Why do consumers purchase art?

Just found this Art Business News webcast of a keynote address by Stephen McKenzie at DECORExpo Atlanta. It’s all about consumer habits and why people purchase luxury goods such as art. Every artist should listen to this.

(Go down the page and find "In the News" and then "DECORExpo Atlanta Keynote Address.)

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5 comments to Why do consumers purchase art?

  • I listened to McKenzie’s webcast and agree that we need to to a better job of convincing the consumer that what we have to offer them is exactly what they need and make purchasing it an experience that will leave a lasting impression. As you have pointed out MANY times Alyson, we don’t do a good enough job of marketing. We wait to be ‘discovered’ or some equally ineffective method of getting our work in front of the consumer. I have found that if I am excited about my work, I can more easily excite others about it as well.It is time the art community (and I include ALL types of art) make our products as desirable and necessary to the consumer as the latest electronic gimmick. One more positive for artists is that art generally increases in value rather than becoming one more item in the landfill when the next craze hits.

  • Thanks for the link, Alyson, these ideas are fascinating. Although aimed at framing and art retailing, the message has a meaning for artists that is going to be tricky to digest. Commissions are certainly one way for the artist to respond to a consumer’s unique needs and desires. Artists who initiate their work will need to reconsider their approach to marketing and presenting, and the approach of their galleries as well. His thoughts on presentation and the total experience of a purchase were especially intriguing, areas of marketing that could use seminars and other prompting for us tunnel-visioned artists.

  • Museums have been thinking this way for quite some time. They’ve been chastised by some for providing “edutainment,” rather than sticking to their missions as “educational institutions.” Truth is, we’re all competing for people’s leisure time. Artists aren’t just looking for buyers (or you shouldn’t be). You should be helping to inform and excite an entire generation of art collectors. It’s not just in the art, it’s in the way it’s displayed, the opening, the invitations, the way you keep in touch with your buyers, your Web site, etc.

  • Thanks, a million times, for the link. FUN. That’s what the customer is looking for. Steve is absolutely right. Fun. He mentioned Jane Seymour saying the collector is as much an artist as the person who created the work. So did T.S. Elliot, when he referred to the ‘maker/reader’ of his poetry. We — as artists in business — must keep the customer not only in mind, but in a state of active enjoyment. BTW, the only thing I disagreed with Steve on, is the nomenclature. I *refuse* to call my customers [those who give me their custom] ‘consumers.’ Art is fun and we need to let (recall Salvidor Dali?) the customer have some of the fun. Why does a person buy art? To enjoy it, we say. What is enjoyment? It’s FUN, isn’t it? Maybe a sort of fun a bit more refined than riding a roller coaster, but it’s still the same principle. Let them in on it. I’ve already discovered, as a photographer, that I can let my people have fun choosing the surface upon which the art is printed; smooth, or pebbly, fine art paper, or glossy photographic paper, or hand-laid papyrus, or painter’s canvas. They get a real kick out of making what is usually thought of as an ‘artistic’ decision. Now, I think I need to expand my frame selection. I’ve been limited to three colors in one style of aluminum. I’m gonna add woods and new widths. It seems like work — it is — but, heck, it’s fun to let people squeak in delight, isn’t it?

  • Walter, I’m with you! I dislike the term “consumers,” but keep in mind that he was talking to an industry audience. I try to use the word “collectors” always. It’s simultaneously sophisticated AND hopeful.