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Is a Bad Economy Good for Art?

by Roberta Murray on 1/5/2016 7:49:12 AM

This post is by guest author, Roberta Murray.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 37,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.

I've been asking myself this question for awhile now. With the global price of oil being down the economy has not been in a good state. The media has daily reports of how the downturn in the economy is affecting other industries, especially retail and the sale of so-called luxury items, like real estate and vehicles. Yet, despite all the doom and gloom news about how consumers are being cautious and reigning in their spending, my sales have been better than ever. Paintings have been selling on a fairly regular basis - so good in fact that I'm starting to be concerned about the taxes I'm going to end up paying. 

I am not alone. Other artists have also reported increased sales this past year. Local art auction specialist Levis, in Calgary, Alberta, just finished a record auction seeing 91% of the lots being sold for record high prices, with many paintings selling for more the double the pre-auction estimates. With Calgary being the Canadian centre for the energy sector, their economy has been hit hard by the energy prices and drop in stock share prices. The expectation for this particular auction was not good, so the robust bidding and standing room only audience was a bit of a surprise. Or was it?

When the markets become unstable, investment in more stable assets such as jewels, antiques, collectibles and art increase. These goods are viewed as tangible assets able to maintain long term value. This wouldn't be the first time investment in art increased while markets fell. In 2008/2009 art investment increased by 25%. The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) 2014 Art Market report said 2014 global art sales broke all sales records and surpassed 2007's pre-recession levels with sales valued at over $70 billion US. 

Dr. Clare McAndrew, speaking on the report stated: “The art market reached its highest ever record level of sales with continuing strength in Modern and Post War and Contemporary art.  It continues to be a highly polarised market, with a relatively small number of artists, buyers and sellers accounting for a large share of value.  However, a promising trend counteracting this to some extent is the growth in online sales, which has encouraged a greater volume of sales in lower priced segments”. 

My little sales probably don't even factor into those figures, but the fact my records show increased sales is encouraging. While the rest of the world is full of doom and gloom, my fellow artists may be secretly celebrating their luck.  Besides a more stable investment, the other benefit to investing in art during bad economic times is that when all the news around us is depressing, you have a beautiful piece of art to adorn your house providing a piece of stability and well-being. 




You can view Roberta's original post here.



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Related Posts:

Art Marketing: Surviving a Period of No Sales

How I Painted My Way to the Middle Part II

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David King
You must travel in high circles. Most artists are not selling at the "investment grade art" level. Most of the artists I know are struggling to survive and it's not for lack of quality in their art. For those that haven't been able to network into the circle of the rich elite it's tough out there.

I did say my "little" sales probably don't factor into the equation. I am not in the circle of rich elite by any means. There are more people who invest money than those elite you know. Maybe my increased sales were a fluke, maybe they weren't. Either way, sales could still be better for me and all artists.

In any case, my post was about raising the question of whether or not a bad economy was good for art.

David Kachel
What sort of delusional fantasy land does this author live in?!
Rich people speculate on astronomically overpriced 'Emperor's New Clothes' swindler's "art". This worldwide art casino has no more to do with real-world artists than used car sales in Borneo. Auctions are totally irrelevant.
There is no 'question of whether or not a bad economy is good for art'. That ship sailed 200 years ago.
The first sector to be hurt by a bad economy is art. Artists are the canary in the coal mine for the economy. The last sector to recover in a good economy, is art. Often, like now, that canary just lays there, regardless.
Can't remember ever reading such a ridiculous premise.

David Randall
It would be nice to think the arts could or would profit in a bad economy. In the framing business, a closely related luxury business, the economy has not recovered at all from the 2007 so called recession. The closing of many galleries could be a signal of the same for the art business. There are always exceptions of course.

I just had my worst November and December sales in 11 years in business but that's just me or maybe I'm the canary in the coal mine.

Mark Brockman
First let me say I like your work Roberta.

I kind of agree with the two Davids, but I'll try to be a bit nicer.

Art is generally not a good investment unless you are at the high end market. Even artists who become well known and live off their art, well, after they pass to where ever it is we pass to, are often forgotten, their work, not worth much. Sad but true in most cases. Now this is in regards to us lowley artists at the mid to low end, though some high end artists and their art become unknown and worthless too.

This is not to say an artist might not do well when the economy is bad. I've done quite well this year, but I don't expect it to last. A fluke? Maybe. But I'm happy for you if you are doing well, keep it up.

Walter Paul Bebirian
I would say that you are seeing a steady or even increased number of sales due to your efforts in marketing which often pay off some time after you have put the work into them -

I'm not having your luck. I would say my sales have been flat for a couple of years. Did they improve, yes, some, but haven't gotten back to 2008 and before levels. My mid price work sells the best as well as my ridiculously low priced bin work. I live in a state where we have a fairly good economy. The wealthy collectors buy all the time no matter what. I was sad to see the low end buyers get totally squeezed out. People buy art with disposalible income, so now I am interested to see if this summer art sales pu with the lower gas prices.

Walker Stevens
Hooray Roberta,

I think you nailed it!!! Great article; finally another 'professional' artist who agrees with what I've been preaching in my blogs, newsletters, and comments to FAV articles.

If you design, and direct, your marketing to a SPECIFIC art market, that DOESN'T CARE IF THE ECONOMY IS GOOD OR BAD (because they always have money), you will rarely (if ever) have a slow down in sales.

I had a GREAT year in 2015!!!! And, hope to break seven figures in 2016. I don't give my art away; I have originals that have sold, and will sell for from $4,800 to $58,000 (just sold one); and, I'm enjoying a brisk business.

Why? Because I've practiced sound business acumen, and a sound marketing strategy, learned from Thom Kinkade, and other 'professional' artists, who practice the same things.

You artists out there who refuse to listen to advice from professional artists (those artists who make a LOT OF MONEY from from the sale of their art), need to re-think your marketing strategies.

For those of you who are crying about galleries, don't! I have some of the best galleries in the U.S. trying to get me to hang with them. No dice; I don't need them. I have one gallery that sells for a straight 30 percent commission (Saatchi), but most of my art is sold through my personal client list.

Congratulations Roberta; all the best to you.

Warm Regards,
Walker Stevens


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