((Essay from: "Art In King Size Beds: A Collector's Journal."))
It's something that can stop budding art collectors in their tracks.
I'm not talking about a wacky television show or new dance craze, but rather the uncertainty and intimidation that haunts collectors while they're considering art purchases. I don't think artists realize how big a role it plays. When I first started buying art, I was so unsure. Is this real art? Am I paying too much? Is this person who appears to be a visual artist really a con artist?
So many questions and so little confidence. I believe that right after lack of money, fear is the major issue that prevents people from buying original art in galleries, art fairs, artist's studios and online. People feel that they must understand something before they buy it. That's why they always ask artists about the meaning of their work. If people don't "get it" they won't buy it. Not necessarily because they don't understand it, but because they don't want to feel like an "idiot." I think this is where art critics and some artists really do themselves a great disservice. People want to relate to something and feel good about buying it. I think a lot of gallery owners don't understand how much courage people have to muster up just to walk inside a gallery. It can be intimidating!
I remember a long time ago, I was attending an art function. I heard a clique of artists talking. They all sounded so elitist. It made me feel uncomfortable. I decided to leave because it was clearly a place where I didn't belong. Looking back, I realize that those artists weren't responsible for my feelings, nor did they ask me to leave. Still, I might have purchased a painting had the event been more inviting!
Today, I still notice such things, but I'm older and more confident about what appeals to me. Yet, I've come to realize that when people ask questions about art, they don't only want to understand, they also want to be understood. Collectors also want to be able to express themselves through their art acquisitions. I do it constantly. Whenever I buy a piece of art, I'm saying, "Yes! This is where I am right now in my life!" Now, I don't even have to understand art to buy it. I find that I love being challenged now. Still, it was a long process, but it could have been shorter and I might own even more than I currently do.
On the flipside, I also understand that artists don't want to be ridiculed when questioned about their work. They put their intellect, emotions and souls into their hands and it all flows and shows in their work. Their art should not be maligned simply because people don't "get it."
Still, we've got to do something about the snobbery that exists in the artworld. It's SO counterproductive. I wonder how many potential buyers are lost forever simply because they were afraid of being ridiculed. Or worse yet, they WERE actually snubbed! Again, we're all ultimately responsible for our own thoughts and feelings, but even if we don't understand the art, we should try to understand the motivations behind it … from both sides of the sale. Dare I say, we should also try to understand one another? Nevermind. I know that's asking too much, but isn't that one of the things that art is supposed to be about?