Investing in art has plenty of advantages. It's a good way to diversify your portfolio, and a good artwork tends to appreciate over time, so it's ideal if you're looking for something a little more long term. And unlike some other investments, you can keep using it while it's accumulating value – a great artwork adds a touch of style to your home and can be an interesting talking point when you have guests. The market is also notably stable, which is reassuring if you're looking for something that might generate a nice profit in decades rather than months or years.
Art investment does have its downsides – it can be difficult to predict which artworks will appreciate dramatically and which will not. But a lot of this can be mitigated by careful research, so if you'd like to give it a try, be prepared to throw yourself into learning about the artistic world. If you're interested but you're not sure how to get involved, keep these points in mind:
Your investment is likely to be more successful and more enjoyable if you choose an area that interests you. Paintings are a good place to start if you have wall space to spare, but there are still plenty of styles to choose from under that umbrella. If you'd like to be a bit more adventurous, you could explore drawings, photography or collage, or even sculpture. If you're not sure what style or school you're drawn to, set aside a day for a reconnaissance mission to some local galleries and museums and see what appeals. Don't be afraid to ask gallery staff if you want to know more about something you've seen – they can probably tell you a lot about the artist and the niche they're working in.
Now that you have a better idea of what sort of artwork you might like to invest in, you have a few choices. Naturally, an original artwork is likely to be the most valuable option, as well as the most exciting. But if you'd like to dip your toe into the waters before you begin investing seriously, you could also try a limited-edition print. These aren't as valuable as original works but they still often appreciate, and they can be a great way for you to try an artist out and see if you enjoy having their work in your home before you make a larger financial commitment.
There have never before been so many convenient options when it comes to buying an artwork. Galleries are a good bet, as they give you the freedom to browse and think over your purchase, and it's usually fairly clear what you would be paying for each piece. Art fairs are another sensible option, as they give you the opportunity to talk with more experienced collectors and get to know a potentially helpful community. Auctions can be very exciting, but it's easy to get swept up in the moment and harder to take your time and think carefully, so it's generally a good idea to wait until you're a little more comfortable before giving it a try. Online buying is also increasingly popular, since overheads are low and the variety available is greater than any one gallery can support – but check reviews first to make sure the site you choose is reputable.
It's important to research very carefully to make sure that you're getting something that suits your needs. Questions you should be asking include:
- What is the artist's reputation? Do they exhibit in prestigious galleries? Have they won awards? What amounts do their artworks tend to sell for, and have their less recent works already begun to rise in value?
- What do I know about the specific artwork? Is it new, or has it been sold before? Does it come with some kind of guarantee of authenticity? Has it been altered or restored? Has it been appraised?
- Who is selling it? Is the artist selling it direct, or is it being sold via an art dealer or gallery? If so, what's the dealer or gallery's reputation?
Once you've chosen and bought an artwork, make sure you know what kind of maintenance is required to keep it in good condition. A lot of this is just common sense – for most artworks you will probably need to handle them gently with clean, dry hands, don't let dust accumulate, and keep them out of direct sunlight and away from damp. A well-chosen artwork that has been carefully looked after can generate a substantial profit after a few years.
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