This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 19,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
A Huffington Post article by artist Hilary Harkness spurred me to ask artists if they buy art from other artists. Of the 300+ responses only 27 stated that they have purchased art from a fellow artist in the past -- and of that 27, only a few acknowledged owning a small collection of artwork by other artists. I was not surprised by the response that I received. There is bitter irony here -- artists want more people to buy art... but it appears that not many artists buy art.
I realize that my research approach was not exactly scientific. That said, I also know that many artists complain about the lack of art buyers... and how the public – in general -- views buying original art as an unnecessary expense. It begs the question -- how many of those artists have purchased original art? Can YOU, the artist, criticize other consumers if you are part of the problem? Think about that.
Let us be honest with ourselves concerning consumer attitudes toward buying art. The average consumer is content with the Vincent van Gogh poster in his or her living room – OR the mass-produced Thomas Kinkade print displayed prominently in the hall. The average consumer does not see the value of original art – or how owning original art will enrich his or her life. If YOU want to change the way that consumers think about owning original art... you need to be part of the solution. You need to take original art seriously (not just your own art). YOU need to buy original art from others.
Think of this in terms of consumer psychology. When someone notices another customer buying a product it can sometimes be enough to spur that observer to do the same. I've noticed this effect at art exhibit openings -- someone will buy a painting, for example, and before you know it three others end up selecting artwork for purchase. For some it is an issue of buying status (they want to impress the previous buyer OR simply show that they have taste as well) -- while others are simply drawn to impulse buying. Others may be spurred to buy because observing a transaction was enough to warm their 'cold feet'.
I'm certain that some of you have noticed this art buying trend as well... that first 'icebreaker' can spur further transactions during an exhibit opening. It may introduce someone to a wonderful addiction... the addiction of art collecting. YOU can help to break the ice. YOU can help people get addicted to owning original art. YOU can help change the way that the public – in general – views buying original art. Stop complaining. Set an example.
This is what I want to stress: it is not a convincing argument to suggest that more people should be buying art if YOU, the artist, are not buying art as well. When you buy original art you are funding a fellow artist – you are also investing in a change in attitude about buying original art in general. In a sense, you can help to manipulate consumer culture – shape it into a culture that embraces owning original art.
An artist I spoke with put it this way, "I don't think people should complain about politics if they don't vote. I feel the same way about the art market. Don't complain about people not buying art if you have never bought a work of art yourself." Harsh words... but she does have a point.
In closing, if you desire more people buying original art... perhaps part of the driving force for that change will involve YOU buying art as well -- and informing others about the support you've shown to a fellow artist. The art purchase you make today may influence someone to do the same tomorrow. If anything it will add some 'meat' to your argument if you happen to stress the importance of buying art.
Take care, Stay true,