Why you should buy orginal art

Obviously as a working artist, I'm biased: I think everyone should have original art on their walls.

Now, there's nothing wrong with owning art reproductions. If you want to look at a Van Gogh or Cezanne on a daily basis, commercial reproductions are probably your only choice unless you work in a major art gallery or you're an international art thief.

Personally I long for a reproduction of this Ian Hamilton Finlay work.

 

Ian Hamilton Finlay print
Ian Hamilton Finlay: Evening will come

This print has haunted me for years. I'll probably never be able to afford an original, limited edition, signed print but if I can find a reproduction, I'd be quite happy. I just want it on my wall because it inspires me.

However, as a general rule, I prefer to buy original art and here's why...

 

You get to feel smug

When you buy original art, you own something unique or in the case of a limited edition print, rare.

Not for you that instantly recognisable Ikea print; your walls and shelves contain art that your friends and neighbours don’t have. Let’s face it, we humans are a competitive bunch and there’s a certain kudos to owning something less run of the mill. It may be shallow but it's a major reason why people buy art.

Pleasure

Owning art brings joy into your life. I don’t pay attention to my small art collection every single day but there’s not a week goes by that I don’t suddenly notice one of the pieces I own and get a sudden surge of visual pleasure.

Connection

Although I obviously love the works themselves, I also take pleasure in the sense of connection that it gives me with the artist, especially if I've met them. There's something very special about having a tiny slice of someone else's creative life in your home: it's inspiring.

You're supporting artists

Buying contemporary art directly supports artists. When you buy someone's work, you’ve made a very positive difference to that artist’s life. You’ve put food on their table, shoes on their kid’s feet or paid their gas bill. In short, you’ve allowed them to carry on creating – way to go, you Patron of The Arts, you!

Even if you buy the work of dead artists, you're usually supporting a small businesses - with a few larger exceptions, most commercial galleries and auction houses are fairly small, locally owned businesses.

The passion of collecting

Collecting art can be a huge buzz – many collectors love the seductive aspect of falling in love with a new piece or the thrill of buying at auction. Like any other kind of collector, art collectors can get very passionate about their pursuit of art.

There are people out there for whom buying art is a major lifestyle choice - they visit art fairs, go to galleries when they're on holiday and obsessively plan what they're going to buy. It's their hobby. But I'm not like that and you don't have to be either - most art collections start very simply with a single piece of art bought on impulse.

Original art is worth more

There are some caveats to this. I don't recommend buying art for investment purposes - it's just too chancy. The art market is erratic and even if you've got a good 'eye', there's no way of telling who's going to make it. Even if you do buy a piece of art that's going to rise in value, it may not happen in your lifetime. Still, there's always the chance that you'll get lucky and the artist's prices will rise dramatically: that's not going to happen with your Ikea poster.

There are a few exceptions: things like original film posters or old socialist posters can be a good investment. Old posters are very collectable at the moment and they can be lovely to have on your walls as classic examples of graphic art or Hollywood kitsch. Of course the key words here are 'original' and 'old' - it's the increasing scarcity of the original posters that's pushing up the price. Newer reproductions of these posters aren't going to appreciate in value any time soon. However, they are a good example of something that was originally mass produced which now has a value greater than some of the one-off pieces of art from the same period. It's possible that your Ikea poster may be worth something eventually but rest assured that it's not going to happen in your lifetime because there are just too many of them out there.

 

Don't be scared!

Unfortunately a lot of people are scared of buying original art. They worry that they don't have the experience to choose art. They're scared that they'll be judged by others for what hangs on their walls and they'll have to justify their tastes. They think it will be too expensive or that it’s something that only posh middle-class people do.

The reality is that starting an art collection is not as difficult and expensive as many people think. Even with a very limited budget, you can have an original art collection. Obviously if it’s a choice between food and art, you should buy the food but if you’ve got a small discretionary budget, you can afford something more unique than that Ikea print.

In the next post I'll show you how to get comfortable with buying original art.

Leave a comment

Why do you buy art? Does it matter to you if it's an original or not? Let's hear your thoughts...

 

20 thoughts on “Why you should buy orginal art

  1. I fully agree with what you are saying about buying original art. Although when I think of original art I don't just include stuff that can hang on the wall. I also include what is sometimes known as contemporary crafts (which in my mind is a something inbetween craft, art and design). But I like to support people who make stuff that I think is great.
    I must admit though that as a crafts person myself I often think - what a good idea I can go home and make that myself. But I never think - what a good idea - let me go and buy something similar in Ikea.
    If there is something that I don't feel I can go home and make better myself I will buy it and make it my Christmas present from various people. I recently bought a bone china vase with a knitted texture. I mostly go for crafts such as pottery and glass which are some of the few crafts that I don't personally dabble in. As for hanging on the wall art I try to support my husband by hanging up his paintings and drawings.

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    Hi Grey, thanks for your comment. In later posts in this series, I shall be referring to 3-D work more often. I do think however, that many people *start* collecting art because they want 'something to hang on the wall'. Like you, I tend to think 'well, if I wanted to, I could make that', so I also tend to collect work that is quite different from my own style. I think artists are often like that.

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  2. Kirsty, your idea of a mutual connection between artist and collector is true. I still remember the first piece of art I every purchased and the local artist I purchased it from. Today, as an artist, there is a special connection between me and my collectors(new friends-I call them). To have this artistic link makes a new friend don't you think?

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    Yes, I think so. It's a form of exchange between people. Much of my collection comes from artists that I've met or know - in fact, much of it I got through swaps.

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  3. Kirsty, your idea about the mutual connection that is between artist and collector is so true. I still remember the first painting I ever purchased and the local artist who sold it to me. Today, as an artist, I love knowing that the work connects me to collectors(new friends I call them). Great post!

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    Thanks, Antonia.

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  4. One of the most important aspects to me of owning original art is it's tactility. I feel deeply connected to work that was touched by it's maker whose surface conveys some tangible truth. The glossy surface of a mass produced poster rarely relays the same life to a viewer. Even beloved reproductions sometimes feel as it if it they more about the memory of tactility, a pale echo.

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    An excellent point, Erin - you're right that this is a huge difference between original and reproduced art.

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  5. anonyme

    Kirsty, hi,

    Collecting living artists is a lovely idea. It's a shame that you use the work of a now-dead artist to exemplify your post. The image that you use is also the cover of a book by IHF, generally available for about £15.

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    I used that image to make the point that there was nothing wrong with having reproductions on your wall, if that's the art that moves you.

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  6. Anarchorationalist

    Or better yet, just make some art.

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    Obviously making your own art is excellent thing to do but I buy or swap art by other artists because they make work that is very different to mine.

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  7. I love trading art with other artists, and I buy original art when I can. I figure if I want to sell my work I should support others as well!

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    Much of my collection is trades too Amber, it's a very common way for artists to build their collections but like you, I also buy work when I can. If I had more money, I'd buy more.

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  8. I am a painter and am always delighted when someone wants one of my pieces.an original is a little part of me

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    Me too, Debra. I sold a drawing recently and I just love the idea that someone is going to hang it in their house - what an honour.

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  9. susan schneck

    I am looking to purchase a Federica Ravizzaoil orig.
    I feel very uptight since i have not purchases an original before. How do I know that the gallery is not overcharing me? I do love the painting but need some guidance.

    susan

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