Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The joy of owning a unique work of art

I have written another article for Empty Easel which they published! It's about my experience as a newbie collector of art.

Here is the full version of the article I wrote:

A few months ago I stumbled upon a local website that acted as a gallery and it featured many local artists, some really good, some maybe not so good and everything in between.

I was at this stage new to the whole art online thing and was surprised to find that some of the pieces were in a reasonable price range – still quite a bit of money but for a normal salaried person like me just about in my price range.

I then got it into my head that I wanted to be a collector of fine art and I saw this site as a way to become just that.

For me this was a radical concept, as I am also an artist and you would think that I have enough of my own art on the walls to even consider buying someone else’s.

I remember many years ago as an art student visiting our fine art professor’s house - can’t remember why but I think it was for a small party, and I was immediately struck by his wonderful collection of original works by various artists.

To this day that is the only thing I can remember about his house!

The thought occurred to me then that one day when I was rich I would also be a collector of fine art.

The seed had been planted back then, but there was another seed that said to me that art is only for rich people and a frivolous expense (I am a very practical person).

So when I saw this website, suddenly the possibility of becoming a collector became real for the first time.

I spent a long time viewing the works of several artists, and bookmarked my favourites.

Over the next couple of weeks I went almost daily to have another look at the works and artists I had selected.

One artist in particular kept drawing me back, and on an impulse I emailed him to say I admired his work.

He sent me a wonderful reply and a relationship was born, out of being fellow artists and a mutual admiration for his work.

After a couple of weeks I kept going back to look at two of his works in particular, I knew I wanted to buy a painting from him, it was a question of choosing the right one and ensuring I had the money available. Eventually I made my choice, told him I wanted to buy it – he was negotiable on the price too which also helped things along.

I paid him the full amount plus shipping and after a short wait, the painting arrived.

Oh the excitement as I couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh as it were – I had only seen it online. It was even better in reality than online and I was truly happy with it.

I found a good place for it to hang – it’s in my lounge for all to see.

Here’s the thing – this artist and I still maintain an email relationship and he mails me regularly to make comments on my latest blog (he signed himself as a follower) and I sometimes send him a mail when he posts new work.

Notwithstanding the fact that I love his work and want to buy more, this artist is also showing an interest in me and I what I do, so it means that a – I won’t forget about him and b – when I am ready to buy another work of art you can be sure he will be the first one I will go to.

Now I want to share with you how this painting makes me feel. When I look at it, I feel pride – in selecting a great and unique work of art, I know also that while I believe it was a fair price, it was quite a bit of money and this gives it added value.

So to anyone who wants to sell their art too cheaply – don’t – you are depriving your collectors an important dimension of owning your art.

Think Ferrari – they only make a limited number of cars a year, which means that not everyone can own one – this uniqueness alone makes them special.

But think on this – would they be as special if they only cost a couple of thousand each?

Imagine how you would feel if you were a car person (I am not but that’s just me), and you had a car that no-one else had and could never have and the price made you really appreciate what you had?

Well, a work of art is like that except, in the case of an original painting – that one painting is the only one of its kind – ever.

Posters and prints of original art don’t give you this same feeling, you may see the same picture, but you know it’s just a cheap imitation, and you just won’t feel the same about it.

I make a bit of an exception for graphic artists, as long as they make limited editions and personally sign each one by hand – think limited edition Ferrari again.

The other sensation I get is when I get up close and personal with the piece, I can sense the artist’s touch – I can imagine him placing his brush just so and it becomes almost a communication between him and me.

I don’t just see the work – I feel the artist as well. You won’t get this from a poster either.

Now why can’t I just get this from going to a gallery and looking?

Well let’s look at the Ferrari example again – it’s the joy and pride of ownership.

Also, it’s not just about the work anymore, it’s about me. I personally selected this piece, so there is meaning in the choice I made, I ponder on why I chose it, why I like it and how I feel about all that.

So my advice to anyone thinking they would like to buy some real art is this – do it. You won’t regret it. Find an artist whose work you really like and is also in your price range, select your favourites and sit on them awhile.

Eventually one piece may keep drawing you back, and then you will know that is the one.

Personally I like looking at new and unknown artists, if I love their work and I buy them while they are still fairly unknown, the prices are much easier on the pocket.

If I am lucky and made a good choice, then when they become famous the art I bought becomes an investment, even though I never intended to sell.

To all those artists out there who think that they can’t be collectors AND artists, think again. The feeling you get from someone else’s art is different to your own and I can highly recommend it.

If you at least like art and want something of that Ferrari feeling, then buying art is one way to get it without breaking the bank.

And maybe one day when your collection has grown and the artists are world famous, your heirs will be able to buy themselves a Ferrari!

If you want to see the painting I bought, check out my previous post.


  1. But what if his social style didn't appeal to you, especially if you'd gone ahead and bought the painting?

    I am a social moron, and nobody in their right mind would buy from me if they wanted my smoozing, as opposed to a painting they liked.

    I have quit painting because of this.

  2. What a great post Karen. I agree with you 100% that there is nothing like owning an original piece of art created by another artist. It's quite magical. All of your points are right on! As an artist myself I only have one painting of my own in my house, the rest is all by other artists!

    The one point you did not mention is that when you purchase original art you are also supporting your fellow artist's career, allowing them to paint again another day!

    I hope you keep on writing for EE!


    Fiona Purdy

    PS - your work is lovely!

  3. I love your comments Fiona, yes it's true, it is wonderful for us artists to support each other and I think it is fantastic that you are a collector too.
    I think we all should work together instead of seeing it as a competition, with art there is always something for everyone.
    There is art out there that I know is not in me and could never do, but I like it enough to want to have it - in other words I am drawn to stuff that is unlike mine - simply because if it too similar to my own work then I could just do it myself.
    I think your art is great - noticed quite a lot of Arabian horses - aren't they just the most beautiful creature on earth?