Whether you’re a new home-owner embarking on a redecorating project, or just looking to freshen up a tired space, one of the best ways to establish the personality of a room is by decorating the walls with art. Most furniture stores sell wall decorations, and it may be easy to pick up a few character pieces from large retailers like Ikea, HomeGoods, Target, Marshalls, and even Lowes. But what are you really getting at these stores?
In this article, we’ll go over the differences between mass-produced art and original art and try to figure out why you should buy original art?
What is “Original Art”?
Original art, or original fine art, isn’t “original” just because it’s creative—it’s original because it’s one-of-a-kind. Its opposite is a reproduction: a print or even a poster, manufactured in larger quantities by a machine. Original art is typically far more expensive than reproductions.
In the middle ground between original art and reproductions is the ‘limited edition’ print. Many photographers or graphic artists will only print a limited quantity of their artwork, anywhere from 1-200 copies. The smaller the edition size, the more valuable the artwork will typically be.
Why is Original Fine Art More Expensive Than Mass-Produced Art?
There are three main reasons why original fine art is more expensive than mass-produced reproductions.
Its one-of-a-kind nature makes original fine art a ‘rarity.’ Just like you, there are no other versions of this artwork out there, making it very special and valuable. For the right to have the only ‘living’ version of an artwork, you have to pay more. However, if thousands of people own the same artwork, it is no longer unique. This is why the mass-produced versions are far less expensive. Art buyers would not be willing to spend as much money for a ‘common’ item.
Ease of production
When you mass-produce an artwork, you can set up a large printer to manufacture several copies at once. The mechanical nature of this allows countless reproductions to be created at a time. However, original artwork takes a lot more time. The artist may spend hours, days, months, and sometimes, years, to produce the final product. Because of how difficult and time-consuming that artwork was to create, the artist needs to charge more money, in order to earn a liveable wage.
In order to be easily produced in large quantities, the quality of prints and reproductions suffer. There are no affordable technologies that can layer oil paints in a beautifully textured, delicate way upon the canvas. For this reason, prints and other reproductions will be made using less expensive materials, creating a much ‘flatter’ look than original fine art. Original fine art is hand-crafted by an artist, ensuring a finer, more carefully perfected quality.
When To Buy Original Art?
The average person is not a multi-millionaire art collector. For many, the act of purchasing art is very informal, often an impulsive buy at a furniture store, flea market, or craft fair. However, when you’re looking to decorate a space, you can make the right purchase by knowing ahead of time what you are looking for, how much you want to spend, and where the artwork will go.
A secret about buying art that many don’t know is that you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford original, high-quality artwork. Many galleries, even in New York City, offer some artwork for more affordable prices. You can also find ‘discount’ treasures at art fairs, craft fairs, outdoor markets, and by visiting artists’ studios. Though it may be more expensive and a more time-consuming process to find the right original artwork, there are many benefits when compared to mass-produced wall art.
Benefits of Buying Original Art
And what’s the point of buying artwork for your living space if it doesn’t look great? Original artwork is hand-produced, and every color is specifically chosen and hand-applied. Mass-produced reproductions use commercial inks instead of oil or acrylic paints, and they are printed by machines. Sometimes, your mass-produced artwork will look pixelated or digitally rendered when you look closely at it. Originals never have that risk, and even the most amateur art lover can tell the difference between an original artwork and a store-bought décor item.
A one-of-a-kind artwork will make your space your own. How often have you noticed the same Ikea artwork in several friends’ living rooms? Even if the artwork isn’t by a well-known artist, the originality of the piece evokes more of a sense of wealth and personality into your living space.
Original artworks have depth – literally. Whether gallery wrapped around stretcher bars or framed for protection, an original artwork will actually pop off the walls. Simply put, this depth will always fill a room more powerfully than a flat poster against a wall.
There’s not much conversation value in “Oh, I bought this from [any major retailer]. However, when you buy original art, it’s often an adventure. Many times you may meet the artist in person, hear their story behind the artwork, and understand the feeling behind it. Or you might have seen it in an art gallery on a vacation. Because the process of buying original artwork is so different from buying mass-produced consumer artwork, you can usually expect to have a great story to tell at the end of it. Not only can these stories impress your guests, but they’ll also help forge deeper personal connections between you and the artwork you buy.
The Emotional Element
The higher quality looks, the originality, the depth, and the story behind the original artwork all add up to help create a strong emotional connection to the original artwork you end up buying. The sheer fact that original artwork can often cost more money means that you wouldn’t end up buying it unless you already felt a connection and attraction to this artwork. However, if you buy original art, you can ensure that your collection is made up of only the worthiest of pieces, and not impulse buys that cost little but waste your wall space with cheap designs that don’t truly ‘speak’ to you.
The great thing about buying artwork is that it can often appreciate in value. Unlike furniture or Pottery Barn statement pieces, artwork typically does not lose its value for having been pre-owned. Instead, if you invest smart, your artwork may be worth more after years hanging in your living room than it was worth when you first bought it.
So when is it beneficial to buy art reproductions?
- When you’re decorating on a budget – one or two original artworks can add a lot of character to a room, but you might have a lot of empty wall space you need to fill. For these areas, a tasteful poster or print could do wonders.
- If there is a famous piece of art that inspires you – A poster reproduction of a Gustav Klimt painting may inspire you whenever you view it, and this is a valuable trait for a piece of artwork to have.
- For temporary spaces, like cubicles or dorm rooms – Sometimes, the effort of finding the right piece and hanging it can be too much, especially if you don’t plan on spending much time in that space. Posters and decorative art are great for these settings.
- For any messy area that would be too hazardous to place original works – Original artwork can be fragile. If there is a room in your home that experiences very high humidity, or has dirtier air (dust accumulation or tobacco smoke), you can decorate these areas with less expensive, printed artwork.
- For children’s bedrooms – Children are constantly growing up and changing their preferences. A less-expensive print, poster, or decorative piece can add character to their room without breaking the bank every time your child decides to ‘remake’ themselves.
Where to Buy Original Art ?
If you don’t know where to look, original art may seem hard to come by. Fortunately, original art is more available than you might think.
Next time you’re looking for artwork, you can buy original art at:
- Art Galleries
- Art Fairs
- Craft Fairs
- Open Studios
- …You can even find original art for sale online!
Keep an eye out in your local paper for art shows and events. When you go on vacations, be sure to check out the art scenes in your destination to get a taste of foreign flair.
We love to hear your stories. Tell us about your most treasured work of art and how you acquired it!