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Picture Perfect: The Best Online Art Galleries in Singapore

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Online Art Galleries are less intimidating than physical galleries, and you can stare at your favourites for as long as you like! Here are some of the best in Singapore, along with key tips for purchasing art (at any price)!

Affordable art. It’s an oxymoron. Unless I squint a bit and look sideways at the framed artworks by my kids – voila, Naïve Art. While that strategy fools no one but me, I’m left equally uncharmed each time I walk into a gallery and find price tags with 4 figures or more attached to a canvas I mistakenly thought would be more modest. I really want to decorate my walls – it’s one thing you can do in a rental to personalise your space (and especially meaningful if you’re inside all day looking after children) – but I don’t want to compromise Christmas doing it.

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So after coming away from the recent instalment of the Affordable Art Fair empty handed, I got a bit excited when my first Singapore friends, Elena and Blair Thomson, told me they have just launched Addicted Art Gallery in Singapore, an online gallery that curates a growing collection of Contemporary, Urban, Pop and Poster art. Long time art lovers, collectors and aficionados, Blair and Elena have given up their day jobs (Blair is the former COO of Barclays Capital and Barclays Corporate for Asia Operations), and parlayed their passion into a tailored experience based on connecting people to art in a posh-less, non-highbrow kind of way.

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I first met Elena and Blair when we arrived in Singapore in 2008; walking into their shophouse home for the first time was one of the single best jaw dropping experiences I’ve had since living here. Like a personal gallery, their walls were the backdrop to a stunning family of frames. But unlike most galleries, their art selection ran a spectrum of styles and origins and was immediately accessible, just like they are. They’ve carried this ethos through to their brand new business, not just in the works they have for sale, but in the way they want to educate audiences about art through their fun and informative blog posts and remove the fear that a lot of us have when it comes to making a somewhat crucial and costly purchase.

While they carry affordable pieces and believe you can secure great artwork between $300 and $3000 that you can proudly display, they recommend approaching art through criteria other than cost. By bringing the focus back to inspiration, size, mounting, maintenance and longevity, you can find an artwork that suits you and your budget.

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According to Blair and Elena, while an image that sparks a response in you is the greatest reason to purchase a piece, you need to consider if you have the space to accommodate the canvas that has caught your eye. Then you need to weigh up if you have the finances to mount, store and maintain the painting, drawing or sculpture in question. Given that many of us are quite transient and live in a humid climate, these are very important considerations. Finally, by settling on an artist known or otherwise, that will possibly carry some moderate value in the future is a factor should you see the purchase as an investment. By vetting an artwork this way, you should naturally arrive at a piece that is in keeping with you budget.

For those of us that can get intimidated, nervous or just plain p’d off when entering a gallery – and not just because you’re trying to prevent a toddler from leaving their mark on an artwork – online galleries have a unique advantage. In addition to being able to view and consider art at your leisure, Elena and Blair encourage interaction with their audience whether they’re buyers or not. By creating a safe space for people to engage and ask questions, they believe art lovers are created.

Case in point: my experience with another online gallery, ArtPharmacy, which represents emerging Australian artists and was founded by art expert and InStyle and Audi Women of Style nominee, Emilya Colliver. After 11 months of me umming and ahhing, Emilya patiently coached me through a purchase of a painting that I love, supports a young artist and did not go beyond my 3-figure budget. It was a great experience and encouraged me to check out virtual options closer to home, not least to save on shipping costs (or in my case a very obliging sister-in-law that didn’t mind lugging a painting on a plane).

As well as Addicted Art Gallery, there is Art Loft Asia, an online platform that provides direct and preferential access to a curated selection of Asian contemporary artworks, and the Artling, which curates artworks by emerging and established Asian artists from a selection of galleries in the region. Both galleries offer artwork in mediums ranging from photography to mixed media to sculpture and everything in between. You can search for pieces from under $500 to over $50,000.

But before you max the credit card, some parting wisdom from Elena and Blair: don’t dismiss a large canvas because you think it might be too expensive. Equally, don’t go large just to be cheap. It’s all got to start with the heart.

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