Why buy art? The simple answer for some may be “because it matches my couch.” While consumers might purchase art because they want to coordinate their homes or offices, the motivations for bringing original art into one’s physical space can be deeper, more complex than simply enhancing one’s décor.
Artists give the world something it didn’t know it was missing.” Dan Pink, May 2011
According to research by Unity Marketing, demand for art and other decorative wall items is growing. Since 2010, the share of American households that purchased any art, wall decor or picture frames rose from 47 percent to 54 percent in 2012. Moreover, purchasers are trading up from mass-produced decoration to one-of-a-kind original art.
There are a myriad reasons for art purchases. One of the primary is emotion. Unity Marketing observed that over 70% of American consumers surveyed agreed with the statement, “When choosing art for my home, the way the piece makes me feel is the most important.” This aligns with Mercartto.com's own research where 62% of responses said art was purchased “because they fell in love with it.” A previous post in this blog supported the relationship between art and endorphins, noting that works of art can give as much joy as being head over heels in love.
Art makes people happier to be where they are. It enhances one’s home/work environment and improves quality of life. It can make a small room seem bigger, and a larger room cosier. For many, art serves as a conduit for self-expression and is a reflection of their individuality and personal taste. For others, art offers an escape: a chance for contemplation, a moment relived, a journey to another culture, another way of seeing and thinking. Art can inspire new ideas, perspectives and goals for both adults and children. Often people buy art to be part of a community. As noted by author Sarah Thornton,
Just as churches and other ritualistic meeting places serve a social function, so art events generate a sense of community around shared interests... People really talk about the art they see. Reading takes a long time and is solitary, whereas art fosters quick-forming imagined communities.”
Moreover, art has been known to improve society (e.g. artists revitalizing blighted neighbourhoods), not to mention that it is environmentally friendly, energy efficient, easy to maintain and enduring. Finally, people buy art for status and investment reasons. According to Alan Bamberger, critic art appraiser and author of The Art of Buying Art, one of the main reasons buy art is some purchasers believe, rightly or wrongly, that it might one day be worth more than they pay for it. They may buy because they like, but in the backs of their minds they hope and pray that the future bodes big bucks for their new acquisitions. But in the majority of cases, buyers never see profits over costs.