A wall of art blocked my view of the green sand dunes and beach volleyball courts; live music rode each beach breeze with excitement. My husband and I meandered through the artists’ booths and arepa stands. Each white tent hosted a myriad of imagery. We admired a few items here and there, a necklace with a charming tree (or was it alluding to coral?). We spent a few minutes looking closely at some art that reminded us of Andy Warhol’s soup cans, except these were cans of Goya beans and mojo sauce, Andy with a latino spin.
We suddenly came across an abstract painting that stood out like a hitchhiker hunting a ride home from the festival. I entered the painting’s tent. It was well lit, almost like an indoor gallery. In its center stood the artist. Unlike the other artists who sat out of the way, allowing patrons to circle their exhibits freely, this artist stood at her podium like an eagle keeping her eye on me (was I her prey?).
I noticed a massive piece that hosted an African American woman trapped behind the lines of abstract drippings, the drippings alluded to bars (bars of society? bars of low self-worth? the bars of racism? sexism?). Immediately, I was intrigued and empathized with the woman in the image. It was powerful and interesting; Mona Lisa even came to mind.
My trance was broken as the artist said, “Do you like it?” The answer was obvious. “So, then make an offer,” she demanded somewhat aggressively indicating frustration or impatience. She then went on to explain that she had not made a sale all day. “I’m sorry to hear that,” I responded. As I examined more of her work, she began to give me a lesson on how to buy art, saying, “if you connect with it, the last thing you want to do is regret not buying it later.” Good point, I thought. But I was taken aback by her intensity. I didn’t like how she spoke to me; it kind of “killed my vulnerable vibe.” If it weren’t for her art, I might have run out of the conspicuously vacant tent asap.
Ironically, it was this intensity in her art that pulled me closer to the work. When my husband and I finally escaped her strange gaze, I wondered how I could like her art so much and then not like her at all. Would I have bought a painting if she had approached me differently? Probably not– I have enough trouble trying to figure out where to put my own paintings. However, the whole encounter with this lady inspired me to reconsider my art buying strategy. I realize that spending hundreds of dollars on a lesser known artist feels like a waste of money. Why would I spend money on art when I could save it for more important investments like a new home?
Her comment about the art “connecting with you” echoes in my busy head. The process of purchasing art has nothing to do with home decor trends or aesthetics or color schemes; it’s a highly personal experience. You can’t google the question, “is this sculpture a good investment?” Buying art embraces spontenaity and self-confidence. It’s a strategy that we aren’t used to.
The art that connects with you might not be the prettiest piece; it might be indecipherable blobs of color or a picture of disturbing darkness, a catharsis. There’s no formula to buying art. However, based on my personal experiences, I compiled a list of helpful questions to ask yourself before walking away from a painting that intrigues you, or before pulling out your wallet because of pity for an artist.
5 Things To Consider When Buying Original Art
1. How long did you stand in front of the piece? Did the art absorb more of your time and focus than the other works? If yes, this art piece might merit your finances.
2. What did you feel while you observed the art? The piece should elicit some form of emotion, otherwise it will inevitably hang on your wall unnoticed like the Pulp Fiction movie poster you bought in college.
3. Ignore the artist (especially if he or she freaks you out lol). I know it sounds weird, but remember that the artist (even if she painted or sculpted it) won’t come with the painting. Once the work is yours, the connection rests solely between the work and you.
4. Don’t think about anyone’s opinion but your own. Don’t let thoughts like, will my mother find this inappropriate? What if other people don’t get it like I do? Remove the influence of others from your decision. Considering opinions other than your own can make you doubt your taste and muddle that initial special connection you felt with the work.
5. Avoid asking yourself the question, why? Chances are you may not ever be able to answer the question. Avoid psychoanalyzing your preference and just believe in the work and yourself.