I often hear people say that they cannot afford to purchase art, but this frequently means that they are frightened of showing that they don’t know anything about it. The learning and discovery is, to me, the most thrilling aspect of collecting art. It is an opportunity to hone your eye and expand your horizons. For many years I enjoyed wine but felt that I could never learn about “good wine.” I felt it was beyond my experience and abilities. At some point in my life I decided to try experimenting. There are some wine shops I feel comfortable going in to and describing what I like and asking for recommendations. I state my budget and my tastes. I have learned a lot- I will even occasionally drink a rose! Art can be like this too. You will find that there is some affordable and good art to be had if you start looking and asking questions.
Some gallery salespeople may try to tell you that art is an investment. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. There are a lot of factors that go into investment grade- or blue chip art. Your primary reason for purchasing art should be for the enjoyment of the piece. It should give you pleasure for years to come. Unlike cars or clothing, it will never rust or go out of style. If you still insist on buying art that could potentially hold its value- look at the artist’s resume. Are they in good collections? Museum Collections? These are indicators that an artist might go the distance, but this should be considered a fortuitous bit of luck- often times realized only by your children or grand children.
Collecting art doesn’t just benefit you; it benefits artists and galleries too. I like to think of a purchase as a direct grant to an artist. Through your purchase you are saying that you think their work is good and worth pursuing. The money keeps that artist in rent and food so that they can continue to create more art. This is the main reason that McGowan Fine Art is committed to showing the work of living, regional artists.
Purchasing art also helps to keep your favorite galleries open, giving you an opportunity to view lots of different work. Commercial galleries do not receive government funding or have boards to raise funds, so they thrive or falter depending on how much support they get from people coming through their doors. So not only are you doing all this good work- you also get a beautiful piece of art to hang on your walls!
My favorite reason to collect art is that I love it and I love how it looks in my home. It is an opportunity to express my tastes and make an individual statement. One of the best compliments someone ever paid me was “your home looks like you.” My home offers me rest and relaxation – and the art is a big part of that feeling. I try to instill that spirit in others when they are purchasing art for their home. They should really love the piece and it should make them happy when they look at it.
Another very personal take on collecting art can be read about at Art Register.