Acquiring and Buying Art

Since I started this week off discussing art, we’re going to continue this week’s worth of posts on artwork.  Today, we’re going to discuss acquiring and buying art.

Young Girl Reading by Jean Honore Fragonard
Young Girl Reading by Jean Honore Fragonard

I love art. I think one of the first paintings I ever fell in love with was Young Girl Reading by Jean Honore Fragonard.  My great uncle had given me a print of it when I was young.  It was the first piece of art (even though a print) I ever owned.

In my adult years, I started looking to buy my own original art.  There were the Goodwill purchases at the start or those street vendors selling their wares in cities around the world.  {My favorite was an artist selling his work on the sidewalk in Venice Beach.}  Later, came artist friends.  One friend was the sister of an NHL player who was heading back to her home country and needed to unload her paintings.  She sold two paintings to me for $400.

Later came a painting I found at my grandfather’s home.  It was painted by an elephant in Thailand.  Since my grandfather and I have a connection when it comes to travel, I took it home and had it framed.  It’s one of my favorite paintings.

I started painting on my own, but it had more to do with color than subject matter. Why shop for artwork to match my room when I already have enough paint leftover from my DIY project?  Granted, my artwork wouldn’t sell for pennies.  It’s just for my own convenience.

Today when I shop for art, it’s a mixture of a lot of things: old 18th and 19th century drawings picked up at yard sales and antique fairs, my own photography, and now I’ve commissioned a Borbay painting I can call my own.

Antihero #4 - Tony Soprano by Borbay
Antihero #4 – Tony Soprano by Borbay

Jason caught me on a day I was on a Hannibal shopping spree.  I was buying new home decor items that were Hannibal themed fan artwork.  He approached me about doing a Hannibal painting similar to his most recently finished Tony Soprano painting.

Hannibal (the Mads Mikkelsen version) was on his list of Antiheroes he was going to paint.  Now, he has a buyer, so we treated this as a commission so that I could get my hands on it first (and it be in a size that I could live with since I am lacking wall space these days).

Jason is a friend, so owning one of his pieces, while I can still afford it, is going to be a huge investment for my art collection, because my favorite artwork that I will enjoy for the rest of my life always comes from a friend.  Now that his painting of Michael Jackson is on the cover of Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire
by Forbes Senior Editor Zack O. Greenburg, his work may be more expensive in the months and years to come.  In other words, invest in the artist now before his work skyrockets and you can’t afford it.

He wrote this interesting piece on his blog about buying art over time.  For those wanting to commission a piece of artwork, his post discusses the importance of locking in the price now and paying over time.  If say in 5 years a base commission is $50,000 for a small Borbay painting, you’re going to wish you were able to lock him into that $4,000 price, paying over time, before he became uber-famous.

Just take a look around his website and you’ll see that there is great promise and his work will only be more in demand as the years progress. {He’s got the credentials is all I’m saying.  Just look at what major news outlets have featured his work, including Forbes.}

Mads MikkelsenI decided to take him up on his suggestion and we worked out a canvas size, price, and the payment plan.  Over the next six months, he’ll be creating a painting using this photo of Mads Mikkelsen.

What I’ve noticed is that with each new collage painting he creates, it’s better than the last one.  Considering the last collage of Tony Soprano looked amazing, I am confident in knowing that Hannibal will look even more amazing than Tony Soprano.

Jason always shares the process of creating each of his masterpieces.  Here’s the latest post on the process for creating Tony Soprano.

How to Begin

Buying art is a gradual thing.  Start at places like Goodwill or The Salvation Army.  Stop by artist tables when you see them out on the street trying to sell their work (especially when you are on vacation).  Find young artists that are still fresh and new to the scene.  They do need to eat.

Find art that speaks to you and you don’t mind looking at it for the rest of your life. If you know an artist and love their work, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a commissioned piece on a subject matter you love or want to cherish for the rest of your life. Ask if they can set up a payment structure like some artists offer.

If you have a friend that’s an artist and you love their work, invest in them and their talent.  Sometimes you can work a deal with them, especially when they are making a life change (like moving to another country or across town).

From Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
From Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

I have another friend that is amazing at knitting.  I fell in love with the Katniss scarf (which is not available for sale anywhere).  She found the pattern online, I bought the yarn and she’s now making this scarf for me…and she’s enjoying this challenge immensely.  Not only am I getting this awesome scarf that is not available for sale anywhere, but I’m able to recycle a few t-shirts I’m not using anymore (who knew that to make the coils, they needed to use a shredded t-shirt!?).  So now those NHL t-shirts are being recycled into something new and better.

When you know someone (a friend or a family member) that has an amazing passion, hobby or talent (or that talent is their profession), invest in them.  Some of the most amazing things you will ever own come from those you know, because what they are creating for you will have a story and you are connected to the story, making it more personal for you.

Believe it or not, over Christmas I received a bunch of children’s drawings from Jersey Cares.  Kids drew what they wanted for Christmas and it was my mission to go out and create a Christmas for these kids who wouldn’t have a Christmas.  Those drawings from the kids were probably the best Christmas present I’ve received in a long time.  I gave them Christmas, they gave me art.  In that little piece of paper, they drew their dreams, hopes and wishes for a simple toy that Frosty would give to them.  To a child, that wish means more to them than an adult wish.  We’re used to disappointments by now.  For a child, though, one who has faced enough disappointments, failures and neglect at such a young age, just being able to put a dream down on a piece of paper of what would make them happy and for me to be able to provide them with that little piece of happiness…that’s why that piece of art means so much to me.

Parents and grandparents know what I’m talking about.  Sometimes the best artists in the world are the little ones right under our noses.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth is the voice behind