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Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DO I START AN ART COLLECTION ?
WHY NOT BUY ONLY FAMOUS ARTISTS ?
HOW DO I KNOW IT IS AUTHENTIC ?

WHAT IS A PROVENANCE ?
HOW ARE PRICES DECIDED ?
CAN PRICES BE NEGOTIATED ?
IS ART A GOOD FINANCIAL INVESTMENT ?
ARE THERE ANY ART BARGAINS ?
WHAT IS A PRINT ?
WHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY ?
HOW CAN THE FRASER GALLERY HELP ME TO BUY ART ?
DO YOU HAVE AN ACTUAL PHYSICAL GALLERY?
WHERE DOES THE FRASER GALLERY ACQUIRE ITS ART ?
IS ART A GOOD INVESTMENT ?
HOW CAN I PAY ?

HOW DO I START AN ART COLLECTION?
There are only two rules to start an art collection: (a) Collect what you like (b) Whenever possible, buy the original. Buy and collect only what you like and what interests you and is within your economic means. Although only you know what you really like, a reputable art dealer can advise you as to where, how and how much. If you like the work of a particular artist or a specific kind of prints (like Japanese woodcuts) or drawings (such as figurative drawings), then focus your collection in those areas. However, a lot of excessive attention is often placed on a "focused" collection. A diverse collection may make less sense to some than a focused one, but it only has to make sense to you!.

WHY NOT BUY ONLY FAMOUS ARTISTS ?
Once again, you should buy what you like. If you like Picasso's "Blue Period" paintings, and have the money to afford them when they come on the market, then by all means go for it! And (at least in theory) you'll have a better overall investment potential if you do). But it's not very rewarding buying art by famous artist at the expense of giving up the fun of "discovering" a new artist. Also, history consistently proves that "fame" often wanes and causes prices to come crashing down or soar up. One generation's "in" artist is usually not the next generation's idea of what's hot. Critics and museums often have an agenda that they wish to push, and sometimes inflate an artist beyond that artist's ability to survive the true test of time. Some power-house artists, like Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya and others just go on and on, but others who once were very hot (like many of the 60's and 70's artists) implode and are ignored a handful of years later. Who could have predicted just five years ago that Norman Rockwell would be having a retrospective at the Guggenheim? In 1989 an original oil by Scottish painter Jack Vetriano sold for about 300 British pounds. Today, although he is despised by the art critics and the British arts establishment, he is adored by the public and by some very important collectors, and his works, if you are lucky enough to get on the waiting list for one, ranged in the tens of thousands of pounds. Where will he be in 20 years? No one knows. Finally, beware of the word "famous" which in some cases means "good advertising budget." There are quite a few artists (usually sold through fancy chain gallaries) that have the financial backing to take full page ads in many impressive places. A lot of this art is usually of very little value, and most of the time you usually end up with a very expensive, signed reproduction in an even more expensive frame.

HOW DO I KNOW IT'S AUTHENTIC ?
The easiest way is to become an expert in whatever you collect (art, first editions, Pokemon cards), but in fine arts, generally it is best (and easier) to buy artwork from accredited, reputable dealers. The Fraser Gallery guarantees the authenticity of all the art that we sell. We also issue a written Certificate of Authenticity so that you have written evidence of our guarantee. In the unlikely event that a mistake is ever made, we will refund your money and apologize if it can be proven that the art is not what we claimed it was. All guarantees are based on our present knowledge and scholarly opinion. Because we generally deal with living artists only, we can usually guarantee the Provenances directly from the artist to the gallery. Bottom line: If you buy art, you should get its authenticity guaranteed in writing.

WHAT IS A PROVENANCE?
A provenance is the life history of the piece of artwork, and normally starts with the artist selling it, or giving it as a gift, or passing through a dealer, etc. Most of our pieces have a Provenance that comes directly from the artist to the gallery, since we are often their first entry point. When we re-sell a piece of artwork, the provenance often includes the record of that piece, exhibitions, reviews it has had, etc.

HOW ARE PRICES DECIDED?
Pricing artwork is a difficult science at best. Many factors influence the price of a piece of art, but the key factor is of course demand. The more collectors want work by an artist, the more they are willing to pay. Supply is also a strong factor. Usually emerging artists' prices are a fraction of what established well-known artists can obtain. Auction prices can vary wildly from gallery prices, depending on the bidding. Historically, oils have been more expensive than watercolors and watercolors more than drawings, and so on. However, a Picasso drawing will still beat a major work by an emerging or even an established run-of-the-mill artist anytime. However, other than contemporary published editions of reproductions (usually called "prints" unfortunately) and limited edition photography, there is no "list price" for true prints and certainly none for paintings, drawings, and sculpture. We usually set a price on the basis of what think is fair market value, plus a selling record, accounting for size and media, and then discuss it with the artist.

CAN PRICES BE NEGOTIATED?
Beware of "art galleries" that have sales. You can try to negotiate prices, as some dealers are open to it and some aren't. The Fraser Gallery will try to accommodate your requests and we will always leave the final decision to the artist or the collector selling his work. We will also advice them on what decision to make. If you really want the item in question, but not at the offered price, be honest and say so. Be weary of price reductions of more than 10% as huge discounts hurt the artist's sales record and most reputable dealers will not do them. It is also perfectly reasonable to ask for a small discount if you are buying several pieces of art at once. Bottom line: We will accommodate any reasonable offer, but it will always be up to the artist.

IS ART A GOOD FINANCIAL INVESTMENT?
If you are looking to buy art as a financial investment, then you should try buying stocks instead. Most reputable dealers in fine art are at least aware of the "potential" investment factor of a work of art, but there's no secret formula or "insider knowledge" as to what future prices for a piece of art will be. It all depends on many factors, most of which are quite unpredictable as artists' popularity and demand rise and fall and sometimes rise again. Reputable dealers can and will often give you their informed opinion, but that is all it is: an opinion! There are of course, works of art that are always "on the rise," such as works by the masters or very well-established (often dead) artists, but when buying work by contemporary, living artists, the key rule should still be to buy what you like, and avoid anyone that suggests that you should buy it as an "investment." We do represent artists whose work we think will rise substantially in price in the future, and have a certain "track" record to suggest that. Nonetheless, it is an opinion and an educated guess at best.

ARE THERE ANY ART BARGAINS?
An art bargain happens in one of two ways: (a) The seller and the buyer have widely diverging ideas on the price of the art or (b) You buy a decent, original piece of art from an emerging artist at a substantially lower price that the art could "command" in a better sellers' market. The true bargains are also when an art connoisseurs, who knows his art well (and prices) and who can recognize originals from fakes, etc. "runs" into a work of art being offered by someone less knowleable than him/her, on that particular piece. This would usually happen at auctions, or in galleries where art is re-sold, rather than in galleries where the work of living artists is sold. For example, some English prints sell for lower prices in the US than they do for in Britain.

WHAT IS A PRINT?
Print is the most abused term used in the world of art. A true print is something that the artist has created by hand, such as an etching, or a woodcut or a linicut. The point is that the creation process involves the artist in control of what gets created. Everything else is a reproduction. An Iris print, gyclee print, etc. are just digital reproductions of an artist's original work. There's nothing wrong with reproductions, if that is what you want to buy, as long as you know the true difference between reproductions and prints. If you don't know, then ask! This is a vital question to ask about modern, twentieth-century prints, especially since the introduction of digital technology into the game. Generally speaking, it is better if a print is signed and numbered; although some artists go "beyond" the numbers by having artist proofs, special lettered editions, etc. With rare exceptions, artists only began to keep track of the number of impressions printed from their original plates in the 19th century. Before that, the edition was limited by its popularity and how many could be hammered out of the plate! Goya's plates were still being used in the 20th century to print and to sell his "Caprichos" etchings. Because the plate deteriorates the more it is used. there are usually noticeable differences between the first and last impressions. A smart buyer should always ask: "How many did the artist print?" and "How many of them are still available?", as usually prints that are all sold (called "out of print") tend to go up in price if the demand for them rises.

HOW ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?
Collecting photographs as a fine art genre is a 20th century phenomenom. Photography is perhaps one of the most affordable and rewarding paths for beginner collectors. At the Fraser Gallery, we only sell the work of photographers who take, develop and print their own work. We also require them to use archival methods for processing, washing and presenting the work (via pH-balanced, acid free, conservation archival materials). All of the photographs that we sell are signed by the photographers, and we generally also require that they be from a unique, numbered, limited edition.

HOW CAN THE FRASER GALLERY HELP ME BUY ART?
We can offer you a flawless reputation and unquestionable ethics. Because we only generally deal with contemporary, living artists, we guarantee that what we sell is what we say it is. Because we focus on a very specific genre of the art market (Contemporary Realism and B&W Photography) we are experts in that subgenre and do now "wander" all over the art spectrum, trying desperately to "catch up" with the hottest ethereal trend. Because of the large diversity of our artists, from well-known, national and international artists, to young emerging and promising artists, we can intelligently address any collecting need or request within our niche of expertise.

DO YOU HAVE AN ACTUAL PHYSICAL GALLERY? Yes. We opened our first gallery in 1996 and we are located in the Canal Square of Georgetown, in Washington, DC. Next to us are four other art galleries that make up the Canal Square Galleries or Galleries 1054 Complex in Georgetown. We usually have joint openings the third Friday of each month, from 6-9 PM and the openings are catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant, which shares the Canal Square with the galleries. The gallery is also an accredited member of the Art Dealers Association of Greater Washington. Because of space limitations, our physical space only has that month's current exhibit on the walls, so if you are interested in seeing work by any of the many artists that we represent, please call ahead of time. Through our experience with hundreds of private clients' works, other reputable dealers, and access to dozens of artists' studios, the Fraser Gallery can acquire virtually any type of fine art you're interested in. In addition, we offer free custom searches from our extensive network of art resources. Although we are not (and will never be) a framing shop, we can also offer you advice with regards to framing, absolutely free. In 2002, in spite of a declining economy and sluggish market, and thanks to our success based on high quality artists delivering original and unique artwork, we were able to open a second, larger gallery in Bethesda, Maryland. This second Fraser Gallery hold openings on the second Fridays of each month and keeps some artwork in stock at all times in addition to the artist(s) being featured each month.

WHERE DOES THE FRASER GALLERY ACQUIRE ITS ART?
The Fraser Gallery acquires most of its art from the selected group of artists that it represents as well as artists whose works are available through us, and also from collectors wishing to sell pieces from their collections. We do not "buy" (or sell) art from "distributors" or from publishers or groups. We deal one-on-one with artists and collectors only.

HOW CAN I PAY?
We offer diverse payment flexibility: We accept cash, checks, wire, MasterCard, Visa and American Express. We also offer extended payment plans (interest free) of three to five months depending on the amount of the purchase.


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