Should you invest in art?

Winchester has a reputation for fine art, much of which is beyond the reach of most amateur collectors. However, Chris Mabire of Canvas Gallery explains why smart investors can obtain some incredible works of art with the right approach.

White Knight, JJ Adams

White Knight, JJ Adams

I’ll start this blog with an obvious but important disclaimer. As with any financial investment, there are no guarantees when purchasing art. Values of art work can, of course, rise and fall, so any investment is at your own risk.

Before we talk about finances it’s also important to make one important point: you should always buy art that you love and enjoy now. An investment doesn’t have to just be financial, it can (and should be in the case of buying art) be something that enhances your life for many years to come.

Unlike financial and many other alternative investments, art can be fully consumed while you own it. For example, using your classic car adds miles and may reduce its value. And consuming your vintage claret will undoubtedly affect its value!

Like predicting the next ‘hot’ location for buying property, there is an element of risk/reward when investing in art. Those with the means can play it safe by buying work from established artists knowing with a strong degree of certainty that it will grow in value. However, the smarter money pays attention to the latest trends and finds those works that can be purchased at a good price before their value rockets.

The rewards are great.  Investing in an up-and-coming artist can present huge financial return. Banksy prints unsurprisingly have been a phenomenal investment. So have many Bob Dylan pieces as his reputation as an artist has grown. I’ve seen examples of his work published in 2008 at £1250 which are selling up to £10,000 now. John Myatt is another artist featured at Canvas Gallery.  He sold his first ‘genuine fakes’ for £200 in 2001, now they cost up to £40,000.  (Learn more about John Myatt’s fascinating history on our website.

To invest in art, you need knowledge and a good eye. You should also heed the following tips:

John Myatt's 'genuine fakes' are now valued at more than £40,000

John Myatt's 'genuine fakes' are now valued at more than £40,000

1) Ignore age
Age is often misleading.  Artists often flourish during their later years, so don’t assume that just because someone is young and ‘up and coming’ that they will automatically be the next big find in art.

2) And hype
Similarly, don’t be fooled by hype - publicists and publications will often try to inflate the importance of an artist.  Trust your own judgment and your gut feeling - not the press release or write up in a glossy magazine. 

3) Stories
Stories are emotive.  The story of an artist can be inspiring, tragic or unusual.  All that matters is there’s a story which draws buyers and gives context to the piece.  The story elevates the art, so if you find an artist whose story you find compelling, others will too.

4) Originality
In our homogenised and saturated culture, it’s difficult to be original.  Art is no exception.  If someone produces something which feels fresh and original, it is likely to attract plenty of attention.  It could be the subject matter, an unusual blend of mediums or a new way of interpreting something well known.  Originality is rare and therefore valuable. 

5) Would you show it?
Don’t underestimate your own reaction to an artist.  You might appreciate the craft and endeavor of a piece, but if you wouldn’t hang it at home or in the office, why would you buy it? Your own taste and reaction to an artist is critical.  

Remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to buying art.  An artist may appear to ‘tick all the boxes’ but not gain in value.  If this is the case, then the fifth tip is even more important.  If you like and enjoy a work of art, then it is always money well spent.  So above all, buy what you love and you can’t go wrong.

I’ve compiled a list of the five up and coming artists we’re currently showing in Canvas Gallery.  Click the link to learn more, and pay us a visit.

Canvas Gallery is located at 169 High Street, Winchester.