Tips for Participating in Online Art Auctions in Canada

If you’ve ever wanted to become an art collector, you might wonder where to begin. While new collectors may find the process intimidating, it does not have to be as challenging as imagined. Art auctions are an excellent way for new or experienced art collectors to grow their collections.

This article will cover some pointers for participating in online art auctions in Canada. Some background on how online art auction sites work will help you bid on the right art at the right time to maximize your investment.

How Do Online Art Auctions Work?

Collectors bid on specific items at online auctions. Many of the best online art auction sites have hundreds of bidders hoping to obtain the desired artwork at the lowest possible price.

Some fine art online auctions have various requirements, so you should be sure to read the conditions of sale before registering. Before bidding, you should also be aware of the types of art for sale and the reserve prices.

Research the Artwork Before the Auction Online

Always research artwork before you start bidding to make a more informed estimate of the work’s worth and determine whether you should reserve your bid ahead of time. You can also research to learn what other collectors expect for similar pieces.

If you discover other collectors are expecting high bids on specific pieces, you might wait until those pieces come up for auction again and try to outperform expectations.

Art isn’t the only type of auction you should make assessments for; we’ve prepared this guide covering online car auctions for the next time you register to bid.

Narrow Your Bidding Focus

It can be overwhelming when you first begin bidding. Have a plan and familiarize yourself with all the necessary auction details. Your wallet will benefit if you focus only on the art you are genuinely interested in.

Make a list of three items you want to buy. Investigate their current market value by visiting websites such as Artprice and Artnet (the most comprehensive resource available for art investors). This approach will give you an understanding of how much each piece is worth and where it fits in the market relative to current and upcoming market trends. For example, if a new exhibit includes a painting like yours, you might do better to postpone bidding on similar paintings until further notice.

Decide which item will be your top priority and pursue it—but be mindful of anything else that may come up later in the process. If an item appears to be a good investment but has a lower upside potential than your other top choices (meaning it has less potential for gain), set it aside for later.

Try Different Types of Art Auctions: Online and Onsite

Multiple types of art auctions serve as a platform for many Canadian artists. Physical art auctions are typically the most expensive option; plus, you’ll need to travel to attend. Internet auctions are convenient since bidding takes place online through a website or application.

The similarity between the two is that you’ll only be able to bid on what’s available during the time frame specified by the organizer. They may only be open for limited periods, which could significantly lower your winning bid.

Participate in the Art Auction Live If Possible

Joining a live art auction is one of the first things you should do if you can. It is best to participate when there is a launch event or a promotion period. Naturally, bidding on the right art pieces is more manageable in person. Another advantage of attending a live auction is seeing how other collectors bid and what works of art they are looking for.

After attending a live auction, the next step is to create an online bidding account. You can set up notifications, track your bids, or even prepare absentee bidding. Since most sellers will not send invoices until after online sales finish, having an account will help you track where your money is going.

Compare as Many Art Auction Websites as Possible

When participating in online art auctions, you should compare as many websites as possible. If you’re just starting, it’s best to concentrate on a full-service auction company in your area. 

For art sales, the prominent auction house options in Calgary are Hodgins Art Auctions and Levi’s Fine Art Auctions

However, you might also investigate different types of auction houses because each has its own advantages. Like many jewelry auctions online, you can request a catalogue to determine what artwork interests you and select a few pieces that match your preferences.

Finding Trustworthy Online Art Auctions in Canada

There are dozens of auctions to choose from, but finding a reputable, trustworthy art auction is the first step toward maximizing your investment. The only way to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable dealer is to do some preliminary research.

Begin by researching the art auction’s reputation on Google, Yelp, and other online directories such as Artnet or Auctionata. You can use other aggregated online reviews to assess dependability and reputation based on previous customers’ feedback. Online listings will give you an understanding of the company’s history and best-selling items. Determine whether the company has been in business for a long time and whether they provide guarantees on their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about a specific online art auction house, we recommend going to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the art auction website. You can also ask for references from friends and associates who have purchased from online art auctions.

Buying at Online Art Auctions

While many attend art auctions to sell their own pieces, others use them to buy. Whether you’re searching for affordable artwork or want to add some luxury to your home, buying at art auctions is an excellent option. 

When you start shopping for artwork, we recommend focusing on quality and authenticity. Invest in a piece that will last and won’t look outdated in the years to come. You can choose from a wide selection at online art auctions, so there is always something for everyone’s tastes.

If you’re new to the concept and want to level up your skills, we recommend you take a look at our tips on how to win in an online auction. Art isn’t the only item we offer in our weekly sales; we also specialize in RV auctions online!

Selling Art at an Online Auction

There are numerous methods to sell art through online auctions. You can use popular platforms such as eBay to sell your art, but better returns are more likely on an auction site dedicated to art.

Suppose you choose to list a painting online. You should ensure your artwork listing includes a high-quality image to show well and retain as much value as possible. Solid visuals and descriptions help the auction site recognize it’s a unique piece of art, not just another item for sale.

Familiarize yourself with the consignment process. To increase your chances of selling an art piece, list it for sale around the same time every year. When you decide to list something, prepare it carefully—this will help ensure its success at the auction house.

Bid Quickly, Confidently & Patiently

For new collectors, the auction process can be intimidating. You can, however, maintain your cool by following these simple guidelines.

First and foremost, bid quickly. The auctioneer will not wait indefinitely for you to choose your number. If the bids become too high or the auction closes, they will begin to reduce the goods up for auction. Avoid this if possible—bidding at the last minute may result in spending far more money than you intended.

Second, bid with confidence. If you have no idea what an artwork is worth, it’s best to wait until you see what you want to buy before bidding. When the time comes to place your bid, know how much it’s worth, and you won’t be outbid by someone who has less information but is willing to take a chance.

Finally, be patient and look for good deals! Don’t spend too much on art while you’re still learning how auctions work or trying to build your collection. When independent artists create undervalued pieces that have never been sold in Canada or elsewhere, take advantage of your knowledge and buy them quickly!

Wrapping Up

Buying art is always a fun experience, but it can be confusing. These tips should help you make the right decisions when searching for new art pieces. Check multiple resources to learn about art and art auctions online, discover what is trending in the market to help you bargain, and choose a high-quality Canadian painting just right for you.

You might also enjoy our guide covering everything you should know about online auctions in Alberta. Did we miss any crucial tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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Graham Auctions

The team at Graham Auctions is led by folks with over 25 years of experience in the auction industry. We aim to share our expertise to help those who are new to online auctions as well as ignite thought-provoking discussions with experienced bidders.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Participating in Online Art Auctions in Canada”

    • Hello Jason! Please reach out to us via email at with pictures and descriptions of the items you’d like to sell. We’ll do our best to arrange the acceptance and placement of your consignments in an appropriate auction that will help you get the most for your items.


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