The joys (and perils) of buying on-line…
Before I start, I do wish to say that I think the internet is the wave of the future in terms of buying just about everything. I also think that overall, the internet is an excellent place to buy animation art, but a few precautions never hurt anyone.
1) Most importantly, never has it been easier to comparison shop. Both against other galleries on the internet and local storefronts. You can visit a few galleries, compare images, prices, and selection. You can also get a feel for the gallery by reading about them if they have a page about themselves, and by looking at their presentation of the site. Are they friendly?, are they helpful? are they looking to educate visitors? what is their return policy? do they ship overseas? Also notice how often the site is updated. The best pages update daily. Before the medium of the internet, you had to physically travel to each gallery, or order loads of out-of-date catalogs. What a nightmare! I know, I did it for the first 6 years of my collecting life. But now, buying art couldn’t be easier. Bet you didn’t know you could order a cel on-line and receive it in England within a week!
2) You can shop anytime you like. If it’s 3 am (what a loser!), you can order a cel. If the gallery is across the world and you cannot or do not wish to make a long-distance phone call, you don’t have to! If you’re at work and don’t have time to take lunch, a few minutes are all you need. It’s also good to quickly buy surprise presents while the other person is out of the room!
3) No crowds, no hassle. All you need to do is quickly phone, email, or submit your order into a secure order form. Did I forget to mention no screaming kids and annoyingly long queues?
4) No annoying salesperson. You don’t have to worry about being talked into anything, and you don’t have to be polite and listen to someone prattle on or show you art you are not interested in.
5) There are some great sites to go and learn about animation art. Animation definitions, how to start collecting, background on some animators, etc.
The potential perils
1) There is a certain amount of fraud on the internet, as there would be anywhere.
2) You may cry when you’ve found you’ve overpaid for art in the past, but very happy with regard to your future purchases!
3) Make sure you are clear on the shipping charges beforehand. Oversized items may be very costly. Usually a 12 or 16 field unframed cel or drawing will in the £20 (US$35) range. VAT and customs charges will be your responsibility just as they would be at any store in the UK.
How to protect yourself.
1) Always pay by credit card. If there is ever a dispute, the credit card company can go to bat for you. You also don’t have to fuss about with exchanging money. Do not send the number by email, it’s not secure. Either phone in your order or use a secure order form.
2) Pay extra for the piece to be insured and tracked. You don’t want to deal with the hassle if a piece shows up damaged, or gets lost in the post.
3) Take a good look at the site. Does the site look like a lot of effort has been put into it? Look for signs of quality such as the length of time the page has been up, large number of pieces, colour images, professionally styled pages, secure order form, etc. If a gallery is spending a lot of time and money on their site, they’re probably here to stay.
I am sure that everyone has heard by now of the infamous internet auctions. I would like to share with you my thoughts on internet auctions.
I think that in concept internet auctions is terrific. I also think that a lot of people have bought and sold a lot of wonderful things and the transactions have gone smoothly. I personally have sold quite a few things and met some very nice people. Overall, internet auctions are great. Unfortunately, a small number of people have abused the system and you need to be cautious of them. On my end, I have sold some items on internet auctions and have had some of the high bidders not pay for an item, and/or not return my emails. I become frusterated that I am upholding my end of the bargain, and the bidder has decided that their fun is over, and that they are no longer responsible. Be fair. If you bid for an item, pay for it. It is a big waste of the sellers time to chase people who can’t be bothered to uphold their responsibility. You will also receive negative comments which will discourage people from dealing with you and get you banned from internet auctions.
You must make sure you know what you are doing before you bid. Check the sellers feedback to see if there a lot of negative comments, or very few comments suggesting a new seller. There’s nothing wrong with a new seller, but be extra cautious in dealing with them. If you don’t know what an original production cel is, learn about it first. If you don’t know what a publicity cel is, you better before you’re the high bidder. Learn what art needs to have studio seals, and which does not. There are very few fakes in the animation art industry that I have seen. But I am telling you right now, that if you are buying these so-called “publicity” cels, or new cels without a seal, you are taking a risk. Use the same precautions you would with any dealer. You may also ask the seller questions beforehand if you are unclear about anything. You also need to check the cost of overseas shipping. Once you are the successful bidder, it is best to pay by credit card. If that is not an option, then do send a cheque so you have proof.