Is the economy in recession? Would it be wise to invest in the Stock Market? Property investment is another possibility, often yielding a regular return, but also demanding attention, regular upkeep on the part of the owner. So, what else is available for the person who has perhaps received an unexpected windfall and is looking for a sensible and safe way to put it to work?
What about art as an investment? There will be no regular percentage return from such a cultural investment, but there is always the slight possibility of huge profit. Very few average investors are likely to see such a return, but an increase in the value of their outlay is highly possible. In the very worst scenario, where your artworks fail to reach expectations, at least, your investment costs you nothing to hold, and you can, personally, enjoy it.
What criteria apply for the average would-be investor who is eying the art market? The first, and most important, rule is to buy only what you like, such works as make an immediate, emotional impression on you. Trust your personal judgment, but at the same time look beyond the immediate appeal for good quality: the composition should be strong, with brushwork and color tending towards a pleasing overall effect. It’s a good idea, for the beginner in this investment field, to seek advice and many galleries have an advisory service, or can recommend an independent adviser to assist you in your choice.
Even with the valuable input from an adviser, be sure to educate yourself in the world of art. Devote as much time as you can to visiting the galleries and museums that abound in all cities of the world. Acquaint yourself with the Great Masters, even though you’ll never own such a work, and you will come to appreciate their beauty and their influence on the art of today. Attending auctions can impart a sense of what is happening and moving, in the art world.
Don’t neglect to familiarize yourself with the artists of your region, and with the local galleries. American Visions Art Gallery in Folsom [www.avartgallery.com], for example, is a very active center promoting a great number of contemporary artists in Greenwich Workshop [greenwichworkshop.com]. One such artist is June Carey, whose canvasses and limited editions have been available for the past five or six years, during which time they have grown enormously in renown and value. To own one of these highly appealing scenes of the vineyards of Tuscany, or California, would undoubtedly be an intrinsic pleasure and their growing value is an added bonus.
Fellow artists from Greenwich Workshop include the animal portraitist, John Weiss and the military artist, William “Bill” S.Phillips. The Chinese born, Mian Situ, has produced village scenes of his native land, but also American historical representation and striking landscapes. The choice of available art at the American Visions Art Gallery is startlingly eclectic for the new collector, but guidance and advice are there for the asking. Nevertheless, always bear in mind the number one rule of selecting what makes immediate impact on you and what you would really like to see hanging on your walls.
You could, when you have had some experience with comparing and contrasting in the galleries, look for “emerging” artists, those whose work is not yet greatly recognized, or acknowledged, but whose work you judge to be poised to soar in the art world. You need a degree of self- confidence to invest in such an artist, but there would be the advantage of lower prices and it could be exciting to watch progress. Generally speaking, however, be advised not to go out to look for bargains in art. Spend what you can afford on the best you can afford, and always look for quality in your choice of investment. If a piece of art that interests you has been resold a number of times, do check its history and condition. Artworks are fragile and their value can suffer accordingly.
Prices of artworks are driven by demand, and the new and growing demand for quality work is coming from the swiftly growing economies of Asia and the Middle East. They are beginning to look beyond their own boundaries, for sound investment in art, and today’s investor at home could reap the rewards. Demand in our own backyard, however, is also considerable, and likely to grow as the Stock Market continues to be uncertain and property is no longer seen as the sure hedge against inflation that once it was perceived as being.
An illustration of growing interest can be seen in Britain, where the annual Affordable Art Fair was started five years ago, with 10,000 visitors. This year, the fair is expecting to attract almost 35,000 people and a, correspondingly, vast number of sales will be made. However, there is no necessity to travel to such an event for art excitement, as there is an impressive range of quality artworks in the USA, for example at American Visions Art Gallery, as previously mentioned. Such a gallery can offer an excellent start to an investment portfolio and you need not confine yourself to canvasses alone. Remember that sculpture is a further possibility for the investor/ collector.
Art as an investment can be both enjoyable and profitable to the new collector, who will further benefit from gaining knowledge and expertise in this exciting field. In other words, you can’t lose!