Gallery Dreaming

I was a little surprised at the gallery staff for not acknowledging me as I walked in and out of their Galleries in the USA. A far cry from being acknowledged MOST times while doing the same thing in Australian galleries, I think it’s good customer service..

At first I through it was rude, and then I considered they might have always been this way and we just do things different ‘down-under’ then my thoughts turned to economic reality. If they have been doing it tough due to the global financial meltdown then they probably would be focussing on the top level investors, rather than the possibility of a walk in retail sale or in my case a walk in viewer only.

I have heard the galleries there have got ‘serious’ about the way things happen, if you want to purchase a piece from a high end gallery you had better make sure you are ‘worthy’ of having the piece, it’s no longer enough to be able to afford it but you need to show you are going to add value to the mix. Somehow you need to show you are a Visual Arts zealot, willing and able to promote Visual Art, Not going to JUST hang the piece on the wall at home or in an office where the general public never gets to see or appreciate the works.

With so much high level thinking and posturing about the guardianship/ownership of Art works, it’s no wonder the galleries showed little acknowledgement of my presence. In fact I should be pleased they let me in at all, perhaps they will one day develop a scanning device which will only let in those who meet exacting standards of “Artistic merit”.

Art Galleries (esp. commercial spaces) have long fascinated me with their various approaches to showcasing art, how they select and or reject Artists, how they support and nurture them. So to see the USA approach should not have surprised me so much as caused me to realise Art Galleries are still fascinating places to observe and connect with.

Collecting and investing in Visual Art

Collecting Visual Art is generally considered to be a past time for the wealthy but has become far more accessible and therefore a positive option for investors who want to seek out its rewards.

One of the big attractions to Visual Art as an investment medium is the recognition of its long term performance by investors who have taken the time to explore and research the Artists and artworks across broad guidelines. It is an asset class which can have the potential for solid growth and can balance out an investment portfolio of shares, property and venture capital.

Investors have often diversified their portfolios in a range of standard asset classes but with market fluctuations, investing in Visual Art becomes a stable, longer term tangible asset with strong growth potential. With less volatility, this asset class often provides solid peace of mind for the astute investor looking for long term growth and solid income streams.

Visual Art purchased wisely, demonstrates a capacity for this asset class to be a long term store of wealth. The true investment value comes from purchasing quality items knowing they are a finite commodity, an asset which can not be repeated.

Investors can enter the market at various levels, and get great results however it often requires suitable advice, appreciation of the Artist, the works you want to acquire and good guidelines to follow. Then the investor should be able to make prudent purchases and in the process become involved in supporting Visual Art Culture.

Buyers of Art

Lets try and create some starting points about who buys art and why… I’m not saying this is a definitive list by the way, but a way of understanding the buyers basic motivations. There will be much more to this and for the artist wanting to sell their work they may well find the following information useful in connecting with buyers. Feel free to add comments tot he article so I can add more information or details as required if you have another view or three.


Buyer profiles:

I like it – Colours, lines, shapes, tones, subject matter, scale, composition, price,. Any and or all of these (and maybe a few others) become the motivation for buying a piece, this is usually supported by a justification “It will look good where I want to put it.” Mostly it’s about decoration or showing something they believe is beautiful. Long term value as an appreciating artwork, negligible. “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like…”

I like the artist – They probably like the artworks created by the artist, the style etc as well as the person… Perhaps they have not met the artist but have been told about them by a gallery. “You really should look at the work of..” These buyers often connect with the person, then the art, they will then have a story to tell, “We met this artist and wow!) They are not so interested in the longer term value of the work, perhaps wishing it’s value may rise as well as having decoration value. “We met the Artist at the gallery, got to see their studio later on and now we know more about them and their inspiration, we really like the work too!” – “The Artist is a good friend of ours and we love their work as well as them, great to have one of their works in our collection.”

I like the price – An art work is purchased above a certain amount, the gallery is renown for having works which are above a certain value, the buyer knows that, the buyers friends know it too. so to have one from “X Gallery” becomes a status symbol. No mention of the price is made and any interest in the artist is often cursory. This can happen at any level in the art field from decorative works, through to contemporary art and prices though to many thousands of dollars. They say they are informed by the gallery the value of the artists work will rise, but who knows… “The gallery has taught me a lot about this Artist and their work…”

Secondary market buyers – “I like works already with some value to them, the artist is often better known, has a track record of success in some way and their works are valued by others enough to make it to the secondary market.” Auctions of artworks are usually the way these buyers get the works. They could be building an investment portfolio and are linking their budget to the works and the propensity for the art to appreciate in value. “I put into action my knowledge of the Artist and art-world, coupled with information from the catalogue and other sources.”

Institutional – These are Gallerists and Curators buying for larger organistations. They may be looking for works of significance from certain art eras, works and or artists whose value may have had critical acclaim, or their works may hold some deeper cultural or contemporary interest, providing some measure of value, perhaps as an investment and as a culturally valuable piece. “We buy works of broader cultural value first and foremost, the fact many of these may appreciate in financial value is often secondary but a nice bonus.”

Patrons – “We buy works by specific artists sometimes and also because we like the works and or we like the concepts communicated.” Call them rich, eccentric or whatever, these people are great patrons of the arts, often holding large collections revered by the art community at higher levels. It could be a show of status but often in a more demure manner. “We love following the work of Artist X, but we also buy others too, we don’t flaunt the collection to others we just love to support the wider cultural fabric of society.”

Investors – “We want works, which will appreciate in value, yes we buy what we like too so if we get ‘stuck with it’ we can live with it.” Using a broad range of information to make (hopefully) effective buying decisions to collect works which will provide a financial return. Coupling knowledge of works, academic information and investment trends for the works to make informed decisions. The works can be sourced from the primary or secondary markets and sold at auction later on. “It’s an investment first and foremost.”

Copyright © Steve Gray 2010+

Regionalis exhibition starts soon…

The exhibition starts on Aug 19 2010, will you be checking it out too?


Art Investors and Collectors, what do they want?

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Scott Adams

I did some thinking about this topic today, and then followed it with some research via the web and coupled this with my own experience as well as what I was “taught” at Art School.

I think we should take this type of material into account when we decide, the “business of Visual Art” is important to us and we wish to encourage Investors and Collectors to purchase our works. These two groups would have to be the main target markets Artists would aim for.

Investors and Collectors of Contemporary Visual Art, look to the following pointers to assist them in the purchase of art works which will appreciate in value. By looking at what’s out in the marketplace a new comer to the idea of investing in Visual Art might soon become confused by the quantity of artists, the diversity of styles and media, not to mention decorative works, leisure art and reproductions. My hope is the list below will provide a basis to start from.

Basic Points

Deeper Points

To add to this the collector may have in mind the level of work they want.

There are no absolute guidelines as to which points are better or stronger which a collector or investor might use but these are points for discussion or contemplation at least. Perhaps the big thing about all this is how the Artist communicates all this to the prospective buyer.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray Contemporary Visual Artist © 2009+ If you want to see more articles like this as they are published subscribe!