Several years ago while vacationing in Italy, I was on a mission to buy an original landscape painting of the Tuscan hills complete with villa and red poppies. That's all I knew. I had no knowledge of reputable, yet affordable, galleries. I didn't know one artist from the other. And, I wouldn't have recognized authentic from mass-produced. I naively stumbled into a small gallery because I fell in love with a painting displayed by the front door, and bought it. Fortunately for me, that gallery is well-known in Tuscany, and the painting I fell in love with is an original from a respected artist. The gallery patiently and kindly walked me through the process of the purchase and getting the piece home via shipping and customs. Many galleries feature contemporary art, others are more traditional. Some offer paintings, others photographs. You can save time, and potentially money, if you know what kind of work you are looking for. Look beyond the galleries. Larger galleries tend to feature more established artists, therefore being more expensive. Look for young, less-known artists selling their pieces from their studios. Exhibitions, art shows, and art schools are also good for discovering new artists and obtaining original pieces less expensively. Do some homework before you go. Artwork purchased at galleries should come with certificates of authenticity signed by the dealer. Obtaining authenticity in open markets is a little more difficult. If it is important to you to have original work, purchase from a reputable dealer who can provide the proper paperwork. Inquire about your shipping options. Galleries will arrange shipping for you which will include customs processing and insurance. If you make a purchase outside of a gallery, inquire about international shipping company options. Whatever you do, do not check a piece of artwork. Airlines accept no responsibility for damaged or lost art. Be patient. It can take 3-4 months from the time of your purchase for your art to arrive at your front door. Should you become concerned about the status of your shipment, contact the gallery or shipping dealer for an update -- but don't be surprised if you only get "it's in route" for a response. Whether small or large, expensive or cheap, authentic or a copy, the only thing that really matters is that you find a creation that catches your eye, stirs an emotion, and will bring you great joy once you are home. Several years ago while vacationing in Italy, I was on a mission to buy an original landscape painting of the Tuscan hills complete with villa and red poppies. That's all I knew. I had no knowledge of reputable, yet affordable, galleries. I didn't know one artist from the other. And, I wouldn't have recognized authentic from mass-produced. I naively stumbled into a small gallery because I fell in love with a painting displayed by the front door, and bought it. Fortunately for me, that gallery is well-known in Tuscany, and the painting I fell in love with is an original from a respected artist. The gallery patiently and kindly walked me through the process of the purchase and getting the piece home via shipping and customs. Many galleries feature contemporary art, others are more traditional. Some offer paintings, others photographs. You can save time, and potentially money, if you know what kind of work you are looking for. Look beyond the galleries. Larger galleries tend to feature more established artists, therefore being more expensive. Look for young, less-known artists selling their pieces from their studios. Exhibitions, art shows, and art schools are also good for discovering new artists and obtaining original pieces less expensively. Do some homework before you go. Artwork purchased at galleries should come with certificates of authenticity signed by the dealer. Obtaining authenticity in open markets is a little more difficult. If it is important to you to have original work, purchase from a reputable dealer who can provide the proper paperwork. Inquire about your shipping options. Galleries will arrange shipping for you which will include customs processing and insurance. If you make a purchase outside of a gallery, inquire about international shipping company options. Whatever you do, do not check a piece of artwork. Airlines accept no responsibility for damaged or lost art. Be patient. It can take 3-4 months from the time of your purchase for your art to arrive at your front door. Should you become concerned about the status of your shipment, contact the gallery or shipping dealer for an update -- but don't be surprised if you only get "it's in route" for a response. Whether small or large, expensive or cheap, authentic or a copy, the only thing that really matters is that you find a creation that catches your eye, stirs an emotion, and will bring you great joy once you are home.