((Essay from, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal."))

It's the age-old question.  Should you buy art because you love it or because it could become a nice little nest egg?

Hmm.  Well, let's face it.  NOBODY wants to LOSE money.  We all buy things hoping that they'll appreciate in value.  Unfortunately, not many things do.  However, if we're touched by the fickle hand of investment, our homes and hopefully our artwork will become more valuable.  Hopefully, a lot more!

But that's not really why I buy art. 

People who buy art basically fall into two categories: Collectors and Investors.  There's no way around it and we all know it.  It basically comes down to motivation.  If Cupid slings you with his arrow while you're looking at a piece of art in a gallery, art fair or online, it's love!  You're a collector, my friend!  On the other hand, if you're looking at a painting and your eyeballs turn into rolling cash register displays, you're probably more of an investor. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that investors don't love art or that collectors aren't aware of the potential value of purchases.  I'm merely saying that when I buy art, I’m mainly in it for the love affair.

Yet, for argument's sake, let's assume that something I bought were to suddenly become worth ... oh, I don't know ... $3 million!  Great!  I would definitely be tempted to sell and I might ... but not without talking it over with the artist, with whom I would share some of the proceeds.  This would allow me to ... BUY MORE ART!  Still, I would be sad that I no longer owned something that I loved.  The best case scenario would be to loan the art to museums if it grew tremendously in value.  I would love to help “my artists” that way.

Again, it comes down to primary motivation.  Love or money?  For me, it's love of art.  If I were an artist, I would feel a bit exploited if someone told me that they were buying my art based on estimated re-sale value.  However, there's also a compliment and vote of confidence involved in the sale.  Who doesn't want that?  If my work increased in value, hopefully that would mean my reputation is on the rise and I could make a great living doing what I love.  Catch-22.

I don't think most people who run galleries are thrilled when potential buyers ask them about future value.  It's tough to predict.  In fact, gallery operators in New York City and Chicago have told me that!  It's really a pain in the neck.  Of course, we all know that high-priced art that sells helps galleries more than anyone else, including the artist.  One artist whose work I collect told me that an artist friend of his had a painting sell for $1 million.  Guess how much of that the artist got?  $35,000!  Of course, I wouldn't turn that down, but $35,000 on a $1 million sale?  That's ridiculous.

Despite whatever strategies galleries may employ to drive up the price of art and boost profits, it's still a tough game for everyone.  Money is the name of the game.  We all need it, so it’s tough to be judgmental.  Even though I love something enough to buy it, I still have to come up with the money.  Wouldn't it be great if LOVE could pay the bills?

We can debate collecting and investing forever, but the fact remains that they don't have to be mutually exclusive.  Let's remember that MOST people don't buy art at all!  That's the real shame.

That’s why I ultimately say that whenever you buy art, regardless of your motivation, you're helping the artist.  You’re also helping the artworld.  Maybe not much in many cases, but you’re doing your bit. 

Doesn't that make sense?  Or is it … Cents?


The Art Of Collecting Art