High Priced Art, Low Priced Art
3 Money-saving tips for buying art on limited budget
One of the first things I learned when I was working for an Art consultancy company was to always ask a prospective client “What budget are we working with?” This question is at the top of the list as it gives us an idea about the project’s scope — what is affordable vs. what is out of reach, how many art pieces are we limited to, etc. While it’s often music to an art consultant’s ears to hear the words “Money is not an issue” or “I don’t have a set budget, as long as I like what I see” this comes as often as a unicorn sighting in the middle of a busy intersection (at least when you are sober). What is not unusual, however, is coming across a client so informed and interested in art that their taste tends to tip the scale of their budget.
Everybody goes through penny-pinching at some point when it comes to acquiring art, not just the consultants, so here are some techniques I’ve learned on how to avoid going over your budget but still get the desired experience.
Pick out the qualities you like most about the high-priced art you’d been eyeing and scout for similar approaches in less established or less renowned but talented artists.
The best art consultants you will ever meet have the deepest bench of alternative suggestions for every client’s artistic preference. Part of this is because one has to be ready for options should a work of art for so many reasons – budget especially – don’t work out as planned. So, here’s my suggestion to you: If you find that you like a certain high- end artwork, say a Yayoi Kusama painting (which has fetched up to US$1.1M), ask yourself what it is about a her work you like. Is it her contemporary take on pointillism that excites you? Is it her approach on color? Is it her voluptuous sculptures? Then do some research and exploration.
Dig through a host of less established artists who are influenced by her, or are doing something similar. For most of us passionate about collecting, this is the most fun part of the process. I live for art school graduate exhibitions, gallery openings and art collective exhibitions. This is where I see what is out there, and before I know it, I suddenly have several options when I only had one when I started.
If you must absolutely have a piece by the artist, would other versions of the piece suffice?
Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons are just two of the blue chip artists who create limited editions of some of their iconic pieces. The enterprising Murakami, through his company, Kaikai Kiki creates limited prints out of his canvas paintings (Some of which can be purchased through our website). Jeff Koons has produced miniatures of his record breaking art Balloon Dog. Fans of these high-selling artists are fortunate as they have an option to buy more affordable versions of the works.
However, as the artists chose to reproduce the original, albeit in a limited number, these editions are less rare and will be significantly less when it comes to valuation. That said, if the intent is to include work from these artists in your collection and you’re working with a limited budget, these editioned works are another avenue to consider.
Be adventurous. Explore works early in an artist’s career.
In the 60’s Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings would sell for as low as $300+. Christopher Wool’s works in the 80’s to the 90’s could often be purchased for less than US$10,000, but nowadays his works would easily command millions of dollars. There is a certain gamble in buying works by emerging artists, as not all artists go on to become famous, so do prioritize buying what you like. I would however, always suggest keeping your ears tuned into the best art or design schools in your cities and attend their graduate shows. This is one of the best places to spot young talented artists whose works are still very affordable. Galleries know this and frequent these venues looking for upcoming talent.
Written by Jing Palad
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