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You Spent What??? How To Think About Art Purchases

Friday, March 12, 2010 · 3 Comments

Deciding how to spend your money is always emotional and complicated, but deciding to purchase art is even worse. For starters it’s intimidating as all get-out. You have to grapple with the complex and opaque art market which is like the stock market but has even more speculation and fewer rules.  You also have to determine how much a piece of art is worth to you while including factors like it’s uniqueness in the marketplace, how long you plan to hold onto it and whether it will retains its value.

Everyone approaches these questions a bit differently and for totally valid reasons.

A Few Common Approaches:

SOME save their money for big but infrequent purchases. Instead of spending $50 on a print here, $200 on a small painting there, they save up for fewer higher-ticket pieces that really set the tone of their home.

SOME view purchasing art as an investment akin to the stock market. The idea is to strategically buy work before it increases dramatically in value. These folks become very knowledgeable about the art market and follow “hot” emerging artists who are just on the brink of success.

SOME avoid “investing” in art at all and stick with lower-cost options like prints. These people simply do not see art as an investment and can’t justify spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that may not retain its value.

AND SOME buy art based on their gut feelings about a particular piece, putting aside practical considerations like cost, size and style. If they “fall in love” with a piece of art, they have to have it. (If you fall in this category it helps to have lots to spend!)

A few pieces from my collection. Betsy Walton and Cameron Cundiff.

How Do I Think About Buying Art?

I CONSIDER ART an important element of my home and as such I dedicate a portion of my overall home budget to art.

I BARELY FACTOR IN RETAINED VALUE. For me the value is in owning and enjoying beautiful, inspiring things in the same way that I enjoy the occasional fancy dinner or trip abroad.

I TAKE THE MIDDLE PATH: I prefer to buy several pieces a year instead of one big purchase every year or two. I like variety and buying art is one of my absolute favorite things to do!

I LIKE SUPPORTING ARTISTS. It makes me feel good.

I BUY FROM EMERGING INDEPENDENT ARTISTS who sell their work very reasonably. *

* Next time you’re thinking about buying a piece of art, ask the artist how much the materials cost and how many hours they spent on the piece. Then do the math. Most of the time their hourly rate ends up at or below $10/hour.

Thoughts? Considerations? I’d love to hear your take on buying art.

Tags: Living w/ Art

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bonnie // Mar 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Great post! :))

  • 2 Kate // Mar 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks, Bonnie!

  • 3 m.a.tateishi // Jun 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

    As an artist, I naturally love art and think about owning original art way more than the average person. And I am also in the enviable position of being able to trade my art for the art of my friends. As far as buying art, I would say that I am your last option: I buy reasonably priced art from emerging artists.

    However, I think a lot why people purchase art, since it’s so important to me. I think that many people long to buy art, but perhaps they lack the confidence to do so, especially if the work is expensive. Original art (as opposed to reproductions) does say a lot about you, but most of my clients tell me how much their friends admire the original art in their homes. I think you have to look at all kinds of different art (through galleries, studio tours, friend’s homes) and then see what is calling out to you. When you fall in love with an artwork…go for it!

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