Can 'Try Before You Buy' Work for Collecting Art?


The general rules of collecting art have remained relatively consistent for decades, if not centuries. Yet, turbulent times demand disruptive solutions – galleries have been forced to seek out innovative measures to reinvent how art is collected for a post-pandemic future.

London’s TAFETA has delved into an initiative to enter the homes of collectors before a decision on the purchase of a work is made. The gallery, which specialises in 20th Century and Contemporary African Art, this year introduced a scheme entitled Six for Six. Essentially, if a collector is interested in a work, they have the opportunity to live with it in situ for six weeks. Following this stint, they have the option of returning the piece or purchasing it.

Niyi Olagunju, Baga Nimba #5, 2018. 

Now, a few months after Six for Six began, we caught up with TAFETA Founder Ayo Adeyinka to hear about the outcome of the scheme  – and what it means for the future of his business strategy and the collecting landscape.


How has your gallery been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Ayo Adeyinka (AA): Like all businesses dependent on an engaged public, there has been a slow-down in both interaction and sales I think. The art world has done the best it can, this is new to us all!

Where did the idea for the Six for Six project come from?

AA: It’s simply a spin-off from relationships we already had with some of our close collectors. It wasn’t unheard of to let them try out works for a while, with a view to buying.

Can you tell us a little bit about how Six for Six works?

AA: The premise is simple: the gallery will send up to three artworks at a time to a prospective collector, who can live with them for up to six weeks. If they decide to buy, payment can be arranged in a series of installments spread out over six months.

It seems like a good way of combating the fact that people haven’t been able to come to galleries. Do you think that physicality can be recreated in the digital space?

AA: Personally, no. But VR technology is going in the right direction, so we’ll have to see.

There’s no better way to decide on art than living with it.
Ayo Adeyinka Founder, TAFETA

And is it something you would continue to do in future, even when things are back to normal?

AA: Absolutely.

Do you think that the art world needs to rethink the way art is bought and sold? And in that respect, could this be the future of gallery sales?

AA: I do think that we need to continuously rethink existing models, yes, but the Try Before You Buy scheme is not completely new, if we’re being honest. Historically, it’s just been more exclusive. 

I do think that we need to continuously rethink existing models.
Ayo Adeyinka Founder, TAFETA

As well as that physicality, the conversations and discoveries that come around art viewing are a huge part of buying art. Is this something you’ve been trying to recreate?

AA: The Six for Six initiative tries to do exactly that – it’s just that the follow-up conversations are then had remotely.

What have been the risks of the project?

AA: The main risk will be loss or damage, which we mitigate with offsite insurance cover at the collector’s premises.

Do you think this is the most beneficial way for collectors to decide on art?

AA: I don’t think there is a better way to decide on art than living with it. Sadly, it’s not a luxury we can extend to all the works we sell – just works in the Six for Six collection.

What are the potential benefits of a system like this for galleries, and those selling art?

AA: It keeps us all engaged with our collectors. 




Go to TAFETA's website to find out more about Six for Six.


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