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So you want to be an art investor?

Ruby Jagrut writes on the nitty gritties of engaging with art that you would like to include in your life


Everyone seeks beauty and truth in their lives. What they are not sure about is art. Because we have multiple layers of relationship with the object and subject of art. Mostly we see it outside us, as a matter of acquisition, flaunting of taste and prosperity. But that is not completely true. Like walls, corners and spaces, art also has long-term relationship with its beholder.

To see it from inside and bring that art inside us can be confusing and complex. One of the reasons for that is we do not talk much about art, colours, shapes, forms and what they do to us, what they evoke in us as sensitive human beings.

If you ask me, every empty wall and every vacant corner should have a piece of art, installation or a sculpture bringing some relief, emotion, inspiration, warmth, evocation and connect to the space and business of our otherwise boringly routine daily lives.

I am writing this column to ease to discomfort of the person standing before a piece of art with this eternal Shakespearean question — to do or not to do? My response would be — Do. Try. Talk. And connect to the elements of beauty and truth within you that the piece is bringing.


Before the actual piece of art, there is this story you are telling yourself through that. And if you find the story compellingly interesting, you must surely think about buying it. If the idea, the shape, colours, form are able to help you talk to yourself, the art has made a good case for itself. If it is able to provoke you into one or more thoughts and actions, all the more reason to seriously considering having it.

In this case, you are not just a buyer. You are living the piece of art. And the piece of art is being useful in adding beauty and truth to you, helping in this process to become your better version of yourself like we experience with good music and poetry or meditation.


What a society does with its walls is a good mirror of knowing those people and communities. Some are blank, some are unkempt, some blandly painted, some unpainted, some smeared with graffiti, and some have paintings on them. In any space of grid and mortar, and sharp angles of 90 degrees, a painting or an installation provides a healing touch, a human feel, imaginations, memories and a unique and special connect to that. Art is that coordinate which punctuates that otherwise brutal space. Like a potted plant brings a forest inside, it has the ability to be the desired mood enhancer by brightening the space, by creating a shadow, by bringing a riot of colours, by balancing the universe with just one little dot.

Some do buy to sell it later. But eventually it has to have the aforementioned values and traits to fit into this immense human hunger to enhance conversation with her inner self.

Here are some questions which I think buyers should ask before getting into art acquisition. But this is secondary after we are able to sort the issues mentioned earlier. Questions like budget, conversation, the place to display, art style, the context and paraphrase, the research, the need to take help from a dealer or collector, the best practices for healthy upkeep of the object, the clarity of seeing the piece as an investment or emancipation, the ways to verify its originality and authenticity. You might need different kind of pieces for say your work or business place than say a public place or even within home, the drawing room might require something different from a study or bedroom or a lobby.


You might feel like a kid in a candy shop there are so many different mediums, styles, and materials to choose from. Like etching, mizoprint, aquatint, lino, woodcut, serigraphs and photomontage are variables of the print medium. Likewise watercolours, oil, acrylic, natural pigments, with so many multiple techniques of applications along with mixed media and paper collages. Sculptures and murals have differs vocabulary all together and so will metal, fibreglass, glass, metal, ceramic, concrete, paper, textiles.

One should list them and find the right fit to take the next step. An intelligent and educated speculation will always be better than a wild guess. And the value is in knowing.

This will not only save you from future regrets but also give you a very good sense and story about the piece as well. What is the point in having a piece of art in your space if you are not able to form some 50 healthy sentences around it? And that should be easy, if the art is able to indeed strike a long and interesting conversation with you. And you will do well to ask these questions to have peace later.

Should you want to dwell seriously into art acquisition trip, training your right brain to see, experience, and engage should start in the early days. If you are new you can start by visiting local art galleries or city museums. These days exploring art online has made it very easy for the art enthusiast. To become available to a piece of art is to open up to participate in the interaction with mind and the visual and also observe how the exchange goes by. To be aware of what kind of art is bring some amount of joy or engagement or arousing curiosity makes you closer to the art connoisseur you wanted to be. The more you see more you will be able to find the kind of art you relate to. The art was always in seeing, but get there one has to buy too much art! It is very important you feel at ease around your aesthetics.

Buy artworks which bring joy to you and you relate to, which bring meanings and can be part of your daily life and of your dear ones. Once you start to identify which art appeals to you, it would be easier to follow the pattern.

Keeping your budget in mind young buyers should start either from artists’ studios or local art galleries or online platforms. The art world can be overwhelming at times and speaking to experts is the best way to navigate your way through your first-time purchase. Getting into an auction for the new buyers can be very intimidating. You can split your budget and have different kinds of art forms. Buy what you love. Trust your heart.


I personally don’t buy or see art as an investment but there is lot of noise created by auction houses when they sell some works in millions. That creates buzz and get attention. If you see yourself a long term art investor, consider looking into young, emerging artists. They are affordable and have a great potential for increasing in value and leading to future gains.

When you buy artworks of big masters for the first time, it’s always useful to know their journey and their work process it helps you understand the work better. Acquire all important documents. You may like to keep all the papers. Keep everything safe — the receipt, invoice, and documentation. Don’t throw anything away, as this is what is used to authenticate and value apiece may be many years later. You must also ask for authentication certificates from the person you are buying. Finally, art can be an investment but it can be a bad one. No one can guarantee you any great returns. Take help from people who know better than you. It can be a friend or art dealer or person whose sensibility you trust. In the case of a house and larger place, a designer can also be of great help.

It is important to know how to take care of your artwork, how to handle them, pack them, display them, etc. Believe me nothing breaks your heart more than damaged artworks. Be sensitive and handle it with a lot of care. It’s not important for you to understand the process of making the artworks.

And take that art more seriously when your head and heart both agree about it.

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