Points on Looking at Art

  • 3 years ago
  • 0
  • Author: Matt

I came into the art world from a non-art position. This differentiates me from those with art degrees and commercial concerns and I’m very honest about this. With this said, I’d like to share tidbits I’ve picked up along the way. This is added-to as I think of new things.

1) This is the equation for good art exhibits:

Art + Walls = Exhibit

It looks simple but everyone who sees an exhibit doesn’t realize what is required to make it all happen. Good art, in the hands of the appropriate people, is not super easy to find. Likewise, walls appropriate to display said art are hard to find because the owner(s) have to spend extra time to work with the art handlers. Many people on both sides of this equation have been frustrated with learning this!

2) Good art tells a secret.

Keith Carter said this to me in an artist workshop in 2008. It’s not all he shared but it’s the first I’m sharing with you. Think about this when you look at someone’s art. I find it’s rare to find and when I do it’s exciting.

3) Consider the cost of framing

If you are accruing original works of art, Michael’s/Hobby Lobby are not suitable framing companies since they use on-archival materials by default. Aaron Brothers (owned by Michaels)  is just a smudge better. In all cases, you need to learn about “archival” materials and processes since you have uv light in your home. In Houston, you need Mixed Emotions Fine Arts or Arden’s Framing. Both these companies know how to preserve your purchase correctly; they frame works for our museums. However, you may encounter ‘sticker shock’ especially if you follow me and are buying affordable artworks.

Framing art is as difficult as your standard home maintenance project; you have to have the right tools and know how to use them. In our home, we have a large collection exhibited because I know how to frame them. I know how to cut mats, select archival materials, have glass cut, apply D-rings, wire correctly, etc. You can too. Just ask.

4) Perceived value vs. actual value

When Nike tries to sell you some sneakers, they start use the “cost of goods sold” model which is a summation of the cost of materials, labor, shipping and marketing. Original artworks, however, are priced within a completely different model. This model is based on ‘perceived value’ not the actual value of the goods being sold. For example, a 12″ x 12″ acrylic painting on canvas may have $30 of paint, canvas and stretcher bars in it. However, if the asking price is $200, then the artist is asking if your perceived value in their work and reputation is worth $170 (or more).

Because I advise you only buy works of art you love without regard of speculation of increases in value, the idea of perceived value is very important. This is where the purchase of art becomes so very personal because you are having to analyze value which requires effort and research.

5) Asking for a discount

If you’re in love with a piece the next consideration is price and, likely, the possibility of a discount. We all love those, right? If you’re in a commercial gallery, you should feel free to ask the staff for their “best price”, etc. You should receive an answer that is 15-25% less. It’s completely up to them, of course; please don’t think I’m guaranteeing you a discount.

In artist studio situations and other events where you’re dealing directly with the artist, things are different. Asking an artist for a discount is something I DO NOT suggest. I think it’s rude and disrespectful. However, as I’ve gotten to know artists, some have offered me a discount on their own and I reply with gratitude.

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