Buying & selling contemporary art guide

All art purchased via our website without having been previously viewed 'in the flesh' is covered by our 7 day money back guarantee (This does not apply to Private Sales). For more information please see 'Buying From Rainbird' below. Please Note: We do leave some of the 'sold' pieces on our website as possible inspiration for those wishing to commission original, bespoke art.

Buying Art From Rainbird

We make buying art as risk free as possible and understand, after many years of running a high profile central London gallery, that it can be much more comfortable for buyers to consider art in the environment and lighting where it will actually hang, which is usually the home or office. When you see something on our website that you may be interested in please contact us by email using the 'INFO about this artwork' button so that the art is clearly identified. Even if the piece is marked sold please still contact us as we may be able to approach the current owner - or arrange for something similar to be produced by the artist. You can find this 'INFO' button when clicking through on any image to the end display page. When you use this button your enquiry will automatically have the art and the art ID attached to your message so there is no confusion. If you are in the UK and have a space, domestic or commercial, where you may be considering hanging art please feel free to ask our advice and wherever possible we will stop by and offer help and suggestions. Subject to prior appointment this service can operate seven days a week.

If, after contacting us and we have answered any queries you may have, you did wish to go ahead and purchase, payment can be made by bank transfer or PayPal or credit/debit card via PayPal on our website. We can sometimes hand deliver for London and customers in the Home Counties, the South East and South West (originals only - editions/prints by negotiation) but may use domestic couriers for further afield and international couriers for overseas. Previously non-viewed purchases would be covered by our 7 day return guarantee if you decided not to keep the art. A receipt would be enclosed with the package. Further details on request.

If you should wish to view the art before committing, you can visit us if the art is immediately available, or if you are in London or the Home Counties, where viable we will bring the art to your home or office for viewing. If we do not have the art in our UK storage we can also ship directly to clients from overseas artists subject to prior negotiation. The 'bringing to you' for viewing service varies according to where you are geographically and the actual timing will depend on if we have the works immediately available at our London or Poole storage facilities. If, after viewing, you do wish to buy the art, we can accept cash or a cheque from previous clients. We cannot leave art for consideration (see below) without receiving payment as this would ivalidate our insurance and our obligations to the artists.

If a client wishes to have a painting bought to them for viewing and then wishes to retain it for consideration, we can also usually agree to this for 7 days providing payment is made at the time by cash or cheque. If they then decide they do not want to keep the art within the 7 day period we will arrange for the full payment to be re-paid, less any service, delivery or shipping costs, after the art is returned to us in exactly the same condition as it was left. Art must be returned securely packed and, if not by hand, by a fully insured courier with proof of dispatch and delivery as we will not be able to refund for art that is damaged in transit. If we are required to arrange collection of the art a pre-agreed service charge will be deducted from the returned payment. Please Note: The above does not apply to Private Sales on our website where the buyer negotiates with the seller directly.

Art Licensing
If you wish to discuss commercial reproduction of any of the art featured on this website for uses such as brochures, advertising, editorial, cards or jigsaw puzzles etc. please always ask. We have wide experience in art licensing and will help wherever we can subject to approval of the artist, copyright and ownership restrictions. NOTE: Copyright to all art sold and the images on this website remains with Rainbird Fine Art or the creator and reproduction in any form is strictly forbidden without prior written consent.

Buying Contemporary Art (general advice)

Most people want to add a personal touch to their property, something that reflects their taste and really turns where they live into a individual home. Few things say more about us than the art we select for our walls, it may change our mood, enrich our environment or simply remind us of a special place or occasion. We normally live with the art we buy for many years and our children may even inherit it so choosing works that we will still want to live with in years to come can be a thought and time consuming process.

For most of us who buy original contemporary art choosing it will probably be one of the most personal and subjective choices we make in life. Almost everyone seems to have a different perspective on what they like (the old joke among art dealers is that if a person says "I need to come back with my partner for a second opinion" you can normally forget the sale) and we cannot say how many times people have said to us "I don't like that" or "I could never live with that on my wall" - only for the next person to buy it.

Some people buy 'safe' pictures of landscapes, flowers or still life's - or simply based on if the colour fits in with their current living environment. Others may buy when they are on vacation or because of the subject matter. Some will only buy from artists they know or because they collect a particular artist, while others will go out of their way to source challenging, edgy, even outsider art that makes a real visual impact when you visit their homes. Whether people actually 'like' a piece of art or not can be related to a myriad of subjective reasoning including all of the above plus technique, colour or monochrome, interpretation of the narrative of a picture and even frames can have an influence. A painting that some find interesting could be regarded as sinister by a different pair of eyes. Everyone it seems has a different 'eye' and opinion when it comes to what they like and this becomes even more subjective when they are actual buyers of contemporary art - as against the many who only comment.

Our general advice for those who may be new to buying original art is firstly to view as much as possible and then always and only buy what you personally like. Try not be influenced by hype or persuaded by friend's opinions or those who ''write about art' or 'talk about art' as these people rarely if ever actually buy art. Be very wary of the painting efforts of 'celebrities' (and their friends and siblings) as these are often given totally undeserved press hype and gallery exposure while many really talented artists are ignored. Also try not to be swayed by gallery owners (or the glass of wine) or dealers who may 'talk up' a piece - or artists proclaiming that they have exhibited in 'many group exhibitions' (most have) or the 'Summer Show'. If you are not sure always arrange to have a second look or to think about it. Of course this does mean you run the risk of losing the piece but it is much better to be absolutely sure before you buy - but again, always buy what you really like. Buyers should also be wary of 'investing' in the original art of poster and print artists that are often outrageously hyped by their print publishing houses ('most popular', 'most published', 'Britains favourite artist' etc.) for their own commercial agenda as the market may only really exist for the price of the prints - or 'editions'. There are a few exceptions of course, Jack Vettriano being one example and his success has been organic and not through hype. Also if viewing an artist's CV or biography do not pay too much attention to the education or 'studied with' or was 'taught by' etc. as many of the more interesting artists historically are self taught.

If you are interested in whether a purchase may become an 'investment', the answer has to be 'you never know'. In the fickle art world an 'unknown artist' can suddenly become collectable for the most unlikely or lucky reasons. It can also depend on how serious or astute an artist is in developing their future career, protecting their reputation and retaining the value of their product by continuing to produce high class original work. Some can be far too prolific producing large amounts of 'similars' and/or prints and 'limited editions' etc. for the originals ever to increase in value during their lifetime - if ever. Additionally, in this age of the Internet, some previously collectable artists have undermined the good work a gallery may have done for them in the past by either under-selling directly via their own websites, through laziness in technique in older age or producing too many digital prints and 'editions'. Again, the very best reason for buying original contemporary art should always be that you really like the piece and want to live with it for ever - not for investment purposes. However, if like many of our clients, you do go on to become 'a collector' and build up an eclectic collection of original contemporary art, all it needs is for one of those artist's to become 'collectible' and that one painting could underwrite the cost of your whole collection. Finally, the really wonderful thing about owning unique, original contemporary art is that you will own the only one in the world and make no mistake, people do notice when they enter a home if it has unique, original art on the walls.

Selling Contemporary Art (previously purchased art - general advice)

Although most owners consider their particular piece of art as special, it can be very difficult to find a buyer on the secondary market for contemporary art that has been bought subjectively - and particularly if the artist is still producing works for the primary market. In the first instance we would always recommend owners contact the gallery or dealer (not the artist as they can often have inflated ideas of what their art is worth on the secondary market - if a market exists that is) where they purchased the art to see if they may be interested in purchasing it back. If they are not or say they do not deal in the secondary market, you can assume that the art has not increased in value. As we have said elsewhere, any 'value' is often what buyers are prepared to pay and not what owners think it is worth as this normally relates to the price paid. Owners can also consider auctioning the piece although returns can be very low for 'non collectible' art and we strongly advise sellers to check previous auction prices obtained for 'their' artist (if they have in fact sold at professional public auction before - NOT charity auctions) before considering this. If owners do not wish to take either of those routes they may like to consider including the art on the Rainbird Fine Art website. The art must be original (no prints or 'limited editions') and by known or established artists. This website often features in Internet search engine results by people looking to buy (and sell) particular art and it is regularly visited by our clients and collectors from around the world - some of whom will be on our 'alert' list for when certain artists, subject matter or periods are put up for sale.

Advertising on the Rainbird Website (
Finders Fee 25% commission)
Firstly - you can feature your previously purchased original art on our website from any country in the world - subject to our acceptance. We provide an 'introduction only' service where the owner retains the art at their home. When we receive enquiries (and after validating them) we put the owner and enquirer in touch so that negotiations can be conducted directly between them. The owner would be responsible for arranging viewings, taking payment and delivery. It should be understood that with this 'Finders Fee' service Rainbird Fine Art are not involved in the actual sale and therefore cannot take any responsibility for issues that may subsequently arise regarding payments, shipping, damage in transit, misunderstandings or approval on receipt by the buyer. We would stay in touch with both parties and after the sale the seller would pay us 25% of the final agreed sale price. As this service, including our notifications, will be conducted by email and we may need to contact owners urgently please only use an email address that you check at least once every 24hrs including when on vacation.
NOTE: An extra commission may be payable if the seller wants us to be involved in the sale and act as 'honest brokers' to hold monies until the buyer approves the art. This may involve us being liable to pay the small Droit de Suite tax or ARR (Artist Resale Rights) if the final sale price exceeds Euros 1000. You can find further information about ARR at and

To have work included please contact us with the name of the artist via our Contact Form. If acceptable we will then provide an email address for you to supply a jpg and the following information. Please note we cannot value or appraise art unless it was originally purchased from us (see' Valuing Contemporary Art' below). If owners cannot find a 'value' we would suggest they initially price it at the price paid.

Photographing art hints.
Professional or fully adjustable cameras should ideally be used where possible to photograph art as camera phones, point and shoot cameras etc. may not be able to capture the nuances really required for photographing flat art and attracting buyers. Make sure photo is accurately focused and as square as possible and include the frame (if framed) but also a version without the frame and with any glass removed. Best results can normally obtained by photographing the art outside in normal daylight conditions (not in direct bright sunlight) and with an even light over the art. If you photograph inside be sure you can adjust your camera for tungsten light or whatever light is being used. Jpg's can then, if neccessary, be taken into photo editing software like Photoshop etc. and adjusted using levels, brightness, contrast, colour etc. until a perfect facsimile of the art is obtained. As we will not have seen the original/s we have to assume that you are happy with the images you supply us. Flash or reflections in glass or on the main picture can be very off putting and your success in receiving enquiries may be dependent on the quality of the images you provide. Note that you can feature up to three images - one main image and then two others that may show the frame, signature or a detail or any damage etc. Jpegs must be at least 800 pixels at 72dpi over the smallest height or width - or up to 1MB and we will adjust. Please name the JPG's with the artist's name ie; Artist name 1.jpg, Artist name 2.jpg, etc.

Please include in your email the complete following 1-12 information or this can be supplied as a separate attached Word document if you wish.

If you right click on your mouse, highlight and 'copy' the 1-12 questions below and then 'paste' them into your email or 'Word' document you can simply give your answers inline below each question.

1. Your full name and address, contact telephone numbers and email address.

2. The name of the artist with any interesting details about them you may have (not necessary if they are already included on our website)

3. Is the piece framed? Y/N

4. The overall size of framed art (if framed) in centimetres.

5. Size of painted/printed area (if different to 3) in centimetres (overall size if diptych or triptych)

6. The technique - oil on canvas, oil on wood, acrylic on canvas or paper, watercolour, pastel, silkscreen, etc.

7. The title - did the artist title the piece?

8. Is there any damage to the art including if the frame or stretcher is warped or twisted?

9. Is the art signed? If so front or back?

10. Is the art DEFINITELY an
original piece?

11. The price you wish us to advertise it at (Private Sales must have price - no POA) and please indicate if you are prepared to accept an offer (ONO). (please read 'Valuing contemporary art' below)

12. Please acknowledge you agree to pay us 25% of the final sale price from any successful sale introduced through Rainbird Fine Art in the following form:
I agree to pay Rainbird Fine Art 25% of the final sale price for any introduction made by them.

Charges and commission
We charge a small administration fee as follows for optimising and uploading each piece with the relevant information to our website.
1 piece: £35.00 or the equivalent in Euros or US dollars (see Currency Converter at base of Homepage).
2 - 5 pieces: £27.00 each or the equivalent in Euros or US dollars
6 - 10 pieces: £20.00 each or the equivalent in Euros or US dollars
10 -12 pieces: £15.00 each or the equivalent in Euros or US dollars
Note: Above discounts apply to multiple pieces placed at the same time. More than 12 pieces: By negotiation.

COMMISSION: 25% of the final agreed sale price - VAT is not chargeable. We require payment of the admin fee before images are published. Admin fees are non returnable and we reserve the right to remove images from our website in the event that Rainbird Fine Art is compromised by actions of its advertisers.

: You can make payment via the PayPal button at the base of our Homepage or by bank transfer. With the PayPal button this can be through your PayPal account or with a credit/debit card if you do not have a PayPal account. Your payment and name will be clearly identified on our PayPal account and your art will then normally be featured on the website within 24 hours of payment being received. If you wish to pay by bank transfer please advise. Also please note that we may include the piece on other art selling websites to which we are affiliated.

: Art may stay on our site for for one year and if a buyer is not found the second year is free at Rainbird Fine Art's discretion. We would encourage owners to advertise their art elsewhere as well but ask to be informed if it should sell so we can mark it as sold or remove it from our website. Again please note: As this service is conducted by email, including our notifications, and we may need to contact owners urgently please be sure to only use an email address that you check at least once every 24hrs including when on vacation. Please contact us before submitting images using the Contact Form. F
inally please note that in submitting your art to be advertised on our website you warrant that you have read all of our 'Buying & Selling' guide and understand there is NO GUARANTEE given or implied that Rainbird Fine Art can find a buyer for your art.

Valuing Privately Owned/Previously Purchased Contemporary Art (general advice)

As above we would always firstly suggest contacting the gallery or dealer where you purchased the art to see if they can give a current value. Valuing a piece of contemporary art to sell that has been bought 'subjectively' (I have just the spot for that in my house, colour, subject, size, artist etc. etc.) on the primary market (primary market being the first time a piece has sold and normally through a gallery or dealer) can be very difficult as to achieve any secondary market value, or even the same price as paid, the seller needs to find a buyer who likes the piece as much as they did when they first bought it - or/and for the same reasons. Some owners can be rather optimistic in what they feel their art is worth and only they know what they paid. It may in fact have no secondary market value or take years to find a buyer - but the only way to find out is to advertise it for sale.

If you are selling the work of a living, still exhibiting artist an idea of their current selling price related to the size and year of the art, can normally be obtained by researching current prices on the Internet via dealers (which may or may not include VAT or a sales tax) and other art and art auction websites. However this can only give a general idea of a value as often the art will not sell at the prices asked. Also the artist may have progressed through technique and different 'periods' and possibly worked on different materials. This can be particularly applicable to those artists who started their careers as illustrators. Value can also be effected by how prolific the artist is or was in their output and if they are still making similar works available on the primary market via galleries or their own website. In this respect the works of many artists, whose work was previously exclusively handled by professional galleries, in recent years has been de-valued and not so 'sort after' because of the artist undermining the galleries previosly established commercial value by selling directly from their studio or/and via their own website.

If you are selling the work of a deceased artist, who may or may not be regarded as 'known or collectable' again you can research through the Internet but also there are a number of art auction websites that will give the results of auction sales (normally fee payable) which may be able to give auction results for your artist. However be aware that the auction results, if any, may not be what you are hoping for and again the actual picture, size, when it was painted etc. can make a lot of difference to the value. Auction results are in fact not always a very good place to value individual pieces of art as many of the sales will have gone to dealers who obviously buy as cheaply as possible to sell on. Also auction house commissions and buyers premiums etc. will have been deducted from the published sale price. However the main auction houses will normally give an idea of auction estimates when asked and their websites give guidance on how to approach them.

Rainbird Fine Art cannot value or appraise art (unless it was bought from us originally) as there are so many time consuming variables to be considered and in the past we have been used for price checking simply for owners to sell or advertise elsewhere. As we said earlier, often any 'value' will be what buyers are prepared to pay, not what owners think it is worth. If the art is original and of good quality a buyer will almost certainly exist but could be anywhere in the world and that's why having it featured on the Rainbird Fine Art website can help to find that elusive buyer. Details on how to approach us can be found under 'Selling Contemporary Art' above. Please note we cannot divulge the selling prices of art featured on our website as 'Sold' except in some circumstances to clients of Rainbird Fine Art. Initial contact for any matters only through our Contact form please.




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