1. FOLLOW YOUR HEART
Most importantly, if there’s one thing all experts agree on, it’s that you should follow your heart. Bernadine Bröcker, CEO at Vastari.com, advises prospective art investors: “Buy what you love. What really moves you”. And he continues: “I always say that if you have fallen in love with a piece, the probability is higher that someone in the future will feel this magic and the attraction of the work will remain in any case.”
Aaron Hammond, director of My Life in Art Gallery, agrees that the best way to get into art investment is to “buy with the heart. He says:
Don’t make it your main goal to invest in something you’ll sell for a lot of money later – where’s the fun in that?” You should choose a piece that gives you pleasure every time you look at it: That’s the true value of a good investment.
So a good policy is to only buy things that you would like to present on your own walls. Pontus Silfverstolpe is an antiques expert and co-founder of Barnebys, a leading online tool for finding and appreciating art, antiques and collectibles. He comments: “If you invest in something with the intention of presenting it in your home before you sell it, make sure you buy something you will enjoy every day.
Hannah O’Leary is Director of Modern and Contemporary African Art at the Bonhams Auction House: “Art is made to be presented and enjoyed, not locked away in a safe.” She clarifies: “Art is made to be presented and enjoyed. She makes it clear: “Like any investment, art harbours some risks. So if your purchase hasn’t made the expected profit in the first five years, you’ll continue to enjoy the piece until it’s ready.”
2. START SMALL
You don’t need millions in your account to be an art investor. Aaron Hammond advises you to start small and says: “You can start with a few hundred euros. But how do you know where to look for affordable art? Aaron has a great tip for you: “Keep an eye out for new graduates and artists who are at the beginning of their careers”. If you choose this path, he recommends: “Research and ask for advice: it is important that the artist you invest in has the ambition and talent to start a long career. Always ask: ‘What is the artist planning next?
3. FIND OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT THE SUBJECT
Whether you choose emerging or established artists, it’s important to learn as much as you can about what you want to invest in. Hannah O’Leary advises: “Buy what you know. If you’re interested in a particular artist or in art from a particular country or epoch, learn as much as you can about it. Read books, journals and articles, visit galleries and see as many of his paintings live as you can.”
So know what you like and learn everything you can about it … Not only will you enjoy the art more the more you know about it, but you should also learn what is good and what is bad art. And then you buy the best you can get. If you choose Impressionism as your favourite field, it’s likely to be expensive, so you better keep looking around.”
However, not only should you learn about the art itself, but as you research it’s also good to find out as much as possible about the costs involved when the art you’re interested in changes hands. John Axford is an auctioneer at Wolley and Wallis in Salisbury, one of the most successful auction houses in the UK alongside the top 3. He explains: “Make sure you know the cost of buying and selling because it can vary greatly. In most areas of art, certainly ornamental art, the top 1 percent have gained more value than the rest, while files still don’t go well. That doesn’t mean the whole market has improved.”
4. ASK THE EXPERTS
No matter how much you research, you can never know everything. That’s why it’s worth talking to someone who knows more than you do. Hannah O’Leary suggests: “Talk to the experts in galleries and auction houses – most are happy to share their knowledge with you and express their opinion, usually free of charge.”
Bernadine Bröcker adds: “One of the best things you can do when you think about buying art is to listen to those who work in the field. There is a chance that artworks will be offered below value, but it can also happen that an artwork doesn’t deliver what it promises. If you want an honest opinion, then art dealers are the right address for you. You know the objects and take risks every day. So you can be sure that you get a comprehensive assessment.”
John Axford agrees: “I think the most important thing is to find out as much as possible about the subject and then talk to recognized experts in that particular field and ask you for advice on pieces you’re considering buying.” 5. don’t invest in investing.
5. DON’T JUST INVEST IN A NAME
Experts advise not to fall into the trap and buy art only because it is by a well-known artist. Pontus Silfverstolpe believes that “If you’ve seen a piece by an artist you think is known, investable and popular, that’s not reason enough to buy it.” It is absolutely necessary, he continues, “to check the conditions and quality of the work, because any damage, no matter how popular the artist is, will reduce the value of the piece”.
Bernadine Bröcker agrees: “Too many people buy a name, but at the end of the day, the best work by a lesser known artist is better than the worst work by a very well known artist.” 6. compare them to the worst work by a very well known artist.
6. COMPARE THEM TO OTHER PIECES BY THE ARTIST
Pontus Silfverstolpe also recommends comparing the piece that interests you with other works by the artist before you buy it: “If your piece seems less developed or less valuable than similar pieces by the same artist, then you’re looking at a bad investment.”
7. IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, PERHAPS IT IS, TOO
Just as this sentence applies to life in general, it also applies to the world of art investment: hence care! Hannah O’Leary warns: “The art market is flooded with impostors and fakes. So always buy from a reputable dealer or auction house, or if you think you’ve found a hidden treasure on eBay or at a garage sale, get a second and third opinion before you rashly part with your money.” ©The Jewish Museum Museum.
8. INVEST IN HIGH-QUALITY ART PRINTS
“Collecting limited print editions is an excellent way to start collecting art from famous artists,” recommends Hannah O’Leary. “Prints by well-known names like Henry Moore and Henri Matisse can be bought for under 1000 pounds, while their original paintings are unaffordable to most of us. These first-rate artists carry far less risk than the young artists sponsored by contemporary galleries – for every potential Damien Hirst, there are thousands of others to forget.”
Gyr King, director and founder of King and McGaw, agrees on the “virtues” of high quality art print runs: “Investing in high quality art print runs is a great way to start collecting contemporary art. Not only are they more affordable, they also help you find your tastes and interests before you venture into the originals. Limited print editions like Gyr’s at King and McGaw are both affordable and highly collectible – and signed by the artist.
9. TELL A STORY WITH YOUR ARTWORKS
Bernadine Bröcker has a useful recommendation for art investment beginners on how to assemble a collection with long value and broader impact. She comments: “When you start collecting, it’s instinctive – you buy what moves you. But if you continue, think about what you have discovered and what kind of story your pieces will tell.” 10.
10. BUILD A TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP WITH A GALLERY
Finally, if you’re sure you want to invest in art, Aaron Hammond has a tip for you that you shouldn’t ignore: “The goal should be to build a relationship of trust with a gallery that works with permanent artists who suit your tastes and budget alike. He recommends: “Collecting art is a journey of discovery and it’s my job to make sure that new collectors don’t get lost”.