Opinion - Three Reasons to Not Buy Art


Artist Susan Omand gives you her top three reasons why you shouldn’t buy art. Wait, what?...

I love art. All kinds of art and, you know me, I’m not going to tell you what to like or what to not like in the art world. Everyone has their own taste whether it is Rembrandt’s classic portraiture, Rothko’s modern abstract or Bob Ross’ happy little trees and mountains and I am not going to decry your choices for what to put on your walls if you love what you choose but there are three reasons why you should NEVER buy particular types of art.

NEVER buy interior designer art. I’m not saying never buy art from shops like Ikea because they do have some lovely mass market photos and prints. What I mean is never buy a piece of art to hang on your wall just because the colours in the grey pebbles match the grey carpet or it has the same paisley pattern as the cushions. You see it all the time on these home makeover shows, the designers choose beige walls with one accent feature wall in brightly coloured heavily patterned paper and then take a square of that wallpaper and frame it to hang on the beige wall to “pull the room together”. All very designery but it’s NOT art. Art shouldn’t tone in with its surroundings or be forced to meld into the background otherwise it is not being treated fairly. Individual pieces of art are, and should be, created to stand out, to provoke a reaction, whether this is shock, excitement or calming but when art is not noticeable it is unreactionary and you are doing the piece, and the artist, a disservice.

NEVER buy art just because it’s trendy and everyone else is buying it. Again I’m not saying never buy a print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Gustav Klimt's The Kiss to grace your walls. If YOU love it, buy it and display it with pride but don’t buy things because magazines and catalogues tell you that you should like it even if you don’t. Conversely, never be dissuaded from buying a picture that you love just because it’s out of fashion at the time. Art is a trend setter, not a follower. Who’s to say that your choice of electric blue squares, vase of dahlias or card playing spaniels isn’t going to be the next big thing, so don’t listen to art critics, fashion gurus or even the next door neighbour. You like what you like, have confidence in your own choices.

NEVER buy art purely as an investment. Art is not a commodity to be locked away in a safe until the price gets high enough to make a profit. Pictures were never made to be treated that way, they were created to be displayed and enjoyed. The financial return on any investment is never guaranteed anyway so there’s no point in throwing all your money into an artwork that you either really hate or that will never see the light of day due to insurance concerns because you won’t get any enjoyment out of owning it.

So why SHOULD you buy art? If you look at a piece and it stirs something in you, if it makes you feel an emotion or you engage with it in some way, that is the ONLY reason to buy art. It doesn’t matter if it’s a full sized oil painting, a print or even a postcard, if it brings you joy in and of itself, then buy it. And, by the way, never disregard buying prints and postcards as ways of owning art. Very few people can afford, or can find space for, original paintings but everyone deserves to have art in their lives. Just make sure you actually like what you buy.

Image - EBay (notably went unsold)