I have observed a natural progression between people, art collecting and artists. Here's some of my thoughts:
We (you, me and everyone else) all started with making our stick figure art in school. We were all artists. A lot of us had our work shown on the fridge at home and when it was time to clean the fridge we were in shock that our parents would want to throw away our precious art. But we got over it in about 20 minutes. I often wondered why we never "cleaned" the walls in the rest of the house, but I soon realized this was the "good art" that mommy bought and likes. I'm starting to sound like I was mentally scarred here - I wasn't - I'm was just observing life and now, I’m just thinking out loud. I could have read between the lines as a youngster and realized I was not an artist but deep down I knew I was. It’s going to take more than Mom cleaning the fridge to convince me otherwise.
As we all got older our art choices evolved with us. We may have hung up free posters we got from school depicting something of the books we read through the library. These posters where soon changed out for images of our favorite music group, dirt bike rider or whomever we were into at the moment. These all eventually get "cleaned" off the walls and replaced by something else though. --Did you know? With posters, artists can actually make a living? The artists or photographer will probably earn $50- $2,000 a year on each image, depending on how popular the image is. If the artists have enough of these out there and each one continually sells for 3-5 years they can have a regular income, but only if they keep producing and getting more and more images into the market. I still get royalty checks in the mail for things I have produced, and I have been out of illustration for quite a few years now. This is good!
The next stage of progression is probably the first time we move into our own place, could be a dorm room, apartment or something. Someplace we are responsible for. We will probably hang our posters back up at first, but then we find other things like family pictures to hang (taken by yourself or other family members). We may need to consider the other person we moved into this place with (best buddy or girlfriend perhaps?) Along with the family pictures comes the artsy stuff from the home goods section of Target or Walmart. You know what I mean - the little images of Chefs or bottles of wine with grape leaves mounted on the imitation wood, nick-knack stuff. –Did you know? The artists creating these are making a good living from their art. These nick-knacks bring in more money than the posters because the licensing company is selling the artists creations, not just stock images of a pop star. The artists creating this type of art must constantly change their images, work with trending styles and colors, and they must report to an art director. It's called branding. It's hard work but pays well. The hard part is having that one thing that will become popular around the country. Like a viral video – there’s lots of videos out there and only a few become popular. I still have my knock-knacks around, the ornate cross from the Christian book store, the imitation bronze from the nutcracker ballet, and many more but my last poster has been retired to the garage. It’s a woodcut inspired poster from the Redwood Creek Wine Company. The artist is unknown, but the image is nice.
Painted Fox Fine Art Print. 12 x 24 Available on my Web Store
As we move on in life we come to a stage were something in the art world catches our attention. A painting, a sculpture, a photographer or whatever. We come across their work and soon find out we cannot afford their "crazy prices" so we buy our first print or first small non-metal casting of the sculpture. We may also start collecting things from these artists like calendars, greeting cards, show announcements or some other medium that allows us to keep this coveted work. If we are really moved, we just might purchase a tiny original piece from the artist at a local art fair. Tiny as in 6x6 inches or smaller. All of these can be framed and or presented in the living room and we can tell everyone we are collecting the artists work. –Did you know? The artist's involved may make some money off these reproductions but usually not a lot. A photographer could run all over the state taking pictures for weddings, graduations, air shows and such, enjoy this process but probably won’t become wealthy doing this. Same goes for the painter at the art fairs. The time involved with all the different aspects of the fair along with the production of the art generally cost the artist a lot and so the result is usually the artist makes enough to purchase supplies and hopefully help pay the rent. It's bread and butter. This is all good, just not ideal. Many artists completely enjoy this process, the travel, meeting the people, etc. –In hindsight - As beginning art collectors, we're falling in love with art and we're making our house beautiful – most likely, we have stopped renting and have moved into our first house, condo or something by now. That girlfriend is now a wife, etc. The artist is probably still in the shared apartment but is actively making a future collector out of us. Their only needs in life is to be able to purchase their much-needed supplies to continue their passion.
For the next stage of progression, we get to the exciting part, the time when we first purchase a substantial original piece of art. We'll remember this purchase, the artist and location for the rest of our life. The art itself will probably become the focal point of our living room. As friends and family come over to visit, it will become a conversation piece. When they go home they will look at their first purchase again with a new attitude or they will go home and look at their small nick-knacks and think "I wish I had an original work of art." --Did you know? For the artist, this is when the money happens. With this surge of income from the sale of a good sized painting, it becomes possible to buy that new camera (yep, I did this) to buy a year’s worth of supplies (yep, bought a years’ worth of canvas), to try that new medium, to purchase a group of prints for the next big show, to pay someone else to make their frames so they have more time to spend in the studio, and on and on and on. This is a very exciting time but there is one problem; For the artist, these surges happen every once in a while, so we cannot rely on them to pay the bills. That's why I call them "surges." Surges are good but the artist needs more to survive.
The Carrot, 36 x 48 Oil on Canvas Sold to collector in Crestline, CA. Prints are available
The final stage is the collector stage. No more posters, no more cheap nick-knacks. We get to a point in life when we collect things that truly make us happy. This could be license plates, wines, antiques or even art. The important thing is that we eventually get to a point where we are willing to drop our hard-earned money on these things. This is a good thing for license plate dealer, artists and everyone else. A collector is born when we wish to change the focal point from over the mantle to the much larger area over the couch, so we call up our favorite artist and ask for a commission. Or it happens when we purchase a second or third original painting for the dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, etc. A collector is born when we fill our homes with the things we love. –Did you know? For artists, the more originals that are purchased means the "surges" in income get closer and closer together until the point comes when we can rely on these as regular incomes. Ya-ooh!! -- From my point of view, you almost become family. After all, you become the caretaker of my children (not actual human kids, but my paintings). Just like I mentioned before about remembering the time and place of your first original art purchase, I remember the same detail about every one of my paintings. After all, I have spent hours and days in front of the canvas shaping the image into something very personal to me. The photographer may not remember very family photo they ever shot but could tell you in detail about the long hike, the early morning set up, the animals they passed just to capture that one beautiful shot of the early morning mountain fall colors hanging above your couch. For me, when seeing a piece of art after a long separation, I will want to touch it, feel the texture, I'll remember the sweet spots and the parts I struggled with. When you purchase a piece of my art this is what your buying into:
You're buying into my 40 plus years of passion for art. You're buying into my life.
Welcome to the family!