M.As Guide to the Arts

Before we kick off with today's post which is all about starting out as an art collector, I thought I would offer three new pieces of work on promotion. Each is available in limited quantities and for a limited time at these great prices.


First up is Summer. This is one of my latest works. http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=169987

Summer by M.A


Melting is also another of my latest works. http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=169986

Melting by M.A


Out of the Blue is one of my most popular works. http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=169985

Out of the Blue by M.A


Art is a great way to bring colour, life, and conversation into your home. Art is also either a good or bad investment. Whilst the likes of a work by the German artist Gerhard Richter have fetched in excess of £30m, there are many thousands of relatively unknown artists that might produce better works that can be picked up for less than a few hundred pounds. Of course, art is subjective, and one has to consider whether the premium for a famous or popular artist is worth it. If you like it, want it, and can afford it, buy it. If you think it’s a great investment, think carefully.


Where do you even start? When I started to collect art way back when I was around 25, I had no idea what I was doing. I bought the ones I liked, I never considered reselling them at a later date. At that time in life some twenty-years ago, I had no idea about the business of art. I have been producing digital art since around the 80’s, using every computer I could convince my parents to buy. I had been drawing since around the age of 4, mainly motorbikes, aircraft, and painting a yellow circle in the sky to represent the sun, together with a blue triangle in each of the top two corners of a blank page, to represent the sky.


Only in my early 30’s, did I start commercially producing art. I am now 45, so I have had more than a few years of experience of the commercial art world. I was a late entrant to the arena, despite having created art for so many years prior. Now my "business of art" skills are advanced enough for me to not only spot a fake from the masters, but to generally give a fair valuation of artworks, and even broker the occasional sale.


Unlike other brokers and galleries, I usually only take a finder fee, and a sales fee which comes to around 35% of the final price of the art, with the artist or seller receiving a healthy 65%. Many brokers, agents, and galleries take 50% and a few even more. I don’t have a gallery, so I don’t have anywhere near the same mark up.


You are probably just like me, you’re unlikely to ever spend $66.3m on a late Van Gogh at Sotheby’s or Christie’s. I would dearly love to be able to be in that position, but if I came across $66.3m and wanted to buy some art, I would probably steer away from the Masters and consider emerging artists. There is some truly great work coming out of the art districts in the US, and it’s the same across other nations too.


Before you start looking, I have always advised that you need to train your eye. You need to take a look at hundreds if not thousands of paintings online, in galleries, at art fairs, in museums, or anywhere else you can find art. When I was 25, my tastes in art were very different to today. I loved looking at Lowry, and I loved looking at art that had plenty of white space. It didn’t really matter to me at the time who the artist was, I liked what I liked. Now, I know for certain that at that time, I liked what I thought I liked. My tastes these days are way more complex. Seascapes, and abstract are my preference, although I am partial to the odd piece of cubism.


New York City is a fine example of an art lovers paradise. New art districts are appearing all of the time. Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Long Island City in Queens are great examples of places to go visit, lay down some money, and buy some wonderful art. But, there are other areas too, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Gowanus in Brooklyn. All offering different and yet amazing works. In countries outside of the US, the story is the same. Think Britain, you will probably be thinking of London, but Manchester and Birmingham have some vibrant art scenes too. Travel to the Shires of England, and there are galleries all over featuring great local artists.


Whatever you do when you are starting out, do not buy the first piece you see, wait until you have explored as much as you can. If you like an artist, Artnet sells subscriptions to its database and this gives you access to prices from approximately 1,600 auction houses since 1985. If the artist hasn’t ever been to auction, try to learn about the artist from the web, or go and ask inside local galleries.


When you enter a gallery, you will find that there are a few higher end galleries who can be very stuffy about who they sell to. Do not let this put you off. It’s usual, don’t take it personally, you just need to move on. I remember entering a gallery a couple of years ago with a pocket of cash ready to buy a very nice work from a reasonably popular living artist. I was told that I couldn’t purchase this particular piece of art as it was only to be sold to an established collector of that artists work. Fine, I simply put away the cash and walked away. Now, I have been asked three times by the gallery if I want to attend gallery events. I have never been back once.


Also, never ever be afraid to negotiate. It’s that old adage, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The contract between the art dealer and the artist usually includes some predefined room for movement. It’s not unknown for the price of the work to be lowered from between 5% and 20%, and especially if you have previously purchased any work from that particular dealer. Remember that the artist only usually gets 50% of what a gallery takes. Galleries are expensive, and keeping a stock of art, frames, contacts, and artisan coffee and champagne is never cheap.


Always try to work a sale to your advantage. Many dealers and some galleries can usually work out a payment plan if it’s a higher priced piece of work, and even more so if it has been “hanging” (no pun intended) around for a while.


If the work is still expensive, you might want to consider owning a smaller piece of work from the same artist, or maybe even limited edition signed prints. Even prints can cost a small fortune to the collector just starting out and with a tight budget. There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning something smaller, or a print. Sometimes we need the aspirational thought of one day owning a larger piece, and a smaller work reminds us of that aspiration.


Although I sell via print on demand, I do also sell a limited number of signed prints directly. Over the years, occasional one off buyers have returned to ask for a particular piece of work to be produced and signed. I used to send a signed certificate over with proof of purchase whenever someone purchased through print on demand,now though I only ever sign art work that is sold directly. That way, I have complete knowledge that the quality is in place, and more importantly, I get to know the client.


Always look for a red dot when visiting a gallery. If an artwork on the wall of a gallery has the red dot, it usually means that it is sold. This could be on the wall next to a piece of art, or in the galleries price list. Although legally required to display the price prominently, some galleries still don’t.


Also bear in mind, and I have seen this in some higher end galleries, there could also be more than one price list. I have seen a price on the wall next to a painting and then been offered a price list with a lower price. Asking if there is a second price list rarely works. If the gallery want you to see it, they will show you. Personally I think it is a very nefarious practice, but the reality is that it does happen. It is usually part of some wider customer loyalty scheme that's a little more exclusive.


My advice if you are serious about spending a considerable amount of money is to always hire an art advisor. Generally they can be discovered in online listings, but I always find that asking people you know have used them is far better than picking out the advisor who is either the cheapest, or has a glitzier written profile. Also look at art news, and see who gets a mention.


Whenever you do decide to purchase a piece of art, always, always, set a budget and stick to it. The amount of art auctions I have attended and seen people bid an extortionate amount, and then quickly develop a look of panic is considerable. You can almost hear the “OMG what have I done?” question, as they put their head in their hands.


Online, there are also some great deals to be had. There are many legitimate companies, and online only galleries, and of course there are the popular print on demand services. If it is original non-printed original art you want, yes you can buy some really nice work, but you can all too often be caught up in dazzling websites that offer genuine works, and then find out in the small print that it’s genuinely a copy of a famous work.


The important thing when buying online, is to make certain that where you are making the purchase is actually a legitimate company or dealer. Paddle8 and Auctionata are considered reputable sites. You need to exercise due diligence on sellers and their claims before you commit to spending a significant amount. Always remember it is the provenance of the art, along with the artist, and some independent assessment, that makes the online purchase have more credibility. If you buy from the deep web, then you are likely to be buying a forgery, or a stolen work. The latter might see you taking an art class in a correctional facility, while wearing handcuffs.


Student shows are popular in the U.S. Often you can pick up some great art at very reasonable prices. You need to keep an eye out for them to be advertised. These shows also present an opportunity for some additional negotiation, but remember you will be taking money from the artist if you negotiate heavily.


Art and craft fairs are also great places to discover new and emerging artists. The last day of a craft or art fair is usually the time to see what’s left and make an offer.


One of the other things that people often forget is that if you are on a budget, you can buy fewer works of art, or smaller works of art. There is no art crisis, art is available all the time. You just need to find what you want, and what you can afford. Somewhere, the work you want is out there. You need to simply find it, and to be honest, that chase is half the fun.


Tomorrow will see part two of this art buyer’s guide for the beginner. We will take a look at artistic styles, and some of the artists who are masters in their individual styles.


So those are the basic principles of starting out as a collector of art. Now you will have some idea of where to look for art, and some tips for securing the piece of art you really want.


At the moment the art market is not by any stretch of the imagination, stagnant. It is different to ten or so years ago, as I have mentioned in an earlier post, art that costs over €200,000 is on the up. There is a market for lower cost artworks, but the majority of the big spends these days are for historic pieces, or pieces that have a provenance and a story.


There are plenty of modern day art prints, paintings on canvas that fetch nowhere near €200,000. Take a look on Fine Art America for example and you can buy some really great art at fantastic prices. You can even purchase the originals directly from the artists. My work is available on Fine Art America, Pixels.com, Zazzle and specific pieces on RedBubble and the links are below this post.


We know the importance of training your eye. An artwork you are buying to hang in your home is something that you will need to love and live with for a long time. We also now know that researching different styles of art is critically important.


Budding collectors shouldn’t just buy what initially captivates them. “Ask yourself how something might look when you know more, how something might look over time,” Importantly, ask yourself what is your style, what catches your eye and gives you a great feeling when you look at it. That my friends, nine times out of ten, is you preferred artistic style.


But, what are you looking for? You will need to understand how art genres work. To put it simply, there are many variations on variations of a theme. Abstract art covers a wide spectrum of styles, and that is where we will start.


Abstract art does not use figurative reality as a reference. The artist alludes to his or her subject, and it is never always apparent. In some cases you can look at a piece of abstract art and never quite figure out the meaning. Believe me when I say that even though I am more than a little partial to abstract work, I can guarantee that I or someone else will not always “get it”.


Abstract is about delivering a subject in a simplified form. For me, whenever I create an abstract piece, it can take often three times longer than creating a detailed landscape. Colour and visual fluidity is a technique that I am never sure anyone will ever truly master. Creating abstracts is also difficult because as an artist you need to convey subtlety, make sure colours hang together, and often start over again until you are confident that the original vision is created.


Abstract Expressionism works are generally emotionally charged and spontaneously created. Usually abstract expressionist works convey actions or gestures that have an almost anarchic and rebellious feel using tension and drama. Both Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey are synonymous with abstract expressionism. In the case of Jackson, his works are defined by a chaotic feel, they are busy, and they have a certain raw energy.


Colour Field Abstracts are very different. They are characterised by large blocks of solid colour. These works do tend to be large, and the subject matter is usually the colours themselves. One cohesive image is formed.


Some of the most famous works have been created by Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and of course, Hans Hoffman. Do a Google search (other search providers are also available) and you will see a distinct difference between all of the abstract styles.


There is a further abstract style, lyrical abstraction. These works of art are generally much more romantic in tone. Instead of high drama and tension the style has a unique relaxed randomness and spontaneity. Lyrical abstraction allows the viewer to almost read the artwork.


It's a very difficult technique to truly master, it's also not something I have tried professionally, but it is something I have dabbled in as a personal challenge, and I can confirm that I will need much more practice to pull this style off.


Even digitally it's a challenge, despite having an array of soft filters to hand. The likes of Paul Jenkins, Sam Francis and Joan Mitchell have mastered this style and I think their work is some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen. Pierre Soulages is another artist who has managed to master this particular style with some dazzling results.


When you first buy abstracts, you will probably want to look for something that challenges you a little, but also something that you cannot stop looking at. Over time, you will start to form your own opinions and interpretations, but always try to think ahead. Imagine yourself a few years down the line, is the work something that you feel that you will want to own in the future?


Next we take a look at one of the most known styles, Cubism. Characterised by geometric figures, and not to everyone's taste. It almost has a modern vibe, certainly more so than works by the likes of Renoir for example, but it is a style that has been becoming increasingly popular for a while, and my money is firmly on a future resurgence in popularity amongst younger art collectors.


To produce cubism, the artist really does need to understand how to break a subject up into geometric abstract form. Normally the subject is depicted from various angles, and the style can also fall into the category of partly or fully abstract.


Perhaps the most famous artist is of course Pablo Picasso. George Braque, Jean Metzinger, Robert Dulauney, and Fernand Leger also have laid their name to many fine pieces of art, although my personal preference is Picasso. What I would give to own an original Picasso.


Vibrant colour is often used, and it is probably one of the most commercially reprinted artistic styles. I have been experimenting of late with canvas and digital forms of cubism, although I really need to focus on finishing my last work off. It's another challenging style.


Surrealism is a style that is perfect for transposing to digital art forms, and I have managed to create a few pieces over the years. It's certainly becoming easier to access software that gives some stunning results and the software is developing at a rate of knots, but it is also very difficult to make the work believable, despite it having to have a fantasy feel to it as well.


Surrealism is a modern painting style that juxtaposes various images together. There is often no logic, and often there is also a dream like quality to the images used. Surrealist paintings emphasise the subconscious.


Among the popular Surrealist painters are Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Valentine Hugo, Joan Miro, and Toyen, and I would like to think that one day even my name might be on some sort of list of known works. It's certainly my favourite style to work with, although not necessarily for me to own. Some of the modern pieces are truly bizarre, but there are some beautiful works on sites such as Deviant Art, and even on the print on demand sites.


Conceptual art is a relatively modern artistic style, the belief of the conceptual artist is that the concept of the subject is far more important than the art itself. It's almost as if the work is partly completed for the viewer to fill in the blanks with their imagination.


To some, conceptual art is a form of instruction. It may have a minimalistic painted base, with the remainder of the art created in a very different visual style, in many cases an almost technical drawing of a good proportion of the artwork. Artists such as Marcel DuChamp, Yoko Ono, Yves Klein, and Robert Rauschenberg have perfected conceptual art and it is extremely popular in urban living and work spaces.


Pop Art is an extension to abstract expressionism. In the 1950's British artists believed that it was art that was far removed from normal day to day life. Pop Art revolved around subjects such as comic books, celebrities, and advertising.


Everyday subjects are very often the focus of Pop Art. The genre was and still is a return to realism and representation in art. Prominent artists in this field include Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Wayne Thiebaud who have all produced works that are instantly recognisable. In Warhol's case, probably some of the most instantly recognised artwork in this genre throughout modern day history.


Photorealism is art that looks as real as a photograph. The style is becoming increasingly popular on YouTube as unknown artists with some extraordinary talent create drawings that have a real depth of 3D, and give you the sense that you can for example pick up the pencil carefully drawn on the paper, or lift up the glass and take a sip of water. The style is created using amazing shadows to add depth.


Photorealism is almost an extension of Pop Art. The techniques involved are advanced. Creating this level of detail feels almost scientific, and the artist has to be extremely talented to pull off this method of art. Some of the most talented Photorealist painters include artists such as Glennray Tutor, Robert Bechtle, Tom Blackwell, Don Eddy, and Cindy Wright. If you want inspiration I really do recommend searching YouTube to view some amazing time lapse videos of the process involved.


If you are blown away by Photorealism, then you will be even more blown away by Hyperrealism. This is an advanced take on the Photorealism movement. Usually artists use high resolution cameras to take photographs and then paint them on to canvas.


Exaggerated shadows and inanimate objects become almost lifelike. Hyperrealism focuses on a false "super" reality. Some of the most popular hyperrealist artists include Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Bert Monroy, Duane Hanson, and Charles Bell. Their art will make you stand in awe and it will be almost impossible to think that the work is not a photograph.


Minimalism is totally different and is characterised by its sheer simplicity. Stripping down the subject to its most basic form is the art forms essence. Instead of the energy filled self-expression of a style such as abstract expressionism, minimalism is the complete opposite.


The artist paints what he or she believes is necessary. Nothing more, nothing less, yet it has a striking visual beauty. Artists such as Barnett Newman, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and Frank Stellas demonstrate this simple style perfectly. That of course is not to say minimalism is easy, far from it. It is a very difficult skill to completely master. The artist needs to judge what is, and what isn't needed. That in itself is an art form.


Futurism is next on the list. This artistic style often depicts technology, speed, the future, as expected, and sometimes even violence. The general message is to depict man’s triumph and control over nature. It can also be a style that is heavily anti-establishment, but originality is the key to a great futurism style.


To some extent, and evident in many cases, the artist deconstructs the subject almost in a cubism display of craftsmanship and geometric form. Hollywood generally favours futurism when creating advertising posters for new releases, unless of course, it’s a “rom com”.


Some of the leading Futurism artists such as David Burlyuk, Aristarkh Lentulov, Fortunato Depero, and Gerardo Dottori manage to each create a unique style. Many web sites such as Deviant Art have a vast collection of Futurism works, and certainly worth visiting to train the eye.


Impressionism is perhaps one of the most recognised styles of artistic works, and interestingly is actually one of the earliest modern painting styles. Originating in Paris, impressionism is recognised by thin brush strokes and a strong emphasis on light. Light is perhaps one of the most difficult skills to master. During the 1870’s, impressionism was considered a radical change of direction to producing art.


Claude Monet is perhaps the most famous artist who created impressionistic pieces, although Pierre - Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Armand Guillaumin have become increasingly popular with modern day collectors.


Another of my favourite styles of painting is Fauvism. Understood to have been created after impressionism, and whilst impressionism often depicts a relatively realistic representation of subjects, Fauvism depends on the use of strong colours, wild brush strokes, and a much more simplistic depiction of objects than Impressionist works.


Artists such as Matisse, Maurice Marinot, and Charles Camoin are becoming ever more sought after. Matisse’s work in particular has an almost cubist feel, and it is easy to see why this particular style is popular. It is also a style that is favoured by many modern day artists, so when purchasing Fauvism style artworks, the choice is wide and varied.


There is some important knowledge that you need above and beyond recognising the artistic style that draws you most. Art as an investment is rarely risk free. Even at the high end of the market, there are a number of collectors that are in a position to influence the markets by making art difficult to get a hold of, or on the flip-side making pieces available. The market for high end art is just as risky as Wall Street.


If you are thinking of making small investments in local artists, the work may one day be worth much more, but it depends on the artist’s provenance and to an extent, the artist’s story. Every successful historical artist generally has a story. I know many local and importantly living artists who have great stories. Often it is a case of research or if you meet them, ask them what their story is. Ask the artist what and who inspires them. Historically artist stories have become akin to folk tales and non more so than Vincent Van Gogh.


Vincent Van Gogh created the famous Portrait of Dr. Gachet as a result of being released from an asylum. The story goes that one day Van Gogh wrote to his brother to say that Dr. Gachet was actually sicker than he was. This from a gentleman who lost his ear in a fight with his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh was also known as a tortured genius.


His work “Starry Night” was created whilst a patient in the sanitarium and was actually a view from his window. Created in 1889. During his life, Van Gogh created over 850 oil paintings, and over 1,300 prints, watercolours and drawings. His paintings have been stolen, lost and found many times over the years in various art heists.


Edvard Munch the creator of one of the all-time most expensive artworks “The Scream” created the piece after walking along the city roads and he saw a blood red sky with clouds that gave a nightmarish glow. He felt that nature was screaming to him, so he created one of the most historical pieces of work to date.


Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15th, 1452 and died on May 2nd, 1519 creating amongst many other famous works, The Mona Lisa. The subject of the painting is believed to be Lisa Del Giaconda, wife of a wealthy businessman of that era. Da Vincia was clearly a visionary, creating diagrams of aircraft hundreds of years before they were invented. Some of those diagrams have been built with successful results. He once also said “I know that many will call this useless work”.



Well, I hope you enjoyed this short beginners guide to buying and collecting art. If you like it, I will create a page on this blog with some useful tips as I continue to learn more about that "business of art".


I am also planning a third instalment that will provide some tips for selling the occasional piece from your collection. If you are anything like me, I sometimes sell off pieces from my collection, only to replace with another. Will I ever become rich? Probably not, I love owning art and I am always reluctant to sell it off. Each piece reminds me of a time in my life. Art in my house is a history of family, a history of thinking, and a history of specific periods during my and my family’s life.


Do you have any great tips for those starting out on this path? Perhaps you have made a great or even a bad purchase. I'd love to hear your stories, so please feel free to leave a comment.



Get in touch with M.A using the contact form below or reach out to him via Social Media:



Pinterest @beechhousemedia

Twitter @beechhouseart

Google+ https://Google.com/+MATaylorBeechhousemedia


Buy M.As Work From These Links:






TV/Film/Book Artwork Enquiries: Please send an email to: Mark@beechhousemedia.co.uk



Popular Posts