Sunday, November 26, 2006

Buying art photography: love or money

Art print from my graphic kitchen series

Why do people buy photographic art prints? I think there are several different reasons and different types of buyers. The premise is that people buy pictures because they like them and if they fall in love with the image they are prepared to pay a lot more for a print than some artists may imagine their work is worth.

I realised that the concept of perceived value underpins the whole issue of what people are prepared to pay for a fine art print. In the first instance we have the photographer's perception of the value of his/her work. And then we have the buyer's perception.

Lets deal with the buyers perception of value for money. Here we need to look at the different types of buyers.

  1. Serious collectors (a rare breed): usually collectors will specialise in images defined by a certain time period in history, the work of a photographer or group of photographers, a genre or perhaps related to a specific geographical area
  2. The emotive buyer: a person that sees an image and falls in love with it because they instantly have an emotional connection. The image may relate to a specific memory they have, someone they know or idealise
  3. The investor (also a type of collector): usually a buyer who will specialise in work that they like and have a connection too but with an eye on the value of the artist in the long term. They acquire a photographer's work because of its 'brand value' ie the name of the photographer may play a greater role in choice than actually loving the image
  4. The decorator: these people buy a picture because it matches their living room decor. The image may be cherished but choice is determined by compatability with decor (colour and style), the frame and size of the picture
  5. The impulse buyer: a tourist or someone casually afforded the opportunity to buy a print who makes the purchase on the spur of the moment because they like the image and happen to have the money to spend at that moment
I've probably missed a category or two. It is 1.30 in the morning. But hopefully the above captures the main types of buyer. I've tried to rank them from those likely to spend the most (1) to those who will spend the least on a picture (5). The investor (3) may pay a lot for an image but will always have an eye on long term value.

In each case the buyer has to like the image and want it. Beyond that, percieved value for money plays a key role in their buying decision.

If you sell art prints you may want to think exactly which type of buyer you're trying to sell to and then consider how to reach them effectively with your marketing.

It goes without saying that building a name for yourself will increase the value of your prints. If you specialise in a certain subject you may be able to get more for your work by identifying and selling to collectors. I suppose the rarest buyers of all are the people that see an image of yours and fall in love with it. They must have it and are prepared to pay (almost) whatever it takes.

Please feel free to comment or email your thoughts to me. I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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