Recently I wrote regarding art as an investment, comparing it to the legalized gambling that takes place in the stock market. I mentioned the blue-chip investor who only buys dead artists, and the wildly speculative hipsters who prefer those still amongst the living; and then further broke down this group into those who buy mostly for their own self-satisfaction and those who buy living artists hoping their paintings BECOME blue-chip with the artist's untimely passing. I may have given the impression that in both cases the investment quality of their art portfolio was a primary factor in their purchases. That is usually not the case.

Why then, DO people buy art? Whether it's for home or office, it is most often purchased as part of a decor. But I must disagree with those who think a home decor is NOT an investment. It IS, and a HUGE one at that, not in the sense that it is going to appreciate in value (quite the contrary in fact). But it IS an investment in their prestige, in their peace of mind, and in their personal happiness. The same is the case with any artwork they purchase to augment that home decor, except for the fact that it MAY increase in value, and in any case, if it's chosen carefully, should not DECREASE in value as would be the case with the drapes and couch. For anything to increase in value there has to be a limited supply of it. And so long as the art is run-of-the-mill from a run-of-the-mill artists, there's NEVER going to be a shortage of that.

What we have to do in "training" art buyers is to help them see, in purchasing from a living artist, those qualities that lift that artist from the masses...not the "unwashed masses"...but from the masses of working artists turning out derrivative, ho-hum landscapes, still-lifes, florals, abstracts, etc. for no other purpose than to "match the couch." If WE as artists insist upon seeing and selling our work primarily as home decor, then it will continue to be seen in that light and ONLY in that light. But, if we can educate buyers to those factors in an artist's work and career that make him or her REALLY exceptional, then appreciation in value may not be the ONLY thing they consider in their purchases, but it will at least be more of a factor than it is today, and that means increased income for those artists doing outstanding work.