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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Art is Like Real Estate or a Used Car

These days there are people out there that buy even the worst real estate on spec. This includes old dilapidated houses, condemned buildings and tenement slums. They then turn them around and make a profit on them. The same thing applies to old cars. How many of us have seen signs on corners that say "Will buy your old car for cash".

There is apparently money in these things. So, why aren't investors investing in artists? Flipping art for a profit could (if done right) become a very profitable business for investors. I know that some investors place their cash in expensive art that they know will appreciate in value. But what about Peggy Guggenheim who invested so wisely in so many unknown artists? Why isn't she a role model for a new system of investment?

I've recently begun to invest in some of my fellow artists by creating a simple brokerage system to help enhance the visibility of their work. If I can do this as a poor artist, what could an investor with money and access to someone who has an eye for art do?

I think part of the problem is that investors have not trained their eye to see the potential in this untapped market. Some would say "well if we invest in a lot of art then the market will be glutted". I counter that argument by citing the fact that according to Green Car Reports, there are 1.2 billion cars on the road worldwide. Is that stopping us from producing more cars each year? A car is not a throw away resource. Even the oldest crappiest car can often have value, if not as a used car, eventually as an antique. Why not art?

Others would say "Well if you flood the market with lower end art then the investment goes down on the high end art". I feel that is like saying if you produce a Chevy, then it will lower the price of a Mercedes.

The simple fact is that until a few better known investors start the wheel turning, the art vehicle will just sit and rust.

In some ways gaining the attention of an investor is much like trying to catch the eye of a gallery owner. Also in many ways a gallery owner is similar to an investor as they are investing in that artists future. But the gallery system is failing more artists than its creating successes of. We MUST start thinking in new ways and helping others to do the same.

A good place to start as an artist, is to show an investor the bottom line. If they buy 50 pieces of your art at $100 each, then turn around and sell them for $125, they are already making a good profit on the work. Yes thats profit that the artist doesn't make, but we are talking about establishing the artists name, not later when they can easily sell their own work.

Established artists do not need this kind of help. But unknowns, outsiders and emerging artists do indeed need that kind of help.

Another place to start is with variety. No investor is going to consider you until you have at least somewhat of a body of work behind you. Remember the key to this is quantity. You want to attract bulk buying so the investor can in turn make a greater profit. 

But how do you attract them in the first place? 

Consider for a moment inviting ten high income visitors to see your collection. This can be in the form of private studio visits, or even a larger showing. The accommodations do not have to be fancy. But the art must be well displayed and well lit and information MUST be provided on the whole collection. And keep in mind you are trying to attract an investor, not an individual buyer, so the information you provide must talk about how you the investor can profit back from the work. 

This won't be easy. It may take one hundred or more potential investors to see your work. And after each one you should retool your information portfolio based one what you learned about the session. 

You may also consider doing this with individual gallery owners. Instead of trying to attract their interest by stumping from gallery to gallery, instead create an invitation just for gallery owners to come in and view your work on a specific night or day. It may take awhile to attract them and you may have days where absolutely no one shows. But if you are persistent yet polite, you might be surprised who you may see. 

In the end, the art does not sell itself by sitting on the shelf, but it does have an inherent value. Consider the worth of each piece. If you decide the piece is worth $200, then cut it down for investors by half. Better to get some profit than have the art collecting dust on your shelf. 

Once your established then you can set a cost that is more worthy of the art you are selling, but for beginners, get what you can by people who know art. And most important, remember, as your skills increase, your work both gets better and increases in value. So keep creating.


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