Really it is nobody’s business but your own what you choose to spend your hard-earned money on, however we do get asked what the pitfalls are so here goes.
Most does and don’ts in art buying centre around the idea of art as an investment vehicle. It has proved a highly portable asset as well as a rising one for many years. Media reports of booming art sales and rock star artists increase the public perception that art is a financial safe bet that gives pleasure on your wall, while quietly rising steadily in redeemable value. This can certainly be true but is by no means the norm.
The odds are you will have to live with your artwork for a very long time so make certain you are in love with it. Reselling work by middle ranking (roughly £3,000-50,000) artists is expensive and time consuming. Unless an artist’s career takes off dramatically – I can think of 2 in a thousand over the years – the most one can expect is that their retail price will grow steadily but quietly, often in line with inflation. Don’t be ‘sold’ a picture on the basis of an imminent price increase or any implication that you, the lucky client, has stumbled upon a once in a lifetime investment opportunity. There is more snake oil sold in the contemporary art world than any other industry – caveat emptor!
The art works themselves come in a myriad of forms, not least the print market. A long-held bugbear of mine is the misconception that colour printed reproductions are in some sense ‘original prints’. An original print is just that – a printed artwork that was created for its own sake not a photographic reproduction of another original artwork such as an oil or watercolour. No amount of textured giclee printing, signing, numbering and dating or even certifying is going to take away from the fact that it is a photocopy of something better. There are so many reasonably priced, talented, inspired, technically brilliant painters out there – why would anyone who had made it past adolescence consider buying a signed poster instead?