How to Buy Right-For-You Art

Art is about Feelings.

‘When will you marry’, Gauguin asks as he paints.

An investor paid $300 million for these Tahitian beauties in 2015. He cared alot.

What it takes to buy art? How do I make sure I get something that is meaningful for me?

And pay fair value?

There are 5 steps to this.

What is art in the first place?

It’s the expression of human creativity and dreams (ok, also nightmares, but this is human to). It’s our spirit in action. Art goes way back to our cave-man days. We are creative. Painting, sculpture, performance, installation.

It’s pleasure. It’s style. It’s investment. It’s status.

Which leads to the next question:

Why would I want to buy it? How much should I pay for it?


Step 1: Work out why you would like art.

For example: you may want… art can do all of these:

  • statement of your future and vision – symbol
  • color on the wall or to fill in a space – decoration
  • uplifts you, gets conversations started – inspiration
  • remind you of a holiday or a lovely experience – memory
  • look good, the glamor and status of having ‘art’ – image
  • make money – a financial investment

Step 2: Work out where you can get it

For example: you can get art from…

  • your family (maybe!)
  • shows/exhibitions/events
  • interior design
  • art galleries
  • artists

Go to galleries. Take a friend and explore. Find an opening and join in. Wear comfortable shoes. As a bonus, this is great exercise. You’ll get your 10,000 steps for the day done.

Online art galleries are now global. If you are interested in a piece, look at a large high resolution file. The thumb nail is not the same as the original. Just like a photo of your beloved is not the same as having them there with you. Online is a great way of finding the right piece that is not  in your  location.

Contact an artist you like directly. You can get a piece from their existing art or discuss ‘bespoke art’. This is art created by an artist with a particular person or organisation in mind.

Step 3: Research aka go take a look

At this stage, you are looking for:

Step 3a: what you like

Step 3b: where you can find it. + do you like the source

Step 3c: what it will take financially

This can be and is fun. Explore. Go to new places. Take a friend and have fun discussion what you see. Art is personal. So you’ll like some and hate others. It’s cool. Be social.

Art is sold in three ways. Most people invest in art through one of these:

  1. Artist  you get to see and hear about what’s behind the work, what else they have going on, what it takes to create that piece. You know it is genuine work.
  2. Gallery who represents the artist selling you directly. Convenient if you don’t know artists that you enjoy and value.
  3. Broker who buys art to sell when the price goes up. Some galleries operate this way.

Step 4:  Work out your budget/investment

Art is both an investment (it can be resold) and something you use through enjoyment. Art prices ranges hugely. From a tens of dollars to millions of dollars.

So why does the price range so much?

Many factors go into ‘why it costs what it does’. Here are the main elements:

  • The materials used
  • The time it takes to create
  • If it is unique – the concept
  •  If it is scarce – ie is there only 1 like this or are there 10? Or 500? Or can there be an unlimited number of copies of this?
  • It may be part of a series or standalone – a full set of a series has extra value
  • Is the artist established – works in galleries, shown internationally, in collections or museums?
  • If you are looking at it for you – that it speaks to you.
  • If you are looking at a financial investment: what the demand is? Will other people buy it – ie is there a market for it?

Some people care about technique – back in the day Gauguin painted on burlap in a rough style that was considered unfinished. These days, one of these is worth $300 million.

I bought a sketch from a well known artist for $2000 years ago. It’s worth $5000 more now. Art appreciates.

Step 5: Do it… get your art!

Pick the piece… it may be small, it may be huge. Pick the piece that gets you started. Where you feel. Oh, wow, I’m here with something that has meaning, magic and mystery.  This is what art is.

Have it packed for safe delivery

Step 6: Put it up on your wall, in your foyer etc and ENJOY

Prepare to have folk over and share your art.

Have your story ready… people always have their opinions… and they usually ask ‘What is it about’, ‘why do you like it’? Why did you pick these piece? What was happening in your life? What do you want from life beyond the artwork?

They’ll give you their opinion. They may even ask what you paid.

When I invest in art, I invest both emotionally in the meaning and story I have about it, and financially.  I recognise my own story about it. I share my story about the artwork like this:

  • This piece speaks to me because – may be it is the story of the painting/sculpture.It could be that it’s a brilliant reminder of a holiday.
  • When see it, it does xxx… eg makes me happy, reminds me to be courageous.
  • Then I ask them… what do they see… as we each see something different.

Do this and you’ll be a brilliant conversationalist, host and art appreciator!

Enjoy Art and your Investment,

Booth Aster © 2016

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