Artistic expression is a global phenomenon. Name a place, and you will most certainly find artists there.
For art collectors, world travel provides an excellent opportunity to uncover and procure beautiful works of art. Board a plane, get through customs, and next thing you know, you’re walking through an art market on the other side of the world, with hundreds of original works of art ready for purchase.
With that said, collecting art while traveling is not without its potential hassles and hazards. After all, whenever people from different cultures and backgrounds decide to do business, there’s always the chance of mistakes and misunderstandings getting in the way. Keeping such mixups from happening and preparing for additional hurdles along the way is essential.
Let’s take a look at some helpful advice for traveling art collectors:
Know where to go
You’ve booked a trip to Paris and find yourself walking out of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Now what? While the City of Light is also known as an epicenter for fine art, that doesn’t mean you can find it on every street corner. In fact, you’re more likely to get bombarded by peddlers hocking cheap souvenirs, like in every major city. With this in mind, take time to research your destination to determine the best places to shop for fine art.
Know what you want
Are you into paintings, sculptures, or sketches? How about all three and then some? While you don’t need to nail it down completely, having an idea of what you’re looking for will make it easier to find it with limited time and resources. Furthermore, having a current interest in specific artists or types of art allows you to better assess the pieces you find. It may also help in negotiating a lower price.
Know what to do
You’ve bought a beautiful original painting from a bodega in Bogota. Now your job is to safely get it back home in one piece. How you do that will depend on the medium and material, among other factors. Next is deciding whether to display it or store it. Choosing to display will require professional stretching and framing, followed by a secure way to hang it on the wall or display panel. Properly storing fine paintings requires an art storage rack or flat file drawer cabinet. Furthermore, the room where the paintings are kept must be climate controlled and removed from natural light.
Given the value of fine art, it pays to have insurance. Discuss your art collecting hobby with your insurance company to determine if your existing policy covers damage or theft. A traveler’s insurance policy may be required to protect your investments while they’re still overseas.
Learn the law
Most countries have laws in place meant to safeguard their cultural treasures, including artifacts and fine art. Special permits may be required in order to bring these items back to your home country. Attempting to circumvent customs by smuggling art in your luggage or mislabeling shipping forms may result in criminal prosecution, so don’t risk it.
Turn to the experts
Whether it’s determining the authenticity of a work of art or comprehending the complicated customs process, it never fails to get a professional’s input. Art experts and international lawyers can help travelers amass an impressive art collection without breaking the rules or getting scammed.
Trust the seller
When it comes to buying valuable works of art, trust is everything. If you find yourself unable to trust the seller, reconsider the purchase. Chances are your suspicion is rooted in one or more red flags. Stop and go over things in your head. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is, and the burden is on the seller to prove otherwise. Fortunately, the vast majority of fine art merchants operate with the utmost honesty and integrity. After all, word tends to travel fast, and nobody wants to get a reputation for being deceptive and unreliable.
The world is full of beautiful works of art, many of which sit on shelves and in tucked-away galleries waiting to be discovered and appreciated. For those who love to buy fine art, world travel provides an excellent opportunity for doing so. Just make sure to play it safe, think smart, and trust your instincts.