Since diving in to the Art world, I have made a point of looking at what people put on their walls, and have wondered about the buying habits behind these.
There are several thoughts milling around this:
1. We buy a new car much more often than we change the artwork on the walls.
(Some of us buy a new HOUSE more often than we change the artwork.)
2. There is an ever-present underlying belief that somehow that picture on the wall will, one day, be worth a fortune.
3. Big department stores sell ‘artwork’ that is meaningless and mass-produced - so is actually more like wallpaper - colourful decoration (and will certainly have no value at all as soon as it leaves the shop.)
And yet - 4. There are thousands of people producing original art creating a market which offers original work of good quality covering every imaginable subject, and much beyond most of our imaginations.
Can I urge everyone to go out, look at unique original art, find something you like ….. and BUY IT!!
Buy it because you like it, not in the hope that one day it will make you rich, that really is very unlikely.
If there are thousands of talented artists producing fresh interesting work today, there probably will be more in the future. And if nobody throws any art away (like we do with old cars, furniture and most other things), then the volume of artwork available in the world in the future will just grow and grow, so, by the laws of supply and demand, the value of most artwork in the future will fade.
Then there is the matter of taste.
What was ‘hot’ in the past is, mostly, mundane today (with the exception of the very few true ‘old masters’.)
This is not a good story for the galleries and auction houses today - they make their money through high prices being paid for what they sell, and those prices go up if there is a market belief that the particular piece of work is one of the few that will appreciate in value, and of course the staff of those places are well-placed to make such judgements. But then, they are working in a rarified atmosphere, the tip of the enormous iceberg that is the whole art market which most of us will never experience.
There are different buying patterns at different slices of any market, so you really should not expect the 8” painting you pick up at the seaside for £250 to be your winning lottery ticket. I say again - buy it because you like it!
Think about a carpet - if your room is 5 yards x 4 yards, you will probably pay about £1,000 for a new carpet, with underlay and fitting…. and you will happily change it again in a few years’ time - so why expect the £250 painting to last forever and to be worth more in the future than it cost to buy?
The best photographers seek to present unusual views of reality. So while the landscape painter is likely to seek to present an image that may be recognisable as a portrayal of a place, the primary aim of the artist has to be to create something that will be INTERESTING to its viewers.
That interest can be purely from the view being presented - “Ah, Venice, my favourite place in the world….” or “Don’t you love daffodils?”
Or it can be through the artist’s interpretation of the subject - the degree of abstraction away from pure realism, the light and shade, the colours, the scene selected or the action taking place.
Or it can be from the painting techniques used - pointillism, impasto, impressionism, brushwork, layering with palette knife.
OR - it could be, couldn’t it, the manner of the presentation of the work - does it have to be a rectangular piece of canvas.
I have decided, after several years of working on paintings varying all of those factors except the last one, that it is time to experiment with the shapes of my work.
Some people enjoy landscapes
Some people enjoy eating these!
The idea was edgy 50 years ago, today it is only mildly eccentric
Diversity is marvellous. Who would want us all and everything we see, to be the same?
But - it is often difficult to understand WHY - why do some people enjoy eating deep fried Mars Bars? Some people enjoy gazing at very realistic pictures, while others prefer their stimulation to come from concepts.
Personally, I cannot imagine eating a Mars Bar that has been coated in batter then sunk in a deep fat frier. I also find some art that was cutting edge when it first appeared to be little more than mildly eccentric today.
I have to accept that there are trends, though - look at the number of young men who are now proud of their beards, or young couples who insist on dressing their young babies in absurdly expensive clothes because they carry designer logos - both are concepts that I find completely bewildering.
While diversity is great, there must be an instinct amongst us to feel that we belong with the tribe, we seek to conform to norms and standards shared by people we respect, or whose respect we crave. So the decisions about how we choose what to hang on our walls, and hence what art work, if any, we choose to purchase, will be complex.
I have never understood why anyone would buy a book purely because it is (allegedly) written by someone who was once a famous catwalk model, and the same doubt applies to artwork created by ageing rockstars or retired actors. The rationale has to be that those works will give the buyer something to talk about with those friends and might somehow garner a notch more esteem in the tribe.
Take that line of thought forward and it would suggest that my paintings are more likely to become more sought after if there was some story associated with my name that would give future owners of those paintings something to talk about - Cut off my ear? Deep-fry the paintings? Hang them in the Oval Office? Make them so ridiculous they will gain coverage?
Or maybe there are people out there amongst the billions of us sharing this earth who will want to look at a picture because you like it rather than because of something odd about the artist?