Post 4: Investment?


We’ve been talking about several things when looking at an original artwork for purchase. What to look for in terms of quality, technique, and the connections made to the art. But what about buying an artwork as an investment? That gets a little trickier and in fact, maybe a lot trickier. 

Personally, I’ve never bought an artwork for an investment as something to make money on. Generally speaking, the work that is being sold in galleries in New York or at Sotheby’s (an art auction house in NY) is a bit out of my budget. For example, an upcoming auction for Banksy’s screenprint, “Girl with Balloon” is estimated to take in 200,000 to 300,000 pounds ($274,442 - $411,663). Pocket change right? Bansky is well known all over the world. But what about an emerging, unknown artist? Absolutely this is maybe the place to start. While the work may be reasonable in terms of cost, I don’t have the skill set to predict who an upcoming artist would be to “invest” in. If that’s your gig, head to some of the smaller galleries in metro areas and start taking notes. Chances are the artists there are working full time, have a formal education in the arts and are being recognized with awards in juried exhibits. Look for them.

A consideration for buying work from either local or emerging artists is the fact that you help support their career. If you discover an artist that catches your eye, their work continues to draw you in, you’ve found out the back story, and eventually purchase their work  - you’ve invested in the artist themselves. If it's a really well done piece of work, both in technique and composition (meaning how they arranged the parts of an image) you will return to it often and continue to look at it and enjoy it over and over again, much like a good movie or song.

I remember once a family friend bought a work by a well known artist here in Minnesota and it was a signed reproduction of a painting, framed, limited edition. A limited edition of 300,000. The cost was slightly over $300 some 30 years ago and was billed as an “investment.” I don’t begrudge the artist for making a buck, the system served them well, but it did not serve those buying as an investment since now you can find these same works in thrift shops and ebay for much less than that “investment” return they expected to see. My point, most of us will never really use art as a serious monetary investment. On that note, trust your own instincts. Rely on the information you have and if the artist is either trying to support themselves solely on their artwork or as a secondary source, know that your purchase is an investment in them.

Questions?  Post them below.

Dawn’s “go to” movies?  “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Chocolat.”