How did Artwork get so expensive?

Have you ever wondered why artwork is so expensive? It turns out that there are several valid reasons for this…To learn more, read on. I get asked variations on this question or overhear it in others’ conversations about purchasing artwork. While I sometimes inwardly bristle inwardly when hearing such remarks, because I am an artist who knows the inside story about how hard and expensive it is to make original artwork, I also want to give others the benefit of the doubt. I realize that others who do not have an art background may not be aware of the reasons why artwork has become so expensive, and in that spirit I am writing this blog post, to help them become more educated about the creative process.

What is the definition of art in our Modern times?

In our modern society of today where speed of execution seems to be often valued above quality, I think fine art is no longer viewed as a viable occupation, as it once was during the renaissance era when artists had a clear path to be trained by master artists and to be paid by wealthy patrons for their commissioned works. Instead, fine art has largely been replaced by applied art forms, such as graphic design, cinematography, animation, photography, fashion design, interior design, etc.  However, I think that most artists have to support themselves by taking professions in the applied arts or pursuing some other occupation altogether to support their creative pursuits. Even in public schools, art is often seen as an “extra” subject, not quite as worthy of learning as other science, math, or technology-based courses, such as science, mathematics, engineering, etc. I also think that this attitude of art as “extra” may influence others’ perception of the value of art, not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of its capacity to enrich society and the next generation.

The Rareness of Art as a Profession

On the other hand, the somewhat recent learning model of the STEAM curriculum in the educational system is a promising development, in which educators and hopefully students, are learning about the interconnectedness of art amongst other disciplines, and therefore, its usefulness to society. There are however a minority of artists who are able to pursue their passion as entrepreneurs by selling their art or making a living through online teaching. But to return to the original point, why is the artwork a costly commodity, I am turning my attention to an article I read recently online entitled, Why is Artwork So Expensive? (The Top Ten Reasons), https://www.thecoldwire.com/why-are-paintings-so-expensive/, author unknown.

Why does artwork cost so much?

So, on to a few reasons why that artwork that you looked at in the art gallery or online via an art website was so darned expensive! According to the author of, Why is artwork so expensive? They state that because the artwork is one of a kind, it cannot be reproduced, even by the artist themselves because each brush stroke is unique.

Art is Original and Making it, is Expensive

Another reason to note the cost of the artwork is the cost of art supplies. As a working artist and teacher, I know that quality art supplies can be really expensive, whether I buy them at Michaels or an online art supplier. For example, my favorite medium of choice, which is working with oil paints, is the most expensive one of all, with lots of equipment, such as canvases, brushes, paints, palettes, paint mediums, easels, etc. Working from experience, I have learned that trying to save money by using cheap paint or other art supplies is often not worthwhile. Instead, it just makes my work that much harder. When I am doing custom art or making art for sale, I get the best possible art supplies that I can afford, and so I have to charge clients and customers more to make a return on my investment. I am committed to making my clients a quality product that will last.

However, if I am just experimenting in my sketchbook with ideas, I will sometimes use cheaper products. But again, using better quality supplies is usually a more enjoyable art experience for me. Often,  I work with cheaper brushes the hairs fall out and need to be replaced much sooner. And I have spent a lot of time picking out stray brush hairs from canvases or trying to work with cheap soft pastels that will not “stick” to the pastel paper. In this instance, paying additional money for quality soft pastels, such as Rembrandts, is worth it over saving a few dollars with cheaper brands, such as off-label art products like Artist’s Loft. Or, I used the wrong kind of paper for watercolor or ink, and it ended up buckling or pilling my watercolor or ink drawing. All this to say, sometimes saving money is not worth it, and that is just one of the reasons why art is so expensive. As artists, we have to charge more to get a return for our investment, just like any other professional craftsperson, such as a contractor, interior designer, fashion designer, etc. That’s it for today, but next week I will review a few other reasons for the high cost of the artwork. On the subject of artwork, I am featuring some highlights from my Inktober challenge for 2022 that I worked on last fall. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Advertisement

Author: artofschmidt

Jodie's focus is on oil painting, mixed media, and soft pastels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: