Originally Posted by Will
Go to galleries to learn what and who you enjoy. Then seek out the local artists at their homes during art weekends and the like. Call them in between those events and ask to come look at what they might have for sale. You'll avoid gallery markups, build relationships with the artists and often get exceptional prices for buying when others are not.
if the artist is worth a damn they won't circumvent their gallery in order to make a quick sale. that's incredibly tacky. the relationship is considered somewhat collaborative by good artists and galleries and besides that, there are contracts in place. considering how small the art world is, and how much of an artists success is based on personality management, this sort of thing can seriously damage their careers. if they aren't represented (were shown unrepresented, as in a group show or one time arrangement) it's fair game, though you probably won't be able to get whatever you liked in the gallery