10 Reasons to Buy Art During a Recession

It is a most certain fact and I am not going to sugarcoat it.  Many people I meet who want to buy original art for their homes or commission a portrait will inevitably back down because they are hesitant about the price tag.  With many American families fearing the consequences of sequestration these days, this uncertainty has only heightened.  Artwork may seem like a luxury, something only the very wealthy can ever hope to own.  However, as a working artist, I have a few thoughts I would like to share on the matter.

1)  Art is good for morale.  Perhaps life is feeling a bit drab and dull.  You need that extra spark of inspiration to brighten your day or remind you of your beliefs, interests, or at the very least how beautiful the world can be.  To commemorate a special event, perhaps, or to bring good cheer to a special person.  Art has always had the power to uplift and enlighten, and that is not a mere luxury.  It is something worth spending money for.

2)  Buying original art helps your local economy.  Many artists are independent small business owners (for instance, Christina Wegman Fine Art is a sole proprietorship).  Buying directly from them puts money back into your community to keep it booming.

3)  This is a purchase that will give you joy for a lifetime.  An original work of art, and perhaps especially a commission, is something very personal, a family treasure.  Much like your professional wedding photos, a prized memento, or that cherry dresser that you inherited from your grandparents, it will stay with you and brighten your home for years to come.

4)  Art makes an excellent gift.  A painting can be quite a touching surprise, an incredibly meaningful expression of love and appreciation.  Just take a look at the story behind my portrait of Eugene and Georgia Baxley, and you will see what I mean!

5)  A commission may not be ready for months, or even a year, giving you plenty of time to finance the project wisely.  It takes me about a week to a month to complete a painting; my 30X40 Von Braun portrait took three months.  I have known artists who only do one piece per year, and others who complete a painting a day.  Regardless, if you commission a piece, it may not be ready for a month or more, so there is typically no obligation to pay right now, this instant.

6)  Many artists are willing to take payment in installments.  Those that are not used to taking installments may even make an exception for you if it is really necessary.  Some artists want half down at the start of a commission, but not always.  Never feel hesitant to discuss your options with the artist. 

7)  Many artists actually price their work quite reasonably.  I like to make it possible for people to buy my work.  I am most certainly not the only artist who feels that way.  While I must price my art so that I can make a living, and while those prices may rise occasionally, they still remain as accessible as a new suit or overcoat, with a 16X20 starting at $175.

8)  You are investing in the beauty of your home or office.  Just as you might buy vitamins, a certain brand of make-up or a flattering outfit to invest in yourself and look and feel your best, a work of original art is an investment in your home or office.  A declaration that you not only want the best, but that you want the real thing.  In a business setting, this can wind up being the difference between whether clients come back or not.  Nobody enjoys walking into a cold office with bare walls or mass-produced prints.  You will have a happier work space, and so will your colleagues and clients.

9)  This technically makes you a job creator.  And if an artist is able to continue and grow in his/her path, that painting you bought might wind up quite valuable!  Art is not my hobby.  I enjoy it thoroughly, but my vocation is my business, not my leisure activity, and should you contact me, I will act in a friendly, professional manner.  By purchasing my work, you are helping me to continue it.  You are saying that "artist" is a necessary and rightful career in society.  You are investing in me and saying that my work is useful now and could appreciate in value later.

10)  Fear should not hold you back from something you love.  I believe that if we spend the next few years trembling in fear about the economy, many opportunities to create beauty and success will be avoided.  Art can bring hope in a recession, can teach America a lot about respect, thrift, and creativity.  That can create new jobs for everyone, and more important, that mythic "quality of life" that Americans supposedly care so much about.  Why be so afraid?  Yes, live within your means; no, do not feel forced to take my advice on the matter, but one way or another, if you want something, you can find a way to have it.  If what you happen to want is art, you need not think that it is inaccessible.  Enjoy this life and carpe diem!


Heather Campbell said...

What advice would you give an aspiring artist who is 10 or 15 years behind you, developmentally?

Christina Wegman said...

Heather, you may not be as far behind as you think! Focus on practicing for about a year, trying to see patterns in what you do well and what you don't. Then spend half your practice time doing the things you do well to keep those skills sharp and your self-esteem unbruised, and the other half on the things you don't so that you can improve. It may take more than a year to develop a style or be doing work that you are proud of, sure, but meanwhile, if you find that there's something you draw/paint that seems to come out consistently well, you can start looking for a market for it. An Arts Council or Art League or even a friend or two who consistently encourage you rather than making "starving artist" jokes can be crucial. . . it will help you through lots of setbacks. There will be plenty of those, but if the goal is something you want, they just become part of the learning process. :-)