Did you know there are two art markets? Where you buy art from is a big factor in the price you pay. Not only that but what you are paying for.
In the primary art market, you deal with artists or their agents. The fee you pay supports the artist directly.
In the secondary art market, the price has already been established at the first point of sale. You are buying second-hand artwork. Sometimes for considerably more than the original price, determined by the artist’s popularity throughout their career.
The value of a piece can also deteriorate. More so based on quality, which is why there is more demand for conservation framing for arts bought within the secondary art market. One tear, wrinkle, smudge, or fading will depreciate the value of the piece. A quality picture frame preserves the quality of artwork housed inside it.
Examining Your Why for Buying Art
Art means different things to different people. For some, they are an investment. Buy a piece, hold it, follow the artist’s profile, when the rise in demand increases, sell the art for a profit in the secondary art market.
The secondary art market is not only for collectors and art investors. Homeowners with any valuable pieces need to know about it. Think of how many times you have bought a piece of art, changed your décor, took the print down and either sold it on eBay or stuck it in a cupboard.
Any artwork with an artist’s signature either on the front or on the reverse is a signed piece. Those can be authenticated and if you are lucky enough to have a collector’s piece, you could be onto a winner for profits if you do decide to sell. For those pieces, you will want to know how to store art like the galleries do. There’s more to it than the frame.
The Primary Art Market Defined
Art in the primary art market is first-time sales bought from artists directly, or from galleries, art exhibitions, trade shows, and art fairs. Galleries and exhibitions usually work on a commission basis negotiated with the artist directly.
Buying Art to Support an Artist
The simplest way to support independent artists is by buying your art within the primary art market.
Independent artists tend to be on the smaller fairs like market stalls and local exhibitions in libraries or community halls. Larger fairs are often managed by agents for the artist working on a commission basis. The higher the commission the agent charges, the less the artist receives for their work.
The price is not only a contributing factor for the artist to earn a living from their art sales. It also impacts popularity. The more in-demand an artist becomes, the higher selling fees their work can fetch in the secondary art market.
What a piece sells for in the secondary market has little to no impact on the artist’s compensation
Only extremely valuable pieces bought through a professional art agent qualify for Artist's Resale Rights (ARR). Sales under £1,000 are exempt so the artist will receive no royalty payments on the resale of their original work.
Depending on the sales price, and if a professional art agent was used to manage the transaction, artists can receive up to 4% as a royalty payment. There are a lot of exemptions though. Rarely will an independent artist qualify for artist royalty payments. In fact, a report by the Guardian showed that 37% of artists earned below the average UK salary.
That is why the best way for art buyers to support the artists of today is to buy art within the primary art market, dealing directly with the artist, or their agent, which the artist can negotiate rates with to ensure their working arrangements don’t leave them at a disadvantage.
If you are in the market for a new art piece, consider where your money goes… An auction house, investment portfolio, or into the bank account of an artist to support their livelihood and career.