Buying Original Art: A Mini Guide

Original art is special, unique, it is literally one of a kind.  Even a print of the original artwork is not the same.  Color is more vibrant in the original art than it is in a print or postcard of the same work. As I sit in my front room looking at my robot paintings that I did in 2020, the colors are vibrant, and the size is overwhelming. A print or a postcard cannot do either justice.  You just have to see it for yourself.

My college kids came home at Christmas and commented on how big these paintings were.  They didn't expect them to be so commanding.

While prints and postcards are great substitutes for not having the original, many artists who are producing today sell their original artwork for prices that are within the reach of middle class America. Buying original art is more affordable than you might think. When you find an artist who is just beginning their career, or is still building a following, you can often find art that is priced in the hundreds not the millions. 

Why would someone spend the money on original artwork, though, if you can go to Pier 1 and get a galley wrapped canvas print framed and ready to hang for under $100?

There are several reasons why people buy original art and why you might want to start buying original art too.

The piece speaks to you. The content of the art or the style of the art is appealing to you. You have an emotional connection to the artwork. 

I recently found an artist that I adore. Oh, if I could paint like she does.  I looked over her offerings and I found a painting in the style I have fallen in love with.  It is only $399.  I am seriously considering buying it.  The painting of hers that I really love is $1899 and it is about the same size as my largest painting. If I chose to, I could buy that one as well.  It would take some sacrifice and a serious budget discussion with my husband, but it is possible. If I don't buy the larger painting, I might buy the smaller 11x14 painting just to have the style that I love on my walls. 

Original artwork shines. The colors are more vibrant.  The size of the artwork is easier to appreciate.  Inside a room of decor, it shouts out, "Look at me. Wonder about me." I am always taken aback when I look at my robot paintings.  They glisten and shine.  I feel sad that most of my audience has only ever seen them virtually.  In person, they are amazing.

Original art is a conversation piece.  Along with the art comes a story of how it was painted, the artist's process, how you found the art, why you love the art. It's more fun to talk about art when you are lost for a conversation, than it is to talk about the weather.

Some people buy original art as an investment. The value of an artist's work can grow with time.  As the artist becomes more well known, the value of each of their art pieces increases. There is only one artist and there is only one original of each painting. There is no guarantee, however, that the painting will increase in value.  If you are going to buy a painting as an investment, make sure that you first love the painting.

The last reason I think people buy original paintings is to study the painting.  In original paintings, you can see the brush marks, see the thumb prints in the paint, make better guesses about the artist's steps to completing the work.  

How should you buy original art? 

Directly from the artist if possible.  Buying original art directly from the artist is a great way to get the best value for your money. It is also the best way to support the artist whose work you adore.  If you can find the artist on-line or in an open studio, you will cut out the middle man of a gallery or fine art fair. These venues make it easy to find art, but the venue takes a cut of the sale. Galleries can take 30% and fine art fairs can cost $1000+ for the artist to rent a booth.

I recently had a piece of my art accepted into an Exhibit show. The show took 30% of the price of any art it sold.  I increased the price of the painting so that if it sold at the show, I would still make the same money that it was listed for on my website.

If you like unique art that has vibrant colors, commands a space, is a conversation starter and just might end up being an investment, then buy original art. Support the artists whose work you adore and help them be able to continue to make great art.

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