Nan DeVincent-Hayes, Ph.D             [ Back ]    [ Home  [ Next

The Value of Local Artists

Don't underestimate the power and value of featuring local artists in your home or at work.  Though celebrated and famous artists give prestige and value to any collection, they, too, were once "unknowns" or only regionally recognized names.  After all, everyone has to start somewhere. 

Developing a nuance for detecting emerging artists is something you can develop with some leg work and perseverance.  By doing this, you'll get a head start on collecting work by artists who potentially will make it big in the near future.  Thus, you'll not only have acquired originals of their work, aligned your home or office with their art, but you'll also have likely built a gold mine in the investment department at a more than reasonable price.  Once an artist has become well known, and, hence, "popular," the cost of acquiring their work rises drastically and often reaches unattainable heights for the lay person or beginning collector.  Get in on the ground floor while you can, jump-starting your collecting hobby while aesthetically and financially investing in a future commodity.  So the secret is to discern which local talent will become "emerging" artists, and from there, which will become successes. 

How do you do this?  How do you determine who's going to "break through" and who's not?  This is a tough call by anyone's standards, but one way to do this is by visiting a number of galleries to see what art by local artists is being featured.  And hang around awhile to measure the reaction of clients who visit that gallery and view the work; their remarks will serve as a good barometer as to how well the artist is being received.  Talk to gallery personnel to get their impressions on the artist, and discuss his or her work with other local collectors.  See if a gallery can attain written background info on the artists you're interested in, and ask for "samples" or "clip sheets" of their work, as well as a copy of the artist's brochure or catalogue.

Some other things you'll want to know are:

1.         how long the artists have been at their art, and what other media they work in.  You'll also want to know if the artists have done other types of art, such as plates, sculptures, and so on.

2.         who they're represented by (what dealer, publisher, gallery); get that agent's name, address, and phone number.  If the artist you're interested in is represented by an agent, you won't have any trouble acquiring the information suggested here for investigating him or her.  Both locally and nationally known artists may be represented by an agent.

3.         what the "appreciation history" is of their most well known work.  What is meant by this is how much their work has increased in monetary and aesthetic value.  You'll also want to know the current value placed on their work.

4.         What their "recognition index" is, or how well they're known in the art world.  Often emerging artists will be found listed in respected data bases, in well-known trade magazines, on the lists of top galleries, and so on.

5.         Likewise, such artists most likely will have created work for prominent personalities, such as corporate CEOs, film celebrities, dignitaries, and other notables.  Discover who these are.

6.         Look into how many shows your artists do a year, which ones, and where.  Ask, too, what awards they have won.

Another benefit of following local artists is that sometimes you can directly access them, as well as visit his or her studio to see what other works have been done, though this isn't usually true for those artists being represented by galleries or other agents.  If the agent and the artist have an agreement that allows you to work directly with the artists, do contact them, and ask to see their studio.

Too, there's also the advantage of having "variety" along with "sameness" in collecting local artists' work.  Consider that the locale itself is often the subject matter of many local artists, so if you're into collecting ships and seascapes, you'll find this "sameness" in, say, resort artists, especially those who were born and raised in that area.  On the other hand, if you want variety in the art you collect, consider those local artists who have come from other states and countries because with them, they bring their background, which is different for each artist. 

So for a lot less money, you can acquire good art from artists of your own--art that may some day become popular and highly successful, making you a prosperous collector in the process.

Nan DeVincent-Hayes, Ph.D. 
Former executive director of a high end gallery..

Copyright 2002 Nan Hayes