Investment in classic cars and Fine Art drops as photography rises

Investment in the arts is always a tricky thing.  Artists and styles come and go out of fashion.  What is soaring today in value can drop like a stone tomorrow.  There is no rhyme or reason to it apart from the fickle nature of the buying public.

Blue chip pictures like a Picasso or Rembrandt will always hold their value and these works seem to have no limit.  However, we are talking about major artists and works of art in the high millions and that excludes most but the very rich.

Investment in Fine Art declining

The recession has played a major part in investment in the arts declining over the last few years.  This has been particularly noticeable in the middle market where investors have felt the “squeeze” on their income.

Fine Art has fallen out of favour as an investment by the very rich and prices are down over 6% from last year.  Modern Art has faired no better with modern and impressionist art selling for 12% less than at its peak in in 2007.  Old masters and 19th century are even worse with prices down a staggering 40% at auction to where they were before the financial crisis.

Classic car investment ~ Aston Martin DB5
Classic car investment ~ Aston Martin DB5
classic car investment ~ Shelby Cobra 289
classic car investment ~ Shelby Cobra 289

In other markets, investors have moved away from classic cars which for years have seen extremely strong growth.  In 2016, prices have tumbled.  The same goes for antique rugs and carpets which in 2016 hit a 11 year low.

Investment in musical instruments and photography rising

Interestingly, items that have increased in value during 2016 are rare musical instruments which have seen their value rise by over 16% compared to 2015. The highest percentage however, has been photography which has become probably the fastest growing and popular investment during 2016.

This is probably not surprising when you consider the price starting point is much lower than Fine Art.  In a period where investors are looking for value, photography is seen as an undervalued sector and hence the sharp rise.

A time for investing

This is a good time to be investing in Fine Art.  The market is depressed and markets are lower than they have been for some considerable time.  There are many sectors of the Fine Art market that are now undervalued.  There is no doubt that when the market picks up, these sectors will grow rapidly as investors realise the potential in these markets.

Investing in Art should be looked upon as a medium to long term investment.  If you are a person looking for instant rewards, I would suggest this market is not for you.  However, for those that take a longer term view, the rewards can be quite staggering.  What can be more rewarding than enjoying a piece of art in your home, knowing that it is increasing in value.  It certainly has this advantage ove the Stock or Forex market!


Studio 18 Art Gallery – the best of service whether online or offline

Have you ever been in an Art Gallery and given the once over by snooty staff that leaves you feeling that you shouldn’t be their?  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.  Some Art Galleries are far from welcoming and it is no wonder that some are struggling financially.

Art should be for all.  Galleries should embrace everyone who wants to visit.  It is only by doing this and answering questions that will encourage more people to buy art.

There are many people who would like to start buying art but don’t know where to begin.  They need help.  Art Galleries that have an off-hand approach are not helping in assisting these people.

Elizabeth Castle
David Taylor – Elizabeth Castle

Many people are turning to the internet to buy to the detriment of many Galleries.  They can look at pieces of Art from their own homes.  They can ask questions by email without face-to-face contact with staff.  They don’t feel threatened or intimidated by the internet, and as long as it is a reputable company, they are comfortable ordering online.

Studio 18 Art Gallery

I have a “bricks and mortar” Gallery and an online presence and both thankfully are successful.  We try very hard to make our “bricks and mortar,” Gallery Studio 18 friendly and inviting.  To put people at ease when they enter, we have background music playing.  This helps to break the ice and makes them feel they don’t have to whisper.  We also make a point of greeting people with “good morning” or “good afternoon” but don’t immediately pounce on them to make them feel uncomfortable.  Rather we allow them to browse and only step in to offer help if we feel they need it.

Iain Faulkner
Iain Faulkner – contemplating return

This approach has stood us in good stead over the years.  The Art Gallery is now in its 41st year since inception.  Making people feel welcome is at the heart of what we do and many of our customers have become friends.

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Tips to keep your artwork in the best possible condition

When spending a sum of money on a piece of art, you want to keep it in the best possible condition – right? After buying a painting or a really nice print, what can be better than admiring it each day and knowing that it can be increasing in value.  However, to ensure it keeps its value and looks at its best, you need to look after it.  Here are a few tips to ensure your artwork remains in pristine condition.

Check fixings

I have people every single month bringing in pictures to my Gallery that have fallen off the wall.  Sometimes it is just the frame that is damaged and it can be repaired.  Other times it has smashed into a piece of furniture damaging that and your picture.  Sometimes if it is glazed,  the glass has broken and damaged the print/original.  If that picture is valuable, it becomes an expensive accident and one that is preventable.

Always check the fixings and the cord/wire on the back of the picture at least once a year.  Cord and wire both fray over time.  If you see any evidence of this, replace straight away.

picture hanging
picture hanging

When you hang a picture, use two picture hangers instead of one.  Space them 2 to 3″ apart.  This is useful for two reasons.  Firstly, if one hanger was to fail, the picture would still be held by the second one.  Secondly, if you use two hooks, the picture will remain level.  Nothing looks worse than pictures on the wall out of alignment and level.  With one hook, the picture is more prone to be knocked out of alignment than using two hooks.

If your picture is particularly heavy, do not use “knock in hooks” but heavy duty screw in hooks.

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Limited Edition Prints ~ what every buyer needs to know

Not everyone can afford an original from their favourite artist.  However, many artists these days also produce limited edition prints which are more affordable.  This post is to give you an insight into limited edition prints and what to look for.

What is a limited edition print?

The definition of a limited edition print is a print limited in number.  The edition size, the artists name and the number of the print are usually signed at the bottom of the print in pencil.

The key thing to look for is the number of prints issued.  The lower the number the better and the more likely they are to have some value.  It is generally accepted that limited edition prints should have editions of not more than 250.  You will often see limited edition prints with over 1000 prints issued.  Generally, this is not a good thing.  There are many prints produced that do not sell 1,000 copies without being limited edition.  Some artists turn their prints into limited edition because generally you can ask more for this kind of print.

Anthony Frost~future hit
Anthony Frost limited edition silkscreen ~ “Future Hit”

There are rules in producing limited edition prints.  One of them is that the artist is permitted to produce a further 10% on top of the edition.  These are called Artists Proofs and you might have seen A/P on an edition.  In the early days, the 10% Artists Proofs were for the artist to sell privately.  Generally this is not the case these days.  They are normally sold by the Galleries or publisher extra to the edition.

Some people are under the impression that Artists Proofs are more collectable and hence more valuable than the numbered edition.  This is not so either and it makes no difference to value whether part of the edition or Artists Proof.

Types of limited edition prints

Up until a few years ago, most prints produced were by the Offset lithograph method where the entire edition had to be printed in one go.  Today, many artists are using the gicleé method.  This allows an artist to have printed only the amount of images that he wants at the beginning.  As prints sell, further copies can be printed as and when required.

Gicleé prints are produced on a wide ink jet printer with many different inks.  The colour reproduction can be as good as the original.  The original is usually scanned or photographed and the image kept digitally to be re-used when required.  Gicleé prints are now a recognised and acceptable form of printing.  The inks used are colourfast and not prone to fading and the quality of gicleé printing is generally excellent and being used by more and more by artists.

Etchings & Lithographs
Albert Irvin - Kepler l
Albert Irvin limited edition silkscreen ~ Kepler l

Etchings and lithographs are normally produced as limited edition.  An etching is done on a metal plate, usually brass, copper or steel.  A wax ground is put on the plate which is resistant to acid and the picture “etched” into the wax.  An acid is then poured onto the plate and the acid bites into the unprotected parts of the plate.  Once the wax ground is removed, the plate is inked and the image usually pressed under pressure onto dampened paper.  Because the plate is put under pressure, usually a maximum of 120-150 copies can be produced before the lines in the etching plate deteriorate.  With etchings, the lower the number  the better as the lines will be nice and crisp.

Lithographs are similar to etchings but are produced using stone (usually limestone). The image is drawn onto a ground of wax or similar and acid used to bite into the unprotected parts to form an image.  Not so much pressure is needed to produce a good lithographic print so it is possible to produce a few more images from the stone than an etching.

To tell the difference between an etching and a lithograph, an etching leaves a plate mark on the paper and a lithograph does not.

There are other forms of printing like silkscreen, woodblock linocuts etc.  At some point, I will produce a post on all printing forms.

Dirty Hans-The 80's
Dirty Hans – limited edition print “The 80’s”
Why Limited Edition Prints?

Limited Edition prints gives you access to some of the most sought after artists at a fraction of the cost of an original.  For instance, you can pick up a print by Sir Peter Blake for a few hundred pounds while an original would cost many thousands.  That applies also to artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, David Hockney, Albert Irvin and the like.  You will find most artists have produced limited edition prints and there is a strong market for them.

Dependant on the artist and the subject of the print, when the edition is sold out, there is often such a demand on the secondary market, values rocket.

What could be more satisfying than owning a limited edition print by an artist you love, admiring it each day but also knowing that the value is going up and up.

Studio Eighteen




Art in public spaces ~ do we have a say in what is installed or not?

Although there are many people who visit Art Galleries, Museums and attend art exhibitions there are probably more who never step into one of these establishments.  Your town, your street, the town square is likely to have some form of art in public spaces however.

Who is art in public spaces for?

The simple answer is that it is for you and me.  The idea for public art is that it commemorates an event or subject.  It is installed to brighten up the landscape, inspire us, make us smile, make us think or admire the craftsmanship of the work.

It therefore begs the question that if it is “public art” as members of the public, should we have a say in what is installed?

In some case we do and for some art in public spaces a competition will be organised.  As members of the public, we will have a say in what is chosen.  Most of the time, the art is chosen by a small group of people who make the decision on our behalf.

Antony Gormley ~ Angel of the North
Antony Gormley ~ Angel of the North

A famous artist will sometimes be commissioned to create and install a piece.  It can also be on a large scale dominating the landscape like Antony Gormley’s “Angel of the North.”  It can also be a conversation piece like “Crosby Beach” also by Antony Gormley.

Installations are normally permanent and are meant to be in place for a long, long time.  There is a move however, to install temporary installations which may be in place for just a few months or a year.  Whatever the timescale, art in public spaces should fit in with the landscape, be of a suitable scale and a conversation piece.

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Albert Irvin – His pictures expressed his joy of life and art

Albert Irvin is best known for his large abstract paintings full of colour.

Born in Finsbury Park, North London in 1922  to a shopkeeper, Irvin had a normal childhood.  At school he developed an interest in art and his other passion, football.  He was an avid supporter of Arsenal FC throughout his life.

When war was declared with Germany in 1939, the young Albert Irvin was evacuated to Northamptonshire,  a safer place for a young boy than London.  It was here that he studied art at the Northampton School of Art between 1940 and 1941.  Conscription interrupted his time at art school.  He joined the Royal Air Force and trained in Canada as a navigator.  Flying bombing missions over Germany with 236 Squadron from 1944 until the end of the war.

Albert Irvin-Festival
Albert Irvin – Festival

When hostilities had ceased and he was demobbed, he continued his art studies back in London at the Goldsmiths College.

Albert Irving was never an overnight success

Albert Irvin certainly didn’t become an overnight success.  Like most artists he had to turn his hand to other things to bring in some income.  By this time he was married and his wife supported him by doing graphic design work.  Irvin took on screenprinting Laura Ashley’s first fabric designs and became a tutor at  the Hornsey College of Art.

As an abstract painter, it was difficult to break through and become known.  It wasn’t until he was 38 years of age that he had his first solo show and it wasn’t until he was in his 60’s that he found a following and people began to recognise and collect his work.  He joked that he was “the oldest up and coming young artist in Britain”

When people began collecting his work, his career took off.  In the 1970’s he moved from painting in oils to the more vibrant acrylics.  In the 1980’s Irvin moved into screenprinting in association with Advanced Graphics in London.  This association proved so rewarding that he won an Arts Council award in 1975 and  the Gulbenkian award for printmaking in 1983.

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