Monday, 8 February 2010

Why buy art?

As a marketing officer I often have to think about the whys and wherefores of what people spend their money on.

At the moment I am pondering why people do (or do not) buy art. Mainly because I am working towards an art sale at work. We've done them before and as part of our commitment to developing artists and contributing to the arts market it has always made sense. And yet I don't think we ever really wondered about who would buy and why. As people who work in the arts and even own a few artworks it seem natural. We understand the value of a crafted piece of work above an Ikea print. So why don't other people?

Don't get me wrong, i'm sure there are tonnes of 'ordinary' people who like art and do buy it. Others might be tempted to buy but aren't sure how to go about it. Then there are also a huge number of people (like my Dad, for example) who simply think about nice pictures that match the paintwork and are quite happy to spend £12-£20 on a print from the high street. And what is wrong with that? Well, nothing, I suppose, except it serves no purpose. Surely they might as well not bother? They aren't buying them in the hope that people will admire them are they? How often will they look at them? Surely a print that is the same custard colour as the walls will gradually blend in and become invisible - more often than not it was never noteworthy in the first place. I sound like a snob don't I? Oh, dear.

For those of us who do buy art for our homes, why do we?

I bought some artowrks for my new flat (I am ashamed to admit over a year later that none of them yet adorn the walls as I'm a little timid about putting holes in my pristine walls... so they, along with my full length mirror, are propped up against them and freestanding on my chest of drawers until someone who isn't afraid and owns a drill comes to visit). But why did I buy them? I am often attracted by the colours. So perhaps I feel that these images represent aspects of my personality. One is simply a photograph of a place I love. Is there is alot of ego in buying art? Do we want something that says something about us - that we have taste, are flambouyant, are intellectual, artistic that we care about how our environment looks as much as how we look?

I also enjoy having something attractive to look at and that itself can't be discounted but surely I couldn've found something cheaper? I probably could but I didn't and I'm still not exactly sure why that is. This could go on for a while...