Arts & culture

Thinking of investing in art? Read these top tips first

Always fancied a foray into the world of art collecting? Ian Hay, art advisor & director of The Saul Hay Gallery, paints an expert picture of how to start your investment journey

Lead image: ‘The Loves of Lady Purple’ by Iain Andrews at Saul Hay Gallery

Do your research 

Look at as much art as you can. When allowed, head to as many galleries as possible as nothing beats seeing something in the flesh. In the meantime, look online. There’s an infinite amount of places you can get inspiration from with major galleries and commercial collections having fantastic online catalogues. Other online platforms such as Saatchi Art ( contain work of artists from all over the world to browse through. You can even search by specific types of work, colour, size and style. The more you see, the more you appreciate and the more you will form your own taste.

Buy what you love rather than finding something purely for investment purposes

Unless you are a top art expert, you’re not going to be able to second guess what will go up in value and what won’t. The fact remains that if you buy a good quality piece of art from a reputable gallery by an artist with a good output then the chances of it going down in value are very slim. Art is rarely going to be a bad investment but often it can take years, if not generations, for art to go up significantly in value. Think that what you’re investing in is 30 years of enjoyment of the piece and buying something that you could pass down to your family.

‘View from the Mound, Edinburgh, Looking West’ c.1929. William Crozier (1893–1930). Artwork as part of ‘Edinburgh: Our City’, a digital exhibition featuring 22 works from the City’s Collection of Scottish art, housed in the City Art Centre.

Support local artists that resonate

Buy art that means something special to you; perhaps the artist is from the same place as you, or you have a special connection somehow. For a lot of our collectors, there’s a great philanthropic feeling when buying a piece knowing that you’re supporting a talented, local artist whose work you really like where you’re actively helping to keep their career going. It’s the same when you buy from any creative who is still alive or in the early stages of their career. By investing in them, you’re encouraging them to produce more incredible work.

Have confidence in your own taste

No one can tell you what you like though people can make suggestions, of course. I compare art to music; you don’t need to justify your taste in music or art – it’s often very hard to do so in words. Art, like music, is instinctive so trust your taste and follow your intuition.

Contemporary art at The Saul Hay Gallery: Sheryl Roberts, ‘The Colour of Dream’.

Mark a milestone

Buy a piece of art that marks a milestone, whether that’s a key birthday that you can’t celebrate right now, a wedding or a smashed target at work. Seeing it every day will remind you of the celebration and make you smile.

Don’t compromise

If you are buying a piece of art as a couple who have different tastes, please don’t compromise. If one partner loves a piece and the other doesn’t, let them have their piece and they’ll let you have yours. As soon as you start to compromise on art, you’ll buy something that neither likes enough which will only lead to disappointment.

Measure up

When it comes to buying for your home, measure the space that you want to fill. Come equipped with these figures when you’re shopping in galleries so you know if fitting your favourite piece in your home is actually achievable.

Acknowledge styles

Notice the period styles of your home and if this is something you feel you’d like to stick to. Call on the advice of an interior designer to get their opinion on what style or pieces of art would work best if you do have a distinctive period property.

Ian Hay is the director of The Saul Hay Gallery ( where you can find the very best contemporary art from the vibrant art scene of Manchester and the UK