Sunday, May 15, 2016

Art Collecting Considerations

When it comes to collecting art, I wear many hats.  As a professional artist, my sustainability depends on sales, and fortunately for me, I have a large group of avid fans (more on this later).   As an educator, I teach professional development workshops to an array of students-from aspiring hobbyists to creative entrepreneurs-on how to earn a living as an artist, i.e. how to sell one’s art.  And as a lover of handmade things, I have my own sizable collection of fine arts and crafts (more on this later).

For many, art can feel intimidating and unapproachable.  But these days, everybody has the opportunity to be surrounded by one-of-a-kind treasures no matter their budget or knowledge of art.  Art collecting doesn’t have to be about auctions or galleries.  It’s that “love at first site” moment while checking out a craftsperson at the local farmer’s market, visiting your neighborhood art weekend, or browsing one of the many commerce websites established for handmade items. 
                         visit weekend art events: you support local small businesses and invest in your
                               community while finding one-of-a-kind treasures for your work or living space!

And that is what it is all about: love.  Sure we want our living spaces to broadcast a perfected blend of sophistication, good taste, and trend.  But in the end, no one wants to live in a designer showroom.  Our spaces are our sanctuaries and therefore should be filled with what defines who we are and what we cherish.
                                                       an example of my mixed media paintings. customers collect my work 
                                          for wall display or for grouping on a shelf, table, desk or mantle.  
                                                                        for more, visit a2n2koon.

Because my paintings are my product, I do not display them in my home.  Instead every wall and flat surface hosts a collection of sculptures, photographs, assemblages and paintings.  There’s the mixed media wall piece crafted out of recycled bottle tops and soda cans that I found at a harvest festival in small town, Tennessee.   There’s the carved wood yak my husband purchased on his trek in the Himalayas.  Our collection is eclectic, yet every piece uniformly depicts the story of our life.  From random trinkets picked up during vacations to a selection from the artists we adore, it all inevitably pieces together our moments and memories.  What makes the art even more precious is knowing that we are its sole keepers.  No one else in the universe owns a replica of these unique works.  The original price tags range from $2 to $2000.  And you know what?  With the exception of perhaps two of our art purchases, nothing else in our collection will ever increase in monetary value.  And that suits us just fine.

There is the misconception that art is too expensive.  I have already listed some ways you can get in on collecting art.  You can purchase something original for virtually the same amount of money a mass-produced item would cost.  When teaching, I encourage artists to offer a wide range of price points, as I do.  Recently a larger painting of mine was on display at a local gallery.  The asking price was $2000.  A few days after the gallery’s opening reception I saw a limited edition print of mine ($15) at one of my online shops had sold.  The customer emailed me to say she had fallen in love with my painting at the gallery but because-at least for the moment-it was beyond her price range, she had decided to start collecting my work by purchasing a print.  I thought this customer had a great attitude about art collecting and had readily devised a fantastic solution. 

I mentioned I have avid fans.  I am fortunate to earn a living as an artist based largely on the loyalty of my collectors.  I do not personally know everyone who collects my work, but it has been as much fun for me to watch their collections develop as a body of work as it is for them to collect my work.  And in every case, the collecting is based on a love of my art.  I like to think of it as a form of adoption: The art speaks to my customers in a profoundly personal way, and it is a connection they cannot live without.  That connection is for me the greatest benefit of being an artist.  During a recent workshop, a student asked if I remember sales transactions based on the amount of money a customer paid me.  I honestly answered no, I don’t, but I do recall every moment a customer has an emotional reaction to my work.

Speaking of cost, don’t underestimate how little you have to do to revive a space.  After all, investing in one or two pieces of art is a heck of a lot cheaper than a major overhaul.  I recently interviewed Andrea Canty and Allison Tilly Carswell of Red Door DesignWorks, an interior design company I partner with providing ready-made and commissioned paintings for their clients.  Here’s what they had to say about art and its ability to reboot a room.

Is it possible to change just one thing and still give the entire space a new feel?  
Yes! Finding that perfect piece of art is probably top of the list. It can transform a room's color palette, vibe and scale. 
What recommendations do you have when it comes to buying art?
We like to keep it local. We like to help people understand that great art is available all around, and you don't need to spend a fortune to get it. We appreciate makers like you (as in me, your humble writer, a2n2/Anna Koon), who have great style and quality and make products financially accessible.

So, where do you start? I recommend keeping it in your comfort zone.  If art galleries are for you, go for it! Prefer to stroll through art fairs? There’s one just about every weekend.  Want to wrap your head around art collecting at your computer?  The art world in every respect is right at your fingertips.  And if you are looking for a good jumping-off point, might I recommend invaluable, a treasure trove of information about culture and collecting.  They recently posted a great little article about how to start a fine art collection.

I hope this has been helpful.  And encouraging.  Make it your mission to find art that touches your soul and speaks to your heart.  It is never too early to start collecting!