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  • Writer's pictureRoeh Art

Original Art: Price and Value

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

Warren Buffet

The real thing

I've never forgotten the first time I heard a live orchestra play. I can't remember which it was, probably some fairly unknown local orchestra playing afternoon concerts for schools, but it was magical. My parents had a decent stereo and a collection of orchestral LPs, but this had totally failed to prepare me for the sound of a real orchestra!

What's the difference?

The difference between an original piece of art (even by an unknown artist) and prints, or art seen on a screen, is just as great as between a real orchestra and a recording. No matter how good a reproduction is, the original will contain hues detected by the human eye, but missed by the camera. Think about the number of times you've seen a spectacular sunset, but found your camera cannot quite capture it - even after you've played around with filters and colour curves. Cameras (and scanners) cannot distinguish as many hues as the human eye can so cannot record them for reproduction in print. Then there's the aspect of texture: even relatively smooth paintings have some surface texture which is picked up by the eye as you change viewpoint in front of a piece.

The price

Of course the problem with original art is the price, or is it? Many think that original art is extortionately expensive, because they have seen news stories about famous paintings that have sold for the price of a small town, but very few paintings are that expensive. Generally the really big prices are for pieces by famous artists or pieces which have a really interesting history. Like the orchestra that played for schools, there are unknown artists that give you the experience of seeing (and owning) amazing art originals for a tiny fraction of the amount it costs to buy a piece by a known artist that has an interesting history. Buying a new work means you are the start of its history. Choose well, and even if the artist never becomes famous, your heirs will enjoy owning something you loved and which they see beauty in.

What are you paying for?

What exactly are you paying for when you buy a piece of art? The answer many would give is the skill of the artist, the time creating it, and the cost of the materials (top quality art materials can be very expensive). In reality, you are paying for much more than the time it took to create the finished piece. You are paying for the time it took to come up with the idea, research it, take photos, visit sites, make sketches and all the attempts it took to get it just right. You are also paying for a proportion of the time it takes to run a business (just as when you pay a plumber, the apparently colossal hourly rate has to cover all the time and expenses incurred in buying tools, book-keeping, travelling, advertising etc).

The value

Art is more than a decorative accessory, although a well chosen piece certainly adds something to a room. Looking at art, really looking, can have positive effects on our mental health.

Victoria Emily Jones writing in Art & Theology says: "Art also slows us down. It invites us to gaze. Deeply. In doing so, it fosters the habit of contemplation." Gazing and slowing down are skills we rarely use in modern life. On our screens we flit from image to image as we buzz from one thing to another.

Research in Norway using data from 130,000 people discovered those participating in activities that included viewing art had more satisfaction, better health and lower rates of anxiety and depression. The study found the result in both creators and viewers of art. Men particularly benefited more from passively viewing art rather than creating it.

Prof Zeki (a University of London neurobiologist) conducted brain scans on volunteers gazing at art. The results showed that viewing art that a person finds beautiful triggers a release of brain chemicals associated with love, pleasure and desire.

Now is a good time to buy original art

Going back to the question of price, how much will a piece of original art cost? You can pay more or less as little or as much as you can afford.

Recently, Just A Leaf was raising money for a Norwich food-bank by selling small pieces of original art for £15.

Right now many artists are participating in #artistsupportpledge where all works are under £200. I've recently released 6 pieces to this initiative.

Pieces by local artists are often available in local coffee shops rather than galleries. In fact, if you want to put the cost of art into coffee shop terms, a piece of art, with all its intangible wonder and practical benefits could easily be within reach for less than a few weeks' worth of lattes!

Details of these pieces can be found here


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