Collecting art, especially the work of emerging artists can be a savvy investment – or like any investment it can be a somewhat costly mistake.

Somewhat, because if the collector enjoys the art and it enhances their home or place of business, even if the price for the artist’s works decreases, at least one has the art! If a stock, bond or other type of investment looses value all one has are the statements.

Jim Kramer hosts an entertaining and popular program and has written various books about how to invest in the stock market. Kramer stresses that an investor must do her homework on a weekly basis. The days when one bought a stock, especially a blue chip one and just held onto it are over. Investors buy and sell and trade, often daily.

Although collectors also do homework that involves learning about art and artists, the majority of art investments are held for years, possibly decades. This is especially true when collecting the work of an emerging artist as the artist’s career takes time to build. Of course the trick is to find an emerging artist whose work will become more valuable over time.

We can look back over the history of modern art through living contemporary artists whose work is granted shows in top museums and galleries while the price for their works continues to rise at auction to find commonalities that seem to hold true for today.

Talent and determination are key shared factors. Successful artists, once they decide to be artists just do not give up. For his time, Vincent van Gogh became an artist later in his life, after several failed careers. However, once he began to paint, the fact that his work was not selling never deterred him. It wasn’t that failure was not an option – quitting was not an option. The same can be said for certainly every great artists, such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, but also others whose works continue to appreciate in value.

Passion indicates determination, not necessity. Many people appear to have passion but the true test of passion is the person’s determination to continue no matter what.

Although galleries and dealers that sell works by emerging artists tout degrees from good art schools, especially new MFAs, as it lends credibility to an artist whose resume is scant for achievements. The fact is that many people finish school in one discipline, but eventually have a career in another. I know people who used to be lawyers and doctors who switched careers to work in entertainment, open restaurants or other businesses, etc. Most people with MFAs in fine art are not full time artists, although many may be associated with art as teachers, designers, gallery owners, etc. A mountain of educational debt does not insure an artist, or anyone will continue down the career path they were trained for.

True, a truly determined artist will find a way to obtain artistic education, however this may not be an MFA.

The determined artists seem to have a driving need to communicate. Visually they have something that they are bent on communicating, it is their preferred “idea” to communicate, and frankly, if they were not creative artists we would think of them as obsessive. So without meaning it as a clinical diagnosis let’s look at the “obsessions” of some artists: van Gogh – Showing emotion through painting; Monet – showing the ever changing aspects of light through painting; Warhol- the de humanizing mechanical nature of our popular culture; Cindy Sherman – identity through roles; and the list could go on and on. It’s not about exploring or expressing one’ self, these determined artists have something that again and in many ways they are determined to communicate.

If you are familiar with the work of any of the great artists, especially Modern and Contemporary artists who could choose their subjects and paths, there is a demarcation point somewhere in their career when suddenly the artist becomes inspired with what becomes their “idea” and their style somewhat changes and then there is just no stopping them. Sometimes this artistic Aha! change involves a change on locale, as it did for Georgia O’Keeffe and Gauguin. Sometimes an artist develops a theoretical idea as Picasso and Braque did with cubism and Seurat with Pointillism.

The almost obsessive determination to communicate an idea seems to result in a unique style. Monet and Renoir, both Impressionists would often paint en plein air together yet their canvases are easily distinguished. Their messages, although enjoying the Impressionist understandings are different. Their styles are unique due to their unique visions.

The new collector who has been researching by attending the top notch galleries and fairs and museums, reading the art magazines and newspapers will be acquainted with the work of the contemporary and living artists whose works are in the biennials and special museum shows. In other words, the work of these artists is established.

Look for the up and coming artist whose work can be understood as a next step from the newest but established art. What is the next step to Pop, Minimalism, Conceptualism, or Neo-Expressionism? What is the next step from Chuck Close, Damian Hirst, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons or Lawrence Weiner? When you see the work of an emerging artist ask yourself, how is this a next step?

There is a delightful book, a kind of journal really by Michael Corbin entitled The Art Of Everyday Joe: A Collector’s Journal. It is a rather large paperback that is perfect summer reading with chapters that are short, lively and personal, a bit like reading someone’s diary. Corbin interweaves good information for the new collector with champagne taste but a beer budget into his entries.

Michael Corbin exclusively collects emerging artists, at least by my definition. I define an emerging artist as one who is not yet in the collections of major museums, or been in the Whitney Biennial, or whose prices for even a large piece, 6 foot by at least 4 feet are well under $100, 000. Personally, after reaching any of those milestones, one has emerged!

Corbin is much more of a collector than investor as he buys what he appreciates, without looking at the purchase as an investment and collects eclectically the works of many artists in many styles. There is one chapter where he is describing his problem of finding space, even storage space for the newest works that have just been delivered. As an artist, with an ever growing “collection” of completed paintings and prints, plus blank canvases and other materials, I laughed with appreciation.

To Recap:

  • 1. Do your homework and research
  • 2.. Find passionate and determined artists with unique vision whose work takes the next step in the progression of art.
  • 3. Do not buy anything unless you personally like or appreciate it.
  • 4. With a nod to Michael K. Corbin, enjoy the adventure of collecting                                                                                                        *  *  *

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at

Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting-edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science-based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true? See for yourself.

Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish.

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