How to Buy Art: You Have Good Taste!

You see a work of art. You absolutely love it. You want to buy it. But don’t. Has this happened to you? Me too. And, I think there’re several reasons why. 1) How do I know if the work is actually worth the price the artist is asking? 2) I’m confused about the artists’ pricing structure. What makes one piece more expensive than another? 3) I can’t afford it. 4) I’m afraid I’ll have buyers remorse after the purchase. 5) I’m not sure if it’s “good” art. The first four concerns I’ll discuss in other blog posts. Let’s start with number 5.

I remember years ago traveling to a remote area in North Carolina to visit a self-taught, visionary artist named James Harold Jennings. Not only did I want to meet him and see his work but I went with the intent to buy a piece. And, I did. I paid a $100 for one of his wooden crowns (below), which was expendable income I didn’t really have. The friend I went with (an artist herself) scoffed at this, which I took to mean that my purchase was a bad decision I would regret. And, therein lies the problem many people experience with buying art. They don’t know if they can trust they’re own judgement as to what is “good” art.

"Crown," James Harold Jennings, wood and paint.

My belief is that there’s actually no right or wrong answer to the question of what is “good” art. What’s good is what you like, what speaks to you, what you feel you want to look at and enjoy for awhile. If it gives you pleasure, hope, contentment, then it’s good.

Anne Leeds
artist, art educator

By the way, I have never regretted buying that crown!