Budgeting for Art

I smiled at this Tweet from Pope Francis:

May artists spread the beauty of the faith and proclaim the grandeur of God’s creation and His boundless love for all.

The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met to discuss budgeting for collecting art. It’s the first time in the six years we’ve run the group that we covered this topic, it was clearly overdue!

As the child of an artist, I have a somewhat biased opinion on the matter.
As a financial planner and budgeting guru, I feel that it’s my duty to give people permission to have beautiful things in their lives.

The wonderful Karen Eckert lead our discussion. A high school English teacher, she shared that most of her artistic purchases were made at TJ Maxx  (not that we’re knocking TJ Maxx) and simply were selected to match her sofa.

Imagine her anxiety when her date (AJ Fries, a professional artist)
invited her to attend an art opening.
What should she wear?
What should she say?
What should she do?

The date must’ve gone okay because not only did she eventually marry him, the two of them created Collect Art Now,  a way for people to start their own art collection by commissioning their favorite artists on the site to make a small piece for them. Ingenious! Karen’s advice, “Don’t fear art.”

Be it a painting, like one of the lovelies by Heidi Zanelli, (I know one of my readers will especially appreciate this),

a piece of jewelry (perhaps by the amazing jewelry designer Sarah Blackman ),

a poem (such as those written by Page Nolker about serving as a caregiver to her Mother who suffered from dementia)

a photograph (like this flower bud one by Gail Denny or the Gallagher Beach pier by Tom Burns’),

a pillow (like this from Back of the Moon Watercolors,

an illustration (this is by Sydney Hafner who explains, “The splatters on the Luna Moth print represent a population map. The gray represents the historic range of the moth and the yellow represents its range. This allows you to get a sense of what once was and what is its current population. If you were to overlay a map of the United States you could see where more exactly they have vanished from and where they may still be found.”),

a hand painted teapot by MacKenzie Childs,

or any form of art (including music and dance), our participants explained that art:

  • has a narrative, an emotional connection,
  • it serves as an escape; it can take us away from other thoughts or cares and, ironically, at the same time,
  • allows us to be present, in the moment, in this moment.

An investment in something that could help you both ESCAPE and BE FULLY HERE is unique indeed. What could I possibly compare it to? Certainly not an index fund!

How is art priced?
Art is priced using a unique combination of subjectivity and market forces: how much does the artist believe it’s worth and how much will a customer pay? And while some people may bristle at the price of some art work (abstracts in particular), bear in mind that most artists needed training, which someone had to pay for, they may work on a piece for hours, days, weeks, even months and require the necessities of life just like the rest of us. They needn’t starve to be artists.

Karen shared that, once an artist sells a piece at a certain price point (be it $15 or $500,000), s/he prices all other pieces accordingly (aka, not less than) because the artist wants her/his customers to feel that they made a good (read: appreciating) investment.

And yet one of my all-time favorite songs is Tom Paxton’s Talking Pop Art:

What would the world be like without artists?

What would your world be without art?

If there’s one thing I know for sure about effective budgeting is that there has to be money for enjoyment.  If there isn’t, you risk becoming resentful, and resenetful budgeters will not thrive.

One of our group members purchases art regularly, partially to provide financial support to artists. She’s kind of a modern Medici; the art patron next door.

The best way to support artists is to visit their studios first and foremost, festivals and shows second. When you visit their studios you get an opportunity to talk with the artists (remember, “Don’t fear art!” – or artists!) and learn about their inspiration, their methods, their passion. Simply ask them about these aspects of their work.

WNYers may enjoy a  wonderful weekend specifically designed for this called “Routes to Art” organized by the Cattaragus County Arts Council). I bought my very first painting on one of these open studio tours. It’s by Nance Jackson, it’s titled “Skeleton Leaf” and I love it. Between you and me, she should’ve charged me more.

At festivals, while you’re browsing, if you like an artist’s work, tell them. It can get kind of lonely, you know. And if you can reasonably afford to purchase some of their work, do so! If you can’t afford a purchase at that point, take the artist’s card and contact her/him when you can.

If you don’t care for their work, at least smile and thank the artist for being there, hauling their stuff out and sharing it with the public. It takes a lot of guts (and tarp, and patience) to do a show.

One of our regulars in the group explained that she saves up a little money each month in preparation for the Elmwood Festival of the Arts so that she has financial permission to purchase items that bring her joy.
Another has a special account at her credit union titled, “DREAMS.” I bet that makes saving money more enjoyable!

Maybe, instead of setting aside money for specific categories of your life, you may thrive by simply saving as much as you possibly can …and living on the rest. Then, if an opportunity presents itself, when time stands still as you gaze upon a piece of artwork, you can confidently say, “I’ll take it!”

When you start to collect art, you’ll have to be mindful of protecting, storing and even insuring pieces. Karen suggests videotaping your items and getting appraisals.

I hope you enjoyed this visually enhanced post, I certainly enjoyed creating it. If you need more than just a blog post to get your financial peace on, http://www.lauberfinancialplanning.com.

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to www.lauberfinancialplanning.com "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
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4 Responses to Budgeting for Art

  1. Pat H says:

    Great post Amy Jo! I forget to think of items in my home as “art” (I sometimes think of them as “stuff”) but they are! They were created by someone’s skilled hands, whether it’s hanging on a wall or sitting on a mantle or floor.

  2. Interesting read. I must say that money in itself, has no value, it is only a “medium of exchange” or, as some say, a necessary evil. I’m probably pretty good at budgeting my money, but probably place too little priority on my own needs, this sometimes creates an artificial appearance of wealth in the eyes of peers.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Bruce. I appreciate your input!

      In my observation, most everyone has some kind of dysfunction when it comes to money. I believe my mission is to help people identify their dysfunction and intentionally, when they’re ready, choose to heal it. The Holistic Financial Planning process renders wonderful results, but sometimes clients also benefit from the help of a mental health professional.
      Be well and please continue creating beautiful objects, we need them!

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