I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before: “Art is an investment.”
This is undeniably true. A collector who purchases the work of a relatively unknown artist that becomes famous a year later will see a dramatic increase in the value of that art – sometimes as much as a 200-300 % increase in the original investment. Not too shabby.
Because of this, collectors often look to purchase the work of those artists that they believe will find success and bring them profit in the long run. They look to trusted sources who will point them in the direction of the next up-and-coming artists, as well as ones who are already seeing success and believe that they will continue to see a steady increase as the years pass.
While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this method to buying art, it seems to me like a somewhat cold, unfeeling way of approaching an industry that is built upon creativity, heart, and emotion. To take something with an unquantifiable value and begin analyzing it based on market value as you would any commodity. (Yes, this is just how the business of art is, and is it really bad? No. But as an artist and photographer myself, I cannot help but feel like it doesn’t have to be this way.)
What would happen if everyone just bought art because they love it – not because someone told them it was “good art” or "valuable" ?
I know, a lot of people already do – thank goodness! But imagine if everyone did!
First of all, if we all bought art based on how much we like it personally, those artists that are most accessible would rise naturally to success because they are loved. Collectors might choose differently at galleries; instead of purchasing what is trendy and what they are told they should like, they might purchase from a relatively unknown artist who creates beautiful work. Instead of following the pack, they set themselves apart and begin starting their own trends. People see them as collectors of fresh new artists, always finding gems that no one else can find, and they become interested in those artists as well.
Secondly, when you buy art that you like and that makes you feel good, you want to look at it every day!! You hang it on your wall because it transports you to another place, or lifts you up when you are feeling down, or inspires you to new ideas. It isn’t just something that you hung up to show that you know “who’s who” and make you look good. Instead you feel good when you see it, and that makes it infinitely more valuable.
Even more than that, when those around you see how much they love it, they will be more likely to see the beauty in it as well. True appreciation breeds more appreciation.
If we all support those artists that we love, that we resonate with, and who speak to us and our hearts, we will help them to continue to create more beauty for us and this world.