Collect art that speaks to you. It is a cliche, but I think it is a sound foundation for building any kind of collection, whether it’s a collection of art, books, antiques, or anything really. You should buy a piece of art that will bring you joy or make you think each time you look at it. If you believe in the concept of surrounding yourself with people who make you happy, believe in the same thing with art.
I am always looking for new and up-and-coming artists. I love finding Kickstarter projects that offer original art as rewards. I look for artists whose works speaks to me at regional and local arts and crafts fairs. If you are considering collecting art for a profit, be prepared to be disappointed. Although auction prices seem to reach ever-increasing heights when a Picasso or van Gogh is placed on the block, most of us are part of the 99% and we usually don’t have the kind of savant-like prescience to predict the “next big thing” in the art world.
The Problems of Collecting
Expensive Stuff – If you’ve ever cruised eBay for original comic art or illustration art, you have probably noticed that people ask some crazy-ass prices for black ink and wite-out on bristol board. If I had several grand hanging around my house, I might want to buy a page from a Jack Kirby comic sure, but I have seen sellers asking hundreds of dollars for art whose only redeeming quality (in my mind) is that it was published in a comic book, which is not not much of a draw for me (not surprisingly you will see many offerings like this with zero bids). I would rather own an unpublished piece of art that speaks to my sensibilities as an artist and a human than a drawing that happens to be one of thousands like it that get published by a comics publisher.
Whose Idea is This? – Another aspect of collecting art that confuses me, especially art produced by comics creators, is the idea of a fan paying an artist to draw an idea from the mind of the fan. I enjoy going to cons and shows and fairs big and small just as much as the next nerd, but I have to tell you that I have never understood the concept of con commissions. I am drawn to illustrators and artists who have vivid imaginations, and I am not sure why I would pay an artist I admire to draw something I tell him or her to draw. Do I like the artist and his/her style or do I like the Batman and donkeys, or do I like the idea in my head of Batman riding a donkey? I suppose I can understand if it is a way for fans of an artist to take on the role of Writer, and thus, Co-Creator or Collaborator with the artist, and perhaps my confusion is due, in part, to the fact that I myself write and illustrate my own ideas. Maybe if I were not an artist myself, I would be very keen to see my ideas come to life with the skill of a favorite illustrator. In any case, my confusion about commissions is only equaled by my respect for the men and women in Artists Alleys all over the country who sit for hours and engage in this fascinating practice.
Lack of Access – This ties directly into my point about expense as well. Some of my favorite artists are dead and their art commands steep prices that I cannot afford. Many times I have to settle for nicely printed posters or other reproductions of their art. Also, popular comics artist and illustrators are POPULAR and have limited time and can only take on so many commissions at a con. And to be honest, not all comics artists choose to sell their art. There are plenty of artists who I admire and would love to own some of their work, and they simply just do no make it available. Which brings me to the focus of this posting (sorry about the rambling introductory remarks). I think it’s pretty special when a successful comics creator like David Petersen makes original pieces of art available at affordable prices.
The Joys of Collecting
Since I was kid who grew up on the Chronicles of Narnia, who watched The Gummi Bears, and who read Brian Jacques Redwall series, it should be no surprise that I would be attracted to the art of David Petersen. I am by no means a completeist (I do not own every Mouse Guard issue ever printed), but I own Mouse Guard books, and have bought them to give away as gifts to people who share my literary and artistic upbringing.
The first piece of art by David Petersen I collected was simply a signed book plate. Is it an original piece of art? No, it is printed, and there several hundred others just like it, but it’s Petersen’s creation, and he signed it, and I like it. The 2012 Mouse Guard bookplate was already sold out on Petersen’s Big Cartel website ( http://mouseguard.bigcartel.com/ ), so I had to turn to eBay.
If you follow me on Twitter ( @inkpuddle ), you know that I tweet links to Petersen’s Tuesday blog posts ( http://davidpetersen.blogspot.com/ ). If you haven’t checked out his blog yet, I encourage you to do so. Lots of art process, lot’s of interesting stuff for writers and artists. And, of course, he will re-cap his offerings on Watercolor Wednesdays.
My first successful grab on Watercolor Wednesday was this Poor Crow.
I have to admit that there is an aspect of anticipation and competitiveness when it comes to buying a piece of art on Watercolor Wednesday. You have to be lightning quick, because the pieces get bought up almost instantly. But when I managed to get this piece in my e-basket, I loved it. I had recently done a series of drawings of monsters based on the Dust Bowl / Migrant Worker photography of Dorothea Lange, and this “Poor Crow” fit right in!
My second score was of this Satyr. I love the background of musical notes, the color palette, the positioning of the hands, and since I have always been a fan of mythology (even now as I read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books), I was grateful to add this to my collection.
My third was of this mummy.
I still watch Egyptology and mummy related documentaries when I can. And a couple years back I did an illustrated promotion for a mummy-themed event at a library. I can’t stress enough that the works of art I collect are ones that strike a chord with my own interests.
And finally a signed, printed piece of art you can get for $5 on Petersen’s e-store website: The 2013 Mouse Guard Book Plate.
I don’t want to give the impression that I am trying to dictate how people should collect art or think about collecting art. Collect what you want! As long as it makes you happy. In fact, if you collect art from a particular artist or illustrator, I’d love to hear about it. What draws you to the art or artist, how and how often do you collect? Let me know!
And now the fun part. Since I have discussed art by David Petersen, why not giveaway something by him? Want to win a 2012 Mouse Guard book plate signed by David Petersen? Here’s how:
1) Leave a comment on this post below. Maybe share what kind of art you collect, name an artist whose work you dream of owning, or pretty much say anything (but no profanities, please).
2) OR follow me on Twitter ( @inkpuddle ) and give a shout-out to a favorite artist and use the hashtag #whyIcollectart
3) OR, over the next couple of days, I will be tweeting some art collecting tweets and asking followers to re-tweet for a chance to win.