Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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02/21/2006: "I know I said I would stop but..."

For some reason this article titled Anatomy of an Art Market Bubble had me bummin majorly.

"The apex of the contemporary art market is superheated to the point of meltdown. Money is everywhere-- big money, all kinds, flowing freely, infused with euphoria. Prices spiral up and up, endlessly, exponentially; everybody wants in on the action and we're all getting very rich very fast."

ahem...we're all getting what???

or these little excerpts on why the current "bubble" exists:

"Not enough time has passed to know which young-art-star art is fad and which is classic, yet it's all priced as classic. (In extreme cases, prices for brand new art by relatively untested artists exceed those of modern masters.)"

"Selling prices for an alarming number of young artists are doubling, tripling, quadrupling, and more almost overnight."

So, what am I? Chopped liver!???

Replies: 12 Comments

on Tuesday, February 21st, Howard said

This leaves me scratching my head as well.
It doesn't really apply to us though. When the bubble breaks the people who are going to get hurt by it are the people stupid enough to invest this way and the unfortunate artist who get caught up in it.
Personally I feel bad for the artist that are going to get hurt by this. It's going to be a bitter pill to swallow when the value of their artwork starts falling.
It's not like people are going to stop buying artwork when this all comes crashing down, but the market will be reduced to people who buy artwork because they love the work, not because they see $$$$$ turnover.
At least This isn't the Tulip Bulb Craze from 1634-37. Now that was messed up.

on Tuesday, February 21st, Elise said

Ah yes, the devestating Tulip Bulb Craze of 1634-37!
I guess I should be happy that my work will (sorta) sell somewhat consistently for very little!

on Tuesday, February 21st, Howard said

Well, I don't think that's true either. I think an artworks value will be more realistic.

on Tuesday, February 21st, Elise said

Actually, I completely agree with you...And you can look at it from the standpoint that by charging less for art, it can stay affordable so that more than the super rich can afford it.

on Tuesday, February 21st, RB said

The article also says "people who love art (aka collectors) buy it for intrinsic intangible reasons. They know they can't do anything with it. It serves no obvious purpose. It just sits there enriching their lives. They could care less what they paid for it, what it's worth now, or what it might be worth tomorrow. They have no intention of selling it anyway"

Unfortunately, this isn't entirely true. It may apply to some, but there has also been an increasing trend to see art as just another commodity,something to invest in and make a profit on.

on Tuesday, February 21st, Elise said

Well, I suppose if you have no reputation (representation etc.) and someone buys your work then you can pretty much assume they are buying it because they love it and want it to enrich their lives. That's why I hope happens when someone buys one of my pieces. If it's seen just as a commodity, most likely it will just sit in some dank corner gathering dust.

on Wednesday, February 22nd, spion said

have a nice day , greetz from holland…

on Wednesday, February 22nd, Jackie said

Not that I ever have to fear about making piles of money selling my art - but I've always felt good about selling affordable work, that more people can afford.

It really turns me off when I look at art that is overpriced - I don't mean at some swanky gallery - but the artist has maybe never shown his work before, and now he has this $3,000 price tag on a painting. Part of that is the galleries' fault - for tacking on their huge 60% or more commissions. :blush:

on Wednesday, February 22nd, Elise said

Hi Jackie...I agree, I feel good about it too...but I also feel that if I continue to sell such "affordable" art, I may never reach my goal of working full time as an artist. All the time I spend at my day job takes away from time I could be I feel a little sour grapes that some relatively new "young" artists are making bucketloads of money and will be able to support themselves (with heat and everything) that I can only dream about. Yes, sour grapes indeed. I suppose I should just be happy for them.

on Thursday, February 23rd, Daniel said

A while back when I was selling everything for around $500 or less- another (much more successful) artist told me that she had once had low prices too, but had trouble getting representation and was finally told by a gallery (after many rejections) that if she ever wanted representation she would have to sell in the $2k range and up. Otherwise galleries would have to commit to selling too much work from one artist in order to turn a profit. She made the change and has never regretted it. While she sells less work to entry-level collectors (on her own); she sells very well out of galleries. I witnessed one show (in Montana of all places) where she had 12 abstract paintings at $2900 and up and sold out on opening night. I tried it and personally, noticed my sales go up once my prices increased - on the other note my sales are more spread-out as well (sometimes months apart), but when I sell - its 4 or 5 at a time to one collector.

on Thursday, February 23rd, Elise said

Hi Daniel, that's something I've always seems that the more you charge, the more valuable your work is preceived as being. There is a lot of psychology involved in buying anything I suppose it's true for art as well.

Pricing work higher means a better chance at representation and a better chance of making a living from your art, but it also means pricing yourself out of certain markets.

Everything I've read has said that if you are consistently selling your work you can raise your prices by up to 15% a year, but in order for me to price my work in the ranges that make it desirable for galleries etc. it would take a long time to get there.

I mean, I wouldn't never feel comfortable suddenly pricing my work 50% or more higher for no apparent reason. If none of it sold, I'd have to lower prices with tail between legs.

on Tuesday, February 28th, berry bowman connell said

Words never describe art. And that is the best description yet, I think. The clowns who wrote that (I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. It gives a bad name to clowns,...) are just letting words happen so they can feel something. Anything.

And yet, being of the type to describe something they know absolutely nothing about will be their own bane.
Drop it, ferget it.
They are the dust beneath your feet.