Starting an art collection doesn't have to be complicated or overly expensive. Read my tips below for easy ways to begin enjoying art in your home.
Find local emerging artists
Google is your friend when looking for local artists. For example, if you are in Nashville and love abstract landscapes, just type in “Nashville abstract landscape artists.” When you are specific to the area and genre, you’ll narrow down your results. Most artists have their own websites that showcase their work. You can also find local art shows to see a variety of artists at one time, if the gallery scene is too intimidating. Find an artist whose work brings you joy. Just go with your gut. It’s all about what speaks to you afterall.
Use social media to your advantage. Search location specific hashtags on Instagram (i.e. #nashvilleart). You’ll find behind- the-scenes views of works in progress and often videos that show up-close details that you might otherwise not see. Don’t forget to follow artists you like! The next piece they post may be the one that you want.
Emerging artists in your community will often have more affordable works than more popular artists that are in high end galleries. Art doesn’t have to break the bank. Set a budget and stick to it; however, don’t ask the artist to lower their prices to meet your budget. They set their prices based on a variety of things and you should always respect their prices. Instead, sign up for the artist's email list. You’ll be the first to know about new art releases or special VIP discounts.
Did you know that many local artists will let you “try before you buy.” Just ask if they mind bringing a piece or two to your house so you can see how it looks in your space first. If it’s not quite right, but you still like their style, you can ask the artist about a commission. Commissions are not as mysterious as you may think and you can even provide color swatches that the artist will incorporate into your painting.
Collect small paintings
Small paintings generally have a smaller price tag. Do you have a spot on a bookshelf that needs a pop of color or more interest? What about a bare wall you can add to over time to create a gallery wall?
Purchase prints from an artist’s website if they offer them. Artists often produce giclee prints, which are high-quality prints using pigment-based inks that are archival. Artists hand sign these prints and sometimes offer them in limited editions, which makes them even more valuable.
If you can’t find or afford a giclee, you can purchase from a source like iCanvas. Believe it or not, you are still supporting an artist when buying from iCanvas because they provide artists with royalties each time a piece is purchased. Tip: If you are buying a canvas print from iCanvas, if the artist is local, ask about hand embellishing canvases to add texture and hand-signing the back.
If you are looking for limited edition prints and don’t know where to start, try going through an online art collective like Alpha’a. They are a women owned business that works directly with artists to provide limited edition prints in specific sizes to the public, as well as to hotels and businesses.
Buy original art safely from artists around the globe
If you had no luck finding local art you love, you don’t have to be limited to your surrounding area, or even your country. Reputable online galleries like Saatchi Art sell art from thousands of artists, at all different price points. You are able to see the total cost with shipping included as you shop. Saatchi gets paid by taking a commission that comes out of the total sale price, while the majority goes to the artist. They do a great job of promoting their artists and featuring work in collections on the site, so it’s a win, win.
Think of an art collection as an investment
Good art never depreciates or goes out of style. Not sure what’s “good”? Art is subjective, but try to look for unique pieces that don’t look like anything you’ve seen before. Most artists develop their own style that is exclusive to them and is hard to copy. Aside from that, just buy what you love!
Have you ever wondered why an artist charges X amount of dollars for an original painting? I’ve heard people say, “Wow, $1,000 is a lot of money for a painting. You must be making a killing!” Hmm… not quite. There are a lot of variables involved and it’s different for each artist. Here’s a general cost breakdown to give you a better idea.
Time – Prepping. Planning. Painting. This takes time. Some artists have a formula they use to calculate their time into an hourly rate. Time is also a factor when it comes to art shows. It takes time to set up and take down a show and most shows require the artist to be in attendance during the show to help sell their work. Drive time is also a factor.
Materials – That professional-grade canvas can cost upwards of $100 each. Professional paints can cost $15+ per 2 oz tube! Not to mention brushes, varnish, framing/wiring costs, and other studio materials that all come into play.
Taxes – This is a big one and multi-faceted. First, there’s the obvious sales tax. Yes, just like any other business, artists must charge tax. Artists don’t pocket this money, but they have to keep up with it. Taxes must be filed monthly or quarterly. I mentioned the word business. Did you know artists are small business owners? That means artists have to keep up with every expense and sale related to their business. At the end of the year, they are subject to self employment taxes. When all is said and done, an artist must pay approximately 40% in taxes on EACH sale!
Space – Some artists pay a monthly fee for a studio space. If the studio space includes a retail avenue, the price goes up.
Gallery, Retail, Art Show, or Online Gallery Representation – If you purchase art through any of these venues, that venue usually takes a 30 - 50% commission off the top. Some also charge an additional booth fee. Sales tax is often not collected in addition to an art show price, so the artist must factor taxes into the price. Some shows require artists to supply their own tent, tables, lighting and other equipment. Artists also have to consider the cost of gas and hotel accommodations if they have to travel to and from a venue. In order for an artist to make a profit selling art in these venues, they have to raise their prices.
Shipping – If shipping is involved, sometimes artists absorb a portion of these costs. Boxes and packing supplies cost money and often the collector is only charged a portion of the actual shipping costs.
Notoriety – Picasso didn’t sell his first painting for millions. He had to make a name for himself and develop a unique style. Oftentimes artists spend years schlepping their art from show to show, from city to city. They sometimes do work for exposure only. Then when they become popular or ‘famous,’ it boils down to supply and demand.
Marketing – If an artist paints it, then everyone will see it and the buyers will just know where and how to find them, right? Not exactly. Most artists don’t start out having the funds to have someone market them to the world in order to find their target audience. It’s up to the artist to set up and maintain social media accounts and generally an artist needs a website. Unless the artist is also a web designer, a professionally designed site costs upwards of $500 to create. Then you have to pay a yearly fee to keep it active and that’s around $350. Professional headshots and studio shots help, but are an added expense. Business cards and advertising costs add up quickly. Credit card fees are also an additional expense.
It’s a Unique Investment – Each original piece that an artist creates is a one-of-a-kind. A similar piece may be made, but it won’t be exactly the same. An original is always worth more than a print. If you invest in an emerging artist, the piece may quickly double its value in a short amount of time. Think of it this way… anybody can go out and buy the same fancy car as you, but no two people can have the same original painting!
Talent – Okay, that’s a given. You can’t teach talent. It’s God-given. Some people have more than others, but it’s what you do with what you have that matters. If an artist is able to harness his or her talent in a way that speaks to a collector making them feel like they have to own that particular piece, then that’s something you can’t put a price on.
Here’s the bottom line… if you are buying from a professional artist, you are supporting a small business! Artists have bills to pay and families to support just like everyone else. It takes hard work, dedication and a lot of rejection. Artists are frequently told no or they lose a sale or an opportunity. An artist must have a thick skin in order to survive in the art business.
It comes down to passion. Artists LOVE what they do. When someone spends their hard earned money on something an artist created from scratch with their God-given talent and hard work, it makes their heart sing. It makes it ALL worth it. An artist is so happy when their art speaks to you and it makes them keep going no matter how daunting it may be!
If you know an artist, but aren’t in a position to buy their art, you can still help them. Like and comment on their social media art posts, spread the word and recommend them to your friends. Come to their shows or events just to show your support. Encouragement goes a long way.
So now that you know how pricing works and you want to support an artist today, head on over to my shop ;)
© 2019 Vanessa Sharp Multon. Image credit: Thom Masat