A CONVERSATION WITH BMO & OAP at the AGO
❛ I had the privilege of meeting Brent Joyce, BMO Private Investment Counsels Chief Investment Strategist, who shared his investment insights and perspective at our shared talk at the AGO. Afterwhich, I spoke about art as an investment with Matthew Williams, providing a fresh perspective on how art can enhance and enrich our lives. ❜
— Laura Wood
ART AS AN INVESTMENT
WHAT MAKES ART UNIQUE AS AN ASSET
Art enriches our lives; it preserves memories, shares experiences, questions universal truths. It entertains us and it encourages us to confront uncomfortable biases. It teaches us about ourselves. These things have intrinsic value, well beyond any monetary value.
Art can light up a room, start conversations, tell a story, and of course, it can also be a great investment. However, the reason we have immersed ourselves in the art world to begin with is mostly for the first reasons.
Art as an investment is more tangible than stocks or shares. It is something you can invest in and also enjoy. One of the key reasons to invest in art is because it is considered a stable market. The art market has proven to withstand times of economic uncertainty. It has consistently rebounded to exceed any market declines. It has shown to be very resilient, time and time again.
When you invest in artwork you are also investing in the future - art lives forever! As well, you are investing in the future of the arts by contributing to, and supporting, the art industry. By investing in art you are additionally and very importantly supporting artists, which then helps them to continue their practice, ensuring the work you’ve invested in will grow in value.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ART BEYOND MONEY
MOVING BEYOND THE NUMBERS
As with anything, value is determined by what people are willing to pay and the principles of supply and demand. With art, the market value of a piece generally increases over time and remains fairly steady. It is important for artists and galleries to respect this and to keep a consistent market value when pricing work.
When you are looking at artwork with extremely high pricing, it is likely due to the artist being well renowned and the artwork being in high demand. Also, artwork from artists who are no longer living can be in scarce supply and as that supply is also not being replenished, the value increases dramatically. That's the basics of it, but the art world is pretty complex and it collectively decides that certain types of art are more valuable than others. Current art trends often recognize and put more value on contemporary artists for reasons such as; being innovative, showing talent, being charismatic and being socially well-connected.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE CULTURE OF ART
Immersing yourself in the art world is the first step to investing in art. Do your research and go out and connect with the art community. After a while you will recognize that you are drawn to certain types of art, you will refine your art palette and get to know what you like and how things work.
TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF ART INVESTORS
1. PURELY INVESTMENT BASED
We don’t have much experience with this type of buyer, as we generally work with people who are building art collections and have a love for art. But we would say that if someone is interested in investing in art purely for the financial investment, then it would probably be best that they invest in the secondary art market with some guidance. The secondary art market will likely have a quicker and higher return. The artists in that market are already established and although the initial financial investment may be higher, there’s likely less risk. When investing in emerging artists and the primary art market, one will generally need to hold on to the artwork for a much longer period of time before it increases dramatically in value.
2. CONNECTION FIRST
We would say that this type of investor is much more common in our world and the experiences they have connecting with artists and galleries are more rewarding. They often end up buying art with their heart, but have also become knowledgeable about that art as an investment. If the artworks they invest in are from emerging or mid-career contemporary artists, they may take longer to appreciate in value, however this investor will enjoy the artwork during that time. This path results in more life experiences, emotional connections and much better stories to share. It is definitely a more fulfilling route.
ART EVENTS TO ATTEND
The art fair circuit has started up again and this is a great way to experience the art world! Fairs like Art Basel, in Miami, Switzerland and Hong Kong are incredible to witness. They are usually accompanied by many satellite fairs, like Untitled, Scope, etc., which provide visitors with a huge range of artwork to experience and they also create a great environment to enjoy it all in; it’s one big art party! Major cities worldwide all have their contemporary art fairs; Plural in Montreal (formerly Papier), Frieze art fairs in London, LA, NYC, and Seoul, The Armory Show in NYC, FIAC in Paris, Zona Maco in Mexico City (Latin American art), ARCO Madrid (European, Latin American, Middle Eastern and SE Asian art), China has several, and Art Dubai, in Dubai of course. For those who want to dip their toe in the market, the Affordable Art Fair can be found globally, including in many European cities, and also in China, Australia, NYC, and Singapore. If you're in Toronto, local art fairs like Art Toronto and The Artist Project are great places to engage with art! The latter is a fabulous place to connect directly with the artists as well. We also love going to the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair at Nathan Phillips Square every year, and head straight to the student section, there are always gems to be discovered there. Coincidently, I (Laura Wood) participated in both The Artist Project and the TOAF as an artist. The TOAF is where I was first discovered and where my painting and art consulting career began.
TOP THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN INVESTING IN ART
- Does the art speak to you? It doesn’t have to be all about profit margins and a huge return if you are passionate about building a collection and expanding your art portfolio. If you can picture someone coming up and buying the piece that you have been eyeing before you can and you are devastated, then chances are, it’s the piece for you.
- At what stage is the artist in their career? Look into their gallery representation, exhibition history and CV, to see if they have been consistently producing and exhibiting, in which case they will likely continue to do so and their art will continue to increase in value.
- How will it work within your existing art collection? Where and how will you display it to ensure its longevity? These are important considerations for any new acquisition.
FINDING NEW ARTISTS
As mentioned, a great way to discover new up-and-coming artists is at artist-lead shows like The Artist Project or Toronto Outdoor Art Fair. You are guaranteed to find a few pieces that you really connect with.
Other great places to find new and exciting talent is at the year-end exhibitions of local art schools like OCADU and Etobicoke School of the Arts. OCADU also has several gallery spaces of their own where they showcase student artwork; Onsite Gallery, Ignite Gallery, Graduate Gallery, The Ada Slaight Gallery and Open Space Gallery. There are also a few artist-run gallery spaces in Toronto that might be of interest, like YYZ Artists' Outlet and Mercer Union.
SUCCESSFUL CHARACTERISTICS TO LOOK FOR IN EMERGING ARTISTS
It's not easy to know who will become the next big artist, but to determine whether an artist is likely to have a successful art career ahead of them try looking at their body of work and asking a few questions:
- Are they prolific, do they create a lot of work?
- Does it look as though they live to create? Is their work consistent?
- Do you see similar themes and style throughout their art?
- Do they have any gallery representation or a history of shows - do others see value in their work?
If it's yes then it's likely that they will continue producing and are at the beginning of a successful art career. Invest!
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH ARTISTS
The best way we can think of to get to know the emerging art scene, and discover that new up-and-coming artist whose work you really connect with, is to immerse yourself in that world. Go to art fairs and research the artists you’re drawn to. Connect with your local gallery scene by attending openings and having conversations with artists and gallerists. Ask questions about the meaning behind the work, their process, and find their 'why'.
Following artists on social media is a great way to see what's current and what's happening in the art world. Also, artists love when their work is 'liked' and shared online. This helps them to become more discoverable and to continue producing work. Definitely sign up for their mailing lists, go to their openings, or request a studio tour if you want to see their work in person. Depending on gallery agreements they may have, it's often possible to purchase directly from the artist. If they have gallery representation in your area, they may direct you to purchase through their gallery.
Connecting with an art consultant who already has established relationships with artists can also help to facilitate a special commission or the purchase of existing work.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR ART
- Shows / art fairs / galleries / art auctions - it really depends on your style and what you are looking for.
- Buying art online is often an option now (but nothing is better than seeing art in person!). Online is also a good resource for price comparison (through sites like Artsy)
- Contemporary art galleries are great for seeing artwork in person. They are very knowledgeable and can advise you on the art they offer.
- Auctions are an interactive, competitive way to purchase art. They can be very exciting! We would advise doing your research on these beforehand.
- Art fairs have lots of galleries and / or artists all in one event, so it can be a great place to explore and discover many art options that are all for sale!
UNIQUE CONSIDERATIONS WITH VARIOUS MEDIUMS
There are so many different ways art can be made and many, many different mediums, so we have outlined some things to consider below:
- Traditional two dimensional mediums, like prints and paintings, are typically very straightforward to display, with the only considerations being framing and positioning on the wall.
- With three dimensional artwork the plinth, display, and security of it requires some consideration. Sculptures are less common in homes so they can be quite a unique and interesting conversation piece.
- Do take into account the scale of the art and your space, will it fit, is there enough room around it, is it heavy, will the wall require additional support?
- Some media is fragile, how will it be safely displayed? Will the artwork be in direct sunlight, or in a humid location, or experience temperature fluctuations? All good things to consider. The seller of the artwork should be knowledgeable and be able to advise accordingly.
- Traditional art mediums are physical objects that can be touched and displayed in your space, where digital and new media artwork exist in digital formats and are often displayed through screens or projections. These come with their own considerations, screen size, resolution, power access.
- The market for traditional art mediums has been established for centuries, and there is a significant base of collectors and investors who are interested in purchasing and trading traditional art.
- The market for digital and new media art is relatively new and still developing, which can make it more difficult to predict the market for it and potential returns on investment. These emerging mediums offer the potential for innovation and experimentation beyond that of traditional art. This can lead to new forms of artistic expression and potentially higher rewards for investors. Overall, investing in traditional art mediums may offer a more established and stable investment opportunity, while investing in emerging mediums may offer the potential for higher rewards but with greater risks. Ultimately, the decision to invest in either traditional or emerging art mediums will depend on your personal preferences, risk tolerance, and investment goals.
BUILDING YOUR OWN COLLECTION
Art has the power to alter your mood, brighten your home and make you smile. When building your personal art collection, you should consider many things, but you should start with art you love, trust your instincts and go with your gut. Here's a few additional things to consider:
- Consider where the art will be displayed and how it will work with your existing art.
- A collection is often more interesting if it's diverse in medium, however it's also nice when the artworks tell a similar story, lending to a cohesive art collection.
- We like to think of personal art collections as the stories of the adventures and lived experiences people and their families have had. Building a collection that really speaks to these times, and possibly purchasing art along the way while on some of these adventures, leads to a collection that all comes together as the story of a life well lived and shared; these are the best collections.
COLLECTING FOR A SECONDARY RESIDENCE
A few things to consider:
- Climate - Humidity levels, direct sunlight, indoor / outdoor spaces.
- Security - If you plan on renting out your cottage, or if your second home remains uninhabited for long periods, you may not want to have extremely valuable artwork there.
- Time - Where do you spend most of your time? You will want to be able to appreciate your art in your everyday life.
- Content - Where is your second home? You may want the art in this space to reflect the environment and the feel of the locale. Try looking into the art scene and consider representing some great local art in your space.
HOW & WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER WORKING WITH AN ART CONSULTANT
The art world is all about connections. We, as artists and as art consultants are continually building these relationships with galleries, artists, and makers who are amazing to collaborate with and who can realize our vision and that of our clients. We have a large roster of artists who are excited to work with us because they appreciate that our clients appreciate art and they also like being included in our projects alongside other great artists. Additionally, we can relate to artists on their level (having practical knowledge and experience as artists comes in handy here). We use our knowledge, experience and connections to help clients source, and secure fair prices for, artwork. We also advise on transportation, installation and optimal artwork display. Consider working with an art consultant to help you to create a strong, cohesive art collection that reflects your values and works well in your space. It's what we do best.
WOLFGANG TILLMANS - AT THE AGO
TO LOOK WITHOUT FEAR
ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO
April 7 – Oct 1, 2023
The Wolfgang Tillmans’ show at the AGO is a major retrospective of his work and his first solo show in Canada. It began at the MoMA in NYC and following the exhibition at the AGO in Toronto it will next exhibit at the San Francisco MoMA. It includes his works from the 1980s up until present day.
Tillmans was born in Germany into a family of amateur photographers. Through his work he pushes the boundaries of what it means to engage the world through photography, exploring every genre. His work is analog and although he currently uses a digital camera, he still considers his work to be analog because he doesn’t move any pixels. Tillmans is an observer, documenting his experiences throughout his life. He is most interested in the shared human experience. The common thread throughout his work is the forging of the human connection and the idea of togetherness. In this show Tillmans is inviting us to experience his vision of what it feels like to live today. Tillmans believes “If one thing matters, everything matters” and chooses to display his work in a way that makes it accessible to everyone. He does this by showing his large scale prints right next to postcards, which are next to magazine clippings and displays art in the corners of the gallery, using binder clips and taped to hang pieces, alongside carefully framed works. This is, in Tillmans’ words is “a reflection of the way I see - the way I perceive or want to perceive my environment.” In his talk he made a joke about this, describing the way he hangs his work as the wall of a teenager: It’s prime real estate, where you want to show everything and things that you deeply love. Tillmans has been hanging his work like this since the very beginning.
❛ The personal connection I have with Tillmans’ work is my experience of working alongside one of his large scale photographs for years. I was the art director of an art consultancy housed in the offices of the YabuPushelberg design studio. The founders of YP, George and Glenn, are major art collectors themselves and have turned their lobby into an art paradise. They have lent their Tillmans piece, titled “Weed”, 2014 to the AGO for this show. It was great to be able to see it again in person! ❜
— Laura Wood