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When it comes to investing in a great piece of artwork, don't put a sticker on it until you do these five things.
You've found the home, picked out the furniture and accessorized the surfaces. But you don't know what to do with the walls, which could use some art — something that goes above and beyond the options found at your typical home furnishing store.
Not only is art aesthetically pleasing, but purchasing it is also a smart way to diversify your financial portfolio. And like any other investment, you need to be smart about it.
1. Be prepared and practical
When looking to buy a piece of artwork, you must be practical, but you also have to be open to letting yourself fall in love with a piece you can't live without, advises Emily-Jean Alexander, director of Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair, an annual affair held each February in Toronto. "The practical side of approaching art buying means that you should enter the process with a framework for: what space or areas you have for displaying artwork, if you're looking for one piece or multiple pieces for a salon-style wall, and what styles or themes are appropriate for your space," says Alexander. "It is also good to know your budget and that size matters. That one beautiful painting for over your couch should cost more than the small one for your foyer because of time, material and labour. Other mediums like photography or editioned works can be less expensive because they are made in multiples."
2. Educate yourself
Be familiar with the current art market. "Do the research and start networking with other like-minded collectors by attending gallery openings and free and public preview events at auction houses. Not only are they fun, but you'll also get a firsthand account of where the art market is headed," says Yvonne Monestier, a Toronto-based art advisor and Public Art Curator at the City of Mississauga. "Attend art fairs where you can discover a lot of new work by a variety of artists in a short time. If you don't have the time or the patience to read art market reports and various articles on current industry trends, hire an art advisor who will do this for you and offer a curated list of potential art investments. Art advisors can also provide access to artist studios so you can personally speak with the artist whose work you're interested in."
3. Get to know the artist
"When you are ready to start looking at artwork, find a setting where you can directly interact with the artist to get a deeper understanding of their artistic practice," agrees Alexander. "At Artist Project, our purpose is to allow for a more personal experience with art, because this interaction will often lead to a deeper relationship with an artist or a piece of their work that lasts beyond just buying a piece. Sometimes when you see the right work of art you just know it, but asking questions about past exhibitions, where they went to school, and who influences their practice, as well as looking at other artworks from the same artist, is good way to engage in selecting something that you know if the right fit."
4. Don't buy on impulse
Although it makes sense to invest in more expensive pieces of art, doing so needs to be approached with a degree of caution. "The biggest mistake people make when purchasing pricey art is just that; buying pieces that have too high of a price tag based on impulse," says Monestier. "It's all too easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of attending an art fair or a glitzy art opening and walking off with something that you simply can't afford. I always advise clients to know their budget ahead of time and not buy beyond their means unless they are willing to take the risk. Otherwise, sticker shock will surely set in when you get home and you'll end up not only regretting the purchase but also disliking the piece in the long run. Don't buy on impulse unless you're willing to, or can afford to take the risk."
5. Be patient with investment pieces
Investing in art can be rewarding, but it doesn't happen overnight. In very rare cases does an art piece appreciate in value quickly. "Just like the stock market, there are of course exceptions, but for the most part, you need to brace yourself in patience and be prepared that not every single piece you own will become the next Kim Dorland or Banksy," says Monestier. "But just as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait and art can be the ultimate waiting game, but a fun one at that."
The Artist Project features works from 300 independent artists, including Emily Carriere, the winner of the fair's 2018 Untapped Emerging Artist Competition. "Since showing in the fair last year, she has evolved her practice, incorporating acrylic and producing pieces, which are intricate, iridescent, and sculptural," says Alexander. Another artist to know is oil painter Alex Garant. "From the first time I saw Alex's body of work they drew me in, and each time I return to look at them I see a different layer of process and detail," says Alexander. She also highlights Matthew Beasant, whose work has had a noticeable shift in approach and size.
"Patience is key," says Monestier. "Enjoy the process of getting to know your local art institutions and allow your collection to develop and mature naturally, fuelled by sound knowledge and love. You need to be prepared to live with your investment for a long time. Art is like a relationship; you need to make the commitment."