Galleries are open doors to a simple transaction, or an art collecting journey, but sadly, most art is bought from department stores.
We will be hosting workshops on how to start a collection, but the purpose of this article is to just touch on how a simple art purchase can transition any art buyer into an art collector. So let’s discuss buying art.
Any art purchase generally starts with empty wall space.
Almost everyone will buy art in their lifetime, but consumers often don’t think about buying art from a gallery as opposed to what is mass produced from a department or furniture store. Many times they simply buy the least expensive art available, or the nearest item that says “Live Laugh Love” that will fill a space on their wall. But what if we can get people to think twice about their wall real-estate and see art as an investment? Historically, galleries are places for expensive art and posh experiences with cheese and wine, perhaps that atmosphere doesn’t jive with the average consumer, who enjoys the ease of a conveyor belt and self-checkout.
We suggest buying artwork that is a smart investment. Why go to a department or furniture store to buy artwork that depreciates in value? It’s actually very easy to contact a gallery to suggest artwork that may be a great investment that will also fit the color scheme of a room (if that is the goal), or as a gift.
Of course, look at us, comparing mass-produced to original art, and a department store experience to that of a gallery! That is offensive to the art world! In simple terms more average consumers should experience buying from a gallery, because unavoidably, empty walls get things hung on them, and the conversation is that simple; “Wall space, needs art!” If we can shift the art market, just a little from the perspective of the basic transaction, more artists benefit.
Art Buying vs Collecting
In a more complex evaluation, the difference between art collecting, and art buying, is a large one… but consider this – any purchase of art, by definition is “collecting art,” although just in the simple definition of the word to “collect.” Our goal as a gallery is to turn more art purchasers into art collectors, but first, we have to convince art buyers to buy art worth something, then we can discuss collections.
Buying art from a gallery is really easy.
Art collecting from an artists’ or gallerists perspective is a rabbit hole of art valuation vs aesthetic purchasing, politics, and of course, complex socioeconomics, but it’s never that complicated to start buying valuable art, you don’t even need to know any of that other stuff. After all, an art purchase is just a simple transaction, and that’s what it should be.
Here’s how that looks from a consumer perspective when dealing with a gallery.
View inventory, negotiate, transaction, done.
You own a piece of original art, or something of value!
In our most humble opinion, the inherent issue with purchasing a piece of mass-produced department store artwork is that there is a better, more fun alternative, and it doesn’t have to be explained in a long technical way. Art shows are fun, art buying feels good. Starting a collection is a smart investment. And there are real people who make things, probably close to where you live, and other people (gallerists, if you’re lucky to live in an area that a gallery can survive and stay open) who know what they are talking about in the world of art, know their inventory, and can help you connect to those people who live near you who make stuff, or if you desire, connect you with someone who isn’t near you who makes stuff. What is the point? Use your local services, or in other words, “buy local.”
Note: Even if you are not buying local art, utilizing the services of your local galleries is still buying local.
There are many ways to buy art, connect with a gallery and know the value of your purchase through the complex world of art history, valuation, etc. Or do your own research and buy directly from artists, below are some ways to find artists directly. However, keep in mind that some artists have exclusive gallery contracts and will refer you to a gallery for purchasing and negotiating depending on their agreements.
Indie markets and craft products have become all the rage, but in many places the “buy local” attitude hasn’t caught on for art, and it simply comes down to educating the community about art buying. Buying authentic, local, and valuable art can get really technical, but that doesn’t mean it’s not easy when dealing with a gallery. (Notice the look on any gallerists face during a show or when someone says they want to buy something, it’s like this.)
Connecting directly with an artist
Markets are wonderful ways to buy local work from local artists, but there are many artists who fit outside of the market crowd that may have very valuable work, so this is where a gallery can help make the connection.
There’s also nothing wrong with asking an artist about a commission, or available work they may have on hand, in general this is pretty easy to do through instagram, most visual artists are on the platform. (As stated above, be mindful of exclusive contracts, don’t be offended if an artist cannot sell you their work and refers you to an agent.)
Conferences and Meets
If you’re lucky enough to live in a major city, conferences are great ways to connect to high profile artists selling prints, and limited edition items; DesignerCon and Complexicon are a great example.
Gallerists are Retail Services, Consultants, and They Love Art.
Gallerists are here to help, so use the services they offer.
We’ll look at Tampa for example. Our geographic area has many art galleries with a lot of inventory. Mize Gallery, although located in St. Pete, holds shows nearly every single month, and most of these exhibits feature local art.
Cass Contemporary specializes in high end collectors and high end collections.
Tempus Projects is a not for profit gallery in our area that curates all types exhibits from conceptual to modern abstract, has been around for 10 years, and is operated by a board of heavy hitting arts professionals.
Currently, our gallery, Mergeculure has artwork that is available from local, and international artists, starting from $35 dollars to nearly $1300.00. This is not an outlandish price range for the amount of established artists we represent. We have some very heavy hitting artists in the New Contemporary and Urban Contemporary movements as well, and some very rare items.
All of the work in our collection is artwork that is a great investment, this means the pieces are either limited, signed and numbered prints, or original pieces by established or up-and-coming artists. These are all artists worth investing in right now, and perfect for an art buyer who can start becoming a collector.
Let’s examine a few of the artists we’d suggest investing in now.
Justin is a younger artist and has an established style. We have an entire collection of black and white work by Justin Wagher with pieces that start at $100.00, and cap out at under $2K.
Purchasing artwork from a young artist who has a defined style is important, because art from this artist will definitely appreciate in resale value. As this artist receives more gallery representation from all over the country, the representatives will suggest higher prices as his demand goes up. That will surely happen.
Christopher Clark (Jacksonville)
Christopher Clark has made a name for himself in Duval county, as well as outside of his hometown of Jacksonville. Chris’s work speaks to African American culture with a broad voice. He is an author and advocate for young black artists, and an artist that collectors definitely should be paying attention to now.
Musician and artist Scumrag has carved his way into the local scene by hand drawing show posters for Broken Mold Entertainment and other local promoters, he battled his first Secret Walls art battle in 2018, and stays active with his mainly black and white illustrative style.
Blade is the King of Graffiti. Blade is an innovator of the New York City subway graffiti movement from the late 1970s to the early 80s, he painted over 5000 trains before the clean car movement and is a staple artist in the evolution of New Contemporary Art culture. His first gallery show was down the street from Warhol and his first canvas piece was enabled by subculture documenter Martha Cooper, since she gave the man his first canvas to paint on. Blade has his work in galleries across the world, and we have limited books, canvases and a pair on one of one sneakers painted by the artist. This artist is very high in appreciation and his work is a great investment.
Part One is also from the New York City subway art movement in the late 1970s, and a master style writer of the early 1980s. Part One is a respected wild style writer who was influenced directly by the late PHASE 2 and others in this era. We have prints, canvases and a one of one pair of shoes available by the artist.
Lady Pink is also an icon from the New York City Subway movement, featured in books such as Subway Art, and exhibits including Beyond the Streets, her work is influential to the progression of Urban Contemporary Art.
Birdcap has an incredibly defined style influenced by Greek mythology, and his work is internationally recognized. His work has already appreciated in value during the course of this year, since we held a trio show with Birdcap, Sentrock and Lilipore, Birdcap has completed his first solo show at Chicago Truborn and the value in his work has already gone up. This is in the span of only six months. Birdcap’s work is worth investing in right now, and we have two remaining pieces by the artist.
Sentrock is known for murals all around the country. His iconic bird character speaks to social injustices and relatable subjects. We have two remaining pieces by the artist, both under $500.00. Work from this artist is definitely a great investment, as his work is highly collected by very established collectors.
Changing the conversation about art purchasing starts with galleries and buyers. There is value in purchasing art from women and minority artists. Women sell less than men in the art world, we can attest to this just from exhibits we have held, there is data to prove it. We do our best to encourage purchases from women artists who are shaking up the local and national scenes.
Here are some women to buy artwork from, and invest in that we represent from outside of Tampa: Lillipore
Buy art from Black Artists
Because of the complex socioeconomic issues we all should be working to address in this country (and world), it is a fact that most galleries are not run by black people, and most of the work that most galleries display is by white artists. More black artists need their voices heard, and platforms within art fairs, their own cities, and festivals to show their work and grow as part of the global arts community.
While there are many of amazing minority artist in the Tampa community, we are going to focus on a few who’s work we have shown, these artists are up and coming, have a professional resume, and have a clear and distinct voice in their work.
African American Artists Shaking Up the Florida Scene
While we don’t directly represent some of these other artists, we’ve referred them for projects and worked on peripheral projects with them:
Mark Anthony Little creates abstract contemporary art
BEYO has created digital projects, and live painting.
Some great opportunities for art buying
Artwork for Interior Designers
We have limited work that fits any color palette or color design for an interior design project. If you’re a designer, work with an architecture firm, new home owner, or just want to refresh the art on your walls with work that qualifies as appreciating assets, please call us.
Artwork for New Home Owners
If you just purchased a home, or rented a new space, whether it is an apartment, condo, townhome or otherwise, one of the best ways to make your space your own is to purchase artwork that has meaning and value for your space.
Artwork for Offices
An office without art on the walls will definitely echo, so it is important to place artwork in conference rooms, lobbies, and even hallways within a business setting. Artwork that qualifies as an appreciating asset is a smart choice for any office.
Referral program for interior designers and real estate agents.
We are offering real estate agents a portion of our commission. For every exhibit we have, and every artist we represent we negotiate a commission scale with the artist, we’re passing on our commission to real estate agents and interior designers who spread the word about our available collection or send us a referral. Real Estate agents and Interior Designers can earn up to 40% of the sale price of a piece of artwork if their referral leads to a sale of artwork. It’s just a way to establish more collectors, and keep local and established artists work valuable.
Starting an art collection. Making Smart Purchases
If you don’t see art on your walls as a collection, or consider yourself an art collector, chances are, you already are. If you’ve purchased artwork from a department store, or an online shop that mass produces digital prints that are only worth the paper and ink they are printed on, you’re still collecting art, it just isn’t worth a whole lot after you buy it. The “buy local” mentality is really catching on with craft fairs, indie products, etc, but more people need to think about buying local art and working with their local galleries and artists to make smart art purchases.
We’re here to help, give us a call or send us an email and let us know about your space, we are sure to have something for your walls, and be sure to check out local art shows to become part of the conversation in your city.