Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reasons to buy Original Art instead of a Print

It's a topic often discussed on the web and elsewhere. Is it better to buy an original fine art painting even though it costs much more or just settle for a print. What about an expensively framed limited edition print? Is it's value equivalent to that of an original work of art?
First you need to ask why you want to buy -- is it just to redecorate or fill a space, or do you also want an investment? If you are just space filling it seems the cheaper option of a print is what you may buy, unless you have money to splash.
But if budget is not so flash, should you invest in fine art? If I was not an artist I would still say yes to this question. However I would be asking several questions first. Is the artist emerging, established, widely respected, or one of a kind? What is their genre? Are they improving? If it is an emerging artist you are interested in, are they able to produce quality work with a style that will stand the test of time? Are they just a passing fad? Is their work truely based on honed technique or are they just chancing their arm? The price you are prepared to pay should be based on all these considerations.

From my limited experience of the market, I see three categories of buyer of art.

Low price range, below 400 euro or so.
Medium price range, 400-900 euro approx.
Upper price range, 1000 euro upwards.

The first group are looking for a fine art painting but are either unable or unwilling to spend a large amount relatively speaking. They look for emerging artists and hope to pick up a painting which really appeals to them, with the hope it increases in value. They will often buy scenes of local areas and popular views.

The middle group will have some knowledge of what artists are established but will not be able to afford the better names. They will look to buy a lesser work of established names or a work by an artist who is becoming more prominent. They will be unlikely to spend on an emerging artist unless it is an exceptional work whose subject has wide appeal.
The last group will be relying on professional advice most likely or will really know their stuff. They may be patrons of the well established professionals and the most popular artists, even if the technique of some of those artists is questionable. If the artist has a following they will feel safe in investing in their art, regardless of their ability. The quality of work of most artists selling at this level will have been well proven however.

If you are still unsure about fine art or print or what to buy if you do want to buy an original -- consider the following...

Go to a gallery and look at the real thing. Look at the colours, the texture and the feel of the painting. Then look again. There really is no comparison to a print. Prints are at best a poor imitation and in my opinion can never capture all the subtle beauty that the artist conveys in the original work. The brushstrokes are lost and the shades and colour variations will never be as vibrant no matter what the quality of the print. Artist grade pigments far exceed the best of giclee ink in their vibrancy and intensity, when viewed up close. There is an energy in an original work of art that is totally lost in the best of prints. You feel this energy every time you look at the original. Living with an original painting enriches the owners life every single day. Also there is a special feeling knowing you have a unique once off original. So for me there really is no competition. If you can afford it, buy originals first. Save up and buy if you must, but don't settle for second best!

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