Lifestyle & Parenting

How to Purchase Art Online on a Budget

January 21, 2019

The launch of The Selby in Toronto will see partnerships with several home décor pros—including Emily McInnes of EYE BUY ART, who will outfit the upscale purpose-built rental and inspire budding art collectors by offering residents a gateway to discover and collect fine art from award-winning Canadian artists. We chatted with Emily to get her top tips on purchasing art online on a budget (yes, it is possible)! —Vita Daily


Hi Emily! Please tell us a bit about your (artsy) self!

I’m the founder and CEO of EYE BUY ART, an organization that curates site-specific contemporary art projects with corporate partners, along with an e-commerce platform for award-winning fine art photography. We want to make it easy to collect award-winning, affordable art by rising stars in the industry. Since art has always been part of my life my goal is to make it accessible to everyone.

Why do you think there’s a stigma around buying/collecting art (i.e., it being expensive, unaffordable and inaccessible to most)?

I think the stigma exists because the market has long been controlled by a relatively small number of people in the industry who stood to benefit from high ticket prices and the elitism around art. It was common for people to feel uncomfortable walking into a commercial art gallery, however, right now it’s a very exciting time to be part of the industry. There’s a disruption taking place, similar to what happened in the music and publishing industries. The playing field is levelling off and more people are coming up with innovative ways to access and experience art. This is something we are really experimenting with at The Selby. We’re adapting to shifts in the marketplace and creating an experience that’s almost unheard of in the rental landscape. Residents will no longer need to make a special trip to see art since we are bringing it directly to their door, and all artwork featured throughout the building will be available to purchase with access to exclusive deals. We’re demystifying the process of buying art and want to talk about it in a positive way that makes it inclusive.


What are your thoughts on the idea that there’s "no point" in purchasing art when you are a renter, as your home may not be a permanent one?

Art holds a special place in our hearts. It isn’t like a toaster or a microwave, where we have no emotional attachment to the object. Good art has longevity and connects with our worldview in much the same way that a piece of music can move us, or the way an incredible film can inspire us to see the world in a different light. Art is something we hang on to and carry with us no matter where we go. Through our partnership with The Selby, we aspire to offer residents an opportunity to explore art and creators like never before. We want a tenant’s first art piece to become the cornerstone of their collection and stand the test of time.

How can art enhance (and fit into) a rental home, in your opinion?

Art is what gives soul to the spaces we occupy. It adds colour, texture and harmony to our environment, it adds emotion and intellect. Art can also be very powerful as it represents who we are, what we care about and what we want people to know about us. That’s why each piece of art selected for The Selby was carefully considered. From the lobby, to the common areas, and even the state of the art fitness centre, everything was chosen to give the space a deeper context, as it helps to personalize and transform it into a place that feels like home.


What are your top tips for those of us who are on a budget but who wish to purchase art?

Start with smaller pieces and build your collection slowly over time. Go with your gut and buy work that you feel a connection to. The EYE BUY ART website is a good starting point because we’ve made it easy for people to look at the work, learn about it and take their first steps into collecting art. Another great way to find affordable art is to attend grad shows at local art schools; Ryerson’s School of Image Arts and OCAD both have great end of year programs. This way you’re also supporting the work of these young artists at the start of their career.

Is there a different approach to take when buying art online than in person?

The great thing about buying art online is that it allows us to see a much broader range of work, and to get much deeper into the experience of learning about the artists. Technology has played a huge role in this shift. It’s much easier to research and explore an artist’s career. Again, my advice here is to start small. Get comfortable with the process by looking at work that is smaller in size and that suits your budget. This will give you a chance to warm up to the idea and get a feel for how it works before you move into larger and more expensive pieces.


What great art piece do you have your eye on next?!

I am really interested in work by young, emerging artists. I have always loved photography and tend to focus there, but recently have been looking at work that is a hybrid between painting, photography and other mediums. You can keep your eye on EYE BUY ART as we start to release some of this new work!


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