Lindy McNair is founder of
www.modernprints.co.uk – an online-only art gallery specialising in original, signed prints by the big-name modern British and international artists we all know – such as David Hockney, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Alexander Calder. And here she shares the 'tools of her trade' – the apps and websites she uses when researching and buying art online.
With most auction houses moving online or listing their lots on online portals, it's no longer necessary to travel hundreds of miles a week to see a handful of auctions like my dad did. I can browse through thousands of items without leaving my desk. I think LiveAuctioneers.com is the best of the handful of auction portals out there: they have a user-friendly website, large images, good customer service and their app means I can bid live in auctions all over the world wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. Most importantly for me, it shows sold prices in real time making the buying process far more transparent. Be aware that most online portals charge extra for the convenience of using their platform – that’s on top of the existing auction house commission and can be as much as 33% of the winning bid.
Most people know Pinterest already. It is a wonderful, easy-to-use place to get inspiration. Search a specific artist. Or if you aren’t sure about the artists you like, try searching within a genre such as 'pop art', or 'abstract art' or even within a colour theme or favourite subject matter. This will bring back interesting boards and pins. There are also Pins for sale, so you might find it a useful channel to connect with galleries and contemporary artists.
There is more art market data online now than ever before, and this website (they don't have an app yet) is simply a huge database of past auction sales and images allowing the user to track the growth (or fall!) in the value of a work over time. Due to the multiple nature of prints there is even more auction data available than for unique works. For me, it is absolutely invaluable.
I’m pretty sure most art dealers would baulk at the idea of suggesting eBay as a place to buy art. But it’s great for window shopping and getting a 'feel' for what's out there, with a huge range of sellers and items. I’d suggest concentrating on the lower end of the market – it’s possible to pick up great pieces for under £100. Do your research and steer away from the well-known artists unless you really know what you are doing – eBay is far too large to be properly regulated and for some artists there are more fakes items listed than genuine ones! If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.
After spending hours looking at images on the internet it feels like a real treat to visit a gallery or exhibition in person. You really can't beat the experience of seeing works in the flesh and it also helps inform internet buying. The Tate has a great website which I use frequently, but they also have this new app which uses your location to guide you around the galleries (for visitors to Tate Britain, Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool), or you can search by artist to be directed to exactly where the works are displayed.