You probably think I scoff at the mass-produced printed copies of paintings for sale at the likes of HomeGoods and Target. Surprise—I’m going to start by acknowledging that that stuff has a purpose and a place.
I don’t think I need to make a pitch for why you would want original art over what I’m going to democratically call wall décor, but I will make the pitch that original art is easier to buy than you think. I’ll try to get you over a few common hang-ups I hear from people.
“I’m not an art person.” Yes, you are. I am confident that everyone has seen at least one work of art that has stopped them in their tracks. There has been at least one painting or sculpture that you paused in front of while cruising through a museum. AND: Just because you can’t talk about that painting the way a curator would doesn’t mean you didn’t have some response—and that is what is special about art.
And that response doesn’t have to be existential. It can be happy, calm, silly. Much of the time, those simple feelings are what the artist was trying to capture, too. When someone recently bought a floral still-life of mine, I asked him, “Why did you choose this picture?” His answer: “Um, I like the colors.” Guess what? Me, too! That’s why I painted it.
“Galleries are intimidating.” That’s probably because you think you can’t talk about art. You don’t have to talk about it. That’s the gallery’s job. You just have to like something and point to it. I promise the gallery assistant is happy to have you stop in. Have you ever seen a crowded gallery on a regular day? No. They’re jonesing for visitors. Afraid to ask about the price? First, prices should be clearly visible. If not, ask—you could be pleasantly surprised. Or it’ll be so outrageous you’ll giggle. I’ve done that.
“I don’t have that kind of money.” It’s easier than ever to find something you can afford, because there are so many more options than there used to be (see below). And just like any other purchase that you know could run high, consider your budget, your needs (yes, you need art—are you going to have bare walls?), and your wants.
“I don’t know where to shop.” It’s all around you: art fairs, eBay, Salvation Army, my Web site, my studio, other people’s Web sites, Etsy, garage sales, Instagram, Pinterest, interior designers, cafes, local art centers and schools. And because many of these options allow you to have direct access to the artist, 1) you may pay less and 2) when you talk to the artist you have a better connection to the artwork. Isn’t it fun to have a good story about a purchase?
“I don’t know what to buy.” Buy what you like, and you’ll never go wrong. This art going to be in your house, so you’re the one who is going to look at it every day. You don’t have to “get” it—the artist’s intention, inspiration, or message. If you have a response to something, that’s the piece for you.
Okay, I can’t help it. Here’s my small pitch for original art from someone who likes to buy it, not just make it. What I admire most in original art is being able to see “the artist’s hand”—the texture of the brushstrokes in a painting. Next is the luminosity of paint. When light hits a pigment (the color in the medium), you can see its richness, depth, nuance. A printed copy flattens everything and drains its energy (not in a mystical sense, just in a lively sense). Last, it feels good to support a real person who made something with their hands, heart, and mind.
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
I love periodicals, and if I weren't trying to devote more time to painting I'd mail paper copies. Sign up here, and I'll conveniently send it (blog posts, sales, and new work) by e-mail instead.