How You Can Invest in Art

Art comes in many forms, but it is paintings and prints we will explore here.  They are the most commonly used in the art world as a form of currency.

Investments in art should be made with a view to the long term, like other sound investments – land, houses, shares, businesses.

You could be lucky and turn over a quick dollar, as art like the share market is prone to fluctuations.  However it is more likely, that like Blue Chip shares on the stock market, you need to be patient and stick around for the long term gain.

Modern art tends to change like fashion.  It comes and goes, and for this reason it will be traditional art that most of this information relates to.  Traditional art is much more staid and appeals to every generation.

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Why Collect Art?

For centuries an original painting has been seen as being prestigious, and even today it is still very much the case.  Art works are sold around the world, sometimes for millions of dollars, just because these works are seen as something of great beauty and also an item of immense investment value.

Your purchase of an original painting means that no-one else will have a work of art exactly like yours.  It is a one off, which makes it something very special and very valuable.  Every artist puts something of themselves into each painting that they create.  It is this love and joy that they conceive that makes art such a ‘living’ object.

Your art collection will reflect your taste in art.  It will show your friends and family your discernment and in many ways, will tell a story about your inner feelings that may not always be readily seen by others.

One major advantage that an art collection has over other collectable items like coins & banknotes, is that you can admire your investment every day.  Art can hang on the wall of your home or office, where it is able to be seen by not only you, but family, friends & clients.  By concentrating on quality pieces by recognised artists, you can build up a valuable art collection.

It’s just over two hundred years since Europeans first settled in Australia, and in that historically short period, many talented, and some brilliant artists have emerged.

Originally there were the colonial artists – surveyors, explorers, convicts and settlers, who perceived their new world through the eyes of a European upbringing and painted for other Europeans.  Then there were other Colonial full time artists from overseas, such as Conrad martens, John Glover, Eugene von Guerard and louis Buvelot, who painted Australia’s early settlement years.

Following the gold rushes in various parts of Australia, came the most famous group of Australian artists, established by Tom Roberts at a camp site called Heidelberg, giving its name to a whole new movement in Australian art – The Heidelberg School.

Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Louis Abrahams, Charles Conder and Aurthur Streeton joined in painting camps at Heidelberg and Box Hill.  The standards set by this group remain the yard stick by which most Australian traditional painting is still measured.  They painted pictures of the exciting events in their wondrous new world – pioneering life, robbery, travel, the bustle of streets, departure of ships or some personal interlude.  Today these painting sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars.

The work of past artists, or Dead Artists as the market calls them, is easy to judge and accept in terms of investment potential.  They have a track record.  You can look up a painting in books or on the internet.  Past sales, auctions and even art advisors will tell you a particular artist’s or a painting’s particular form.

The real challenge is to decide which Living Artist you should collect and invest in.

Which Living Artist Should You Choose?

The first rule is that you should buy art you like.  After all, you will have to live with it for a few years, before it has increased in value to a point that you can make a handsome profit.  You should also buy the best quality pieces you can afford.

Buying the work of a young artist gives you the opportunity to follow their work, as it is accepted by the market, but there are literally thousands of young artists out there in the market place.  Which one should you choose?  The gamble is to select an artist that is going to ‘make it’.

In ten years time you may look back and say, well, if only I had bought a painting by so and so, look what they are worth now.  If only we could predict who were going to be the great artists a few years from now.  Remember, that you are the collector, not a speculator.  Whilst you may not be able to predict a sure winner, you can increase your odds to a more favourable outcome by following a few simple rules.

If the artist that you have selected is in the tradition of say the Heidelberg School, or is copying an artist from the 19th century, then they are just copying the work of a bygone era.  This is not a wise choice for sound investment.  Likewise, if an artist is being absolutely outrageous and painting something really ‘way out’, it is not a sound basis to collect his or her work.

Like any investment, you should spread your art collection over a number of artists.  However, that is not to say that you should only collect one piece of work from each artist.  By collecting two or more pieces from each artist, it allows you to sell one, realize a profit and still retain one or more works for future enjoyment.

By selecting an artist who is being promoted well, you have an excellent chance that your artist will ‘make it’.  Artists are often very good at painting, but not as good at marketing themselves and the works they produce.  This is a factor that should be taken into account when considering a major purchase.

How is an Artist Promoted?

If you choose an artist who is promoted well, it means a better chance at bigger profits.  Art is like any product, it must be marketed properly for it to sell well.  The better and quicker it sells, the more it is in demand and the more it increases in value.  Remember that art is like any object – it is subject to market forces of supply and demand.  The higher the demand, the bigger the prices.  Artists who have someone marketing their work, are generally, a safer bet.

An artist may only produce a few paintings per month, and a successful artist needs to focus on what they do best, painting.   The people who market artists are called agents or managers.  One manager will often have a few artists under their management.  An agent will have a good eye for art and will only select an artist that has an exceptionally good chance of becoming a great artist.

An agent has a number of contractual commitments that they make with the artist before the partnership commences.  One of these may be an agreement to buy all of the artist’s work.  To make sure such an undertaking can be fulfilled, the agent works hard at marketing the artist’s work.

When you purchase an original painting by an artist who has an agent marketing them, you are buying more than just a lovely painting.  You are purchasing an investment in art.  I use the word investment carefully.  Generally speaking, most art will increase in value, and some art is destined to become famous, others will fall by the wayside.

Like any market driven product, it depends not just on the artist’s skill but the management of their business affairs.  As with any product, you can have the very best mouse trap, but until it is marketed properly it will never make any real money.

An artist is marketed by creating awareness in the general public of his or her work.  As you can appreciate, one artist can only produce so many paintings each year.  This will vary from artist to artist, but can be as low as six paintings up to five hundred per year.  An average is forty to fifty paintings per year.

If an artist produces fifty paintings per year, then a maximum of fifty people each year get to know their work.  Often this number is much less because in reality, the same person will often buy more than one painting of an artist’s work.  That way they can sell one and keep a painting for personal enjoyment and investment.

Historically, an artist will live in a small community and that community will support them and buy their works.  With the advent of photography, prints, internet and all things digital. Australia and the rest of the world, can now be introduced to a great artist through these mediums.

Many artists have no choice but to market themselves.  They do this by holding exhibitions at private and public galleries, selling their paintings at art shows and entering their paintings in competitions to try to win a section, so that their work becomes better known through the resulting publicity.  Some artists do an excellent job of marketing themselves.

Putting art into print is a wonderful way of leveraging an artist’s work.  Thirteen paintings are printed onto a calendar, printed onto greeting cards, glasses cases, coin purses, jigsaws, coffee mugs, biscuit tins etc…  Thousands of which can be produced and sold or given away.  By printing say ten thousand calendars each year for ten years and assuming that at least two hundred thousand people see the calendar, that is two hundred thousand more people that see an artist’s work over the decade.  Individual artists that market themselves like this are few and far between.

This is what former agent of d’Arcy W Doyle, Okko Boer had to say about marketing an artist:

“The hardest part is to find a great painter.  You don’t find them easily.  Without one, you really can’t promote his or her paintings.

It’s the painters that paint in different styles and present different pictures that really stand out.  There are a lot of painters in the world who will paint landscapes, but there are very few people who paint landscapes that really grab you.

An artist that really stands out will be wanted all over the country and then, of course, he or she might be wanted overseas.  There are only so many pictures to go around and that’s what makes the prices go up.  One person will say, I want one too, and someone else will want one, that’s what happens.  The same thing that happened to d’Arcy will happen to other great artists, because you can’t paint seven thousand pictures a year, can you?  No.  It’s just impossible.  It is a painstaking job to paint detailed pictures like great artists paint.

How do we promote him or her?  We will have open edition prints that will sell everywhere, that people buy at furniture stores and picture framing shops.  There will be Limited Edition prints that people can buy as an investment.  People will be introduced to his or her work all over the country.

Then we get phone calls come to our Sydney office who say, can we have some of their paintings in Queensland?  Soon we’ll have someone in Melbourne and someone in Adelaide.  Then the phone calls come though and say, Can we have more paintings?  They just don’t exist though.   What you see on the wall today, is what is available.  There are no others.  We don’t have any left in our warehouse.

He’s still working on a couple, but they won’t be ready for another week or so.  So we don’t have any others for sale and that’s the magic part of it.  The people who are buying these paintings are making a wonderful choice and a wonderful investment.  With the demand we are already getting for this artist’s work, the prices will just have to go up.  It is nothing magical.  It’s just a question of introducing more and more people to his fabulous painting.  And that’s how we do it.”

The paintings are sold through selected galleries that deal with similar styles of artists.  Each gallery selected will have geographic location that will maximise the exposure of the artist.  One gallery from each state will be targeted and perhaps a few regional galleries in high traffic towns.

An original painting can be reproduced onto paper prints, canvas prints, biscuit tins, placemats, coasters, mugs, trays, calendars, tapestries, greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles etc…  These items can be sold in a wide range of shops such as giftware, interior design, pharmacies, supermarkets, sewing shops, furniture stores – any retail outlet, not just galleries.

Like any market driven product, it depends not just on the artist’s skill, but the management of their art.  For you to make money from your investment, the demand for the artist’s work must increase year by year.  As the demand increases, so does the price.

Every artist has their own style.  As that style becomes more recognisable to a wider cross section of the public, so his or her work is much sought and the spiral continues upwards. 

Initially, when an amateur artist starts to paint, it is the artist who will set the price of their own work.  They start off very low.  Often, an amateur artist will have no idea what thir work is really worth and rely on a gallery or friends to help set a price.  So long as they cover the cost of the frame, materials and make a small amount of money for their time, they are happy to have someone want to buy their work.

When an artist has an agent, it is the agent who sets the price.  As the demand increases, so does the price, but only very gradually in the first few years even though the agent could quite conceivably sell the works for much more.  If the work goes up in price too quickly it can kill off the promotion of the artist’s work.

At Morpeth Gallery the price of most paintings are worked out per square centimetre.  This keeps the pricing even and relevant to the size of the artwork.  Sometimes a loading is added onto the artwork if it is highly detailed, or for example has wildlife plus a full landscape background, as opposed to an airbrushed background. 

Usually the price will increase 10% to 15% in the early years.  This keeps the cost of the paintings within the price range of a reasonable number of people.  During this time the marketing continues.  After five years, if the artist’s work is in high demand, with a waiting list of clients to purchase those artworks, the price increase will be higher – 50% to 100% per year would not be unreasonable. 

Should the artist die, the work will double in price overnight, and in many cases, increase ten-fold within a year of their death.  Then the prices tend to round off.  Any resurgence in popularity or marketing of a dead artist, in say a retrospective exhibition ten years on, could see the price increase yet again.

d’Arcy W. Doyle is a good example.  It is estimated that one in four houses in Australia contain a Doyle image in one form or another – a print, collectable biscuit tin, set of playing cards etc…

d’Arcy’s first manager saw original paintings jump from $1,500 each to $25,000 each in just seven years.  Thirty years prior to that at the beginning of Doyle’s at career, they were $40 each.  Doyle nostalgic full size originals now sell for around $50,000 each.

Art can be bought and sold in many venues and through different channels.  There are auctions, the internet, direct from the artist, art shows on land, on cruise ships, flea market finds and there are art galleries.  Most galleries sell art in the primary market because it is the first time that the work is sold.

A few galleries and most auction houses, art dealers, newspapers and via internet, deal in the secondary art market.  This is where the artwork is being sold for the second, third or more times.  Here market forces come into play as seller and buyer find common ground.  It is usually the work of better known living or dead artists that are sold in this way. 

How Much Should you Spend on an Original Artwork?

You don’t need to spend a lot.  Whilst some purchase art purely for investment, not caring whether they like the subject or not, most of us will purchase a piece of art we love to look at every day.  If you are a first time buyer, forget about the dollar signs.  Art collecting should initially be about enjoyment.

Should I Purchase an Original or a Print?

The short answer is: purchase an original artwork if you can afford to.  With an original painting, there is only one.  An artist may paint more that are similar, but they are never exactly the same. 

We’d all love to have for example, an original Norman Linsday or Doyle hanging on our wall at home, but they cost the same amount to purchase as a new car or a house deposit.  If the original is out of your price range, then consider a Limited Edition Print.  These prints are usually numbered.  There may have been ten only or one thousand only created.  The print plates are then destroyed.  Limited edition prints also have the capacity to increase in value over time.

Buyer Beware

Make sure that you are buying an original or print artwork that is sound.  If there is fading to a print, damage, or the artwork hasn’t been signed by the artist, there could be doubt as to who actually painted it.  That’s when you may see the words, ‘attributed to’ being used in the description.  Prints can be altered (have a coat of varnish put over the top to make it look like an original because you can see brush strokes), damaged or framed incorrectly (glued down onto a backing board).  These will be bad investments regardless of price. 

When considering an artwork as an investment ask yourself: Would anyone else buy this artwork?  Can I live with it for a few years?  By looking at art over time, you will develop your own set of guidelines.

Art Fraud

The most common paintings that are faked are those of dead artists.  Some artist’s families have been active in their careers, and can spot a fake instantly, and will offer a valuation to authenticate it.  Other family members may see a way to make a quick dollar and issue certificates of authenticity anyway.

In the mid 2000s fakes of dead artists began appearing onto the market, produced not by artists, but by copiers in China.  Some of the fakes are easily spotted.  They have spelling mistakes, shadows going the wrong way, have been produced on artist board that was not available when the painting was reputed to have been created and with paints that didn’t exist back then either.

Other fakes are very good and are difficult to pick.  There are experts out there who can tell the difference between a fake and the real thing.  Rely on them to advise you, but even then it comes down to buyer beware.

The risk of buying a painting over the internet or at auction houses is increased because of these fakes.  Auction houses acknowledge that 10% of the paintings that they deal with are fakes.  In house experts analyse every painting that passes through their doors, and whilst they take every effort to eliminate fakes, they still know that some slip through the system. 

Beware of wording on an auction catalogue that says ‘attributed to’ a certain artist.  This means they are unsure about the paintings provenance and they can’t rely on the signature of the artist alone, because copiers can copy those too.

It becomes extremely problematic as to whether you will get your money back if you unknowingly purchase a fake.  Buying through a reputable gallery guarantees the authenticity of a painting.

Whilst the Australian Police and FBI Fraud Squad will investigate art fraud, they often don’t have enough conclusive evidence to pursue these cases to a conclusion.

Buying at Art Shows & Charity Auctions

It’s often a donation to charity and that’s a great feeling, but don’t expect most of these paintings to increase in value.  The art displayed, as nice as it is, may seldom appreciate in value.

Modern artists who use modern materials and ignore the time tested methods, run the risk that their works will quickly deteriorate.  Materials like house paint, newspaper, collages and works that are made up of multiple media will often be very vulnerable to degeneration.  Avoid these works for long term art investment.

Repairing Damaged Artworks

Do not attempt the restoration yourself.  Don’t use a backyard conservator.  Restoration of artworks is expensive, time consuming and should only be carried out by a qualified person.  Conservators complete a 3-year course and are continually refreshing their skills as new methods of conservation evolve.

If a painting has paint damage, the artist who created it is our first suggestion.  Morpeth Gallery is very fortunate to have a professional conservator located just one block from the Gallery.  Duncan Harty can repair tears in canvas, cracked & flaky paint, cleaning a painting with cigarette or open fire smoke damage etc… 

Duncan fits jobs for Morpeth Gallery in around major restoration work he completes for Australian National Galleries & Museums. 

Duncan can be found at: Morpeth Conservation Studio.  PO Box 74, Morpeth NSW 2321 or Email:  Phone (02) 4934 1471.  He specialises in the conservation and restoration of fine & decorative arts, including paintings, china and sculpture.

The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material has a list of private conservators.  You can write to them at PO Box 239, Moonah, Tasmania, 7009 for a free listing of their 60+ members also available via their Website:

Foxing is Mould Damage on Art

High humidity is as bad as direct sunlight on artistic works.  Brown spots or specks on paper prints, watercolours or mounts is called foxing.  It occurs on books too.  It is caused by high humidity and whilst it can be treated, by a conservator, it will sometimes still leave pale spots on the print.  Mounts that are dirty or that have foxing on them can be replaced by a framer with new acid free mounts.

If the roof has leaked in a storm it may leave a water mark or stain & ruin the investment potential of a print.  If your artworks are insured, you may wish to consider making an insurance claim.  If making a purchase of a print with foxing, at the right price to enjoy for arts sake, sure, but don’t purchase for it art investment.

The Living Artist Market

The advantage of buying a painting by a living artist, is that you can guarantee the authenticity of the painting.

An artist will always verify that it is one of theirs and will be able to give you lots of information besides: when it was painted, where it was painted etc…if that information is not available when you make the initial purchase.  Being able to authenticate a painting and have a good provenance for that painting guarantees its investment potential.

Original paintings that have been published in some format, such as in a book, on a calendar, or a greeting card, or print, have outstanding provenance and bring premium prices at auction.  This is because you can compare the painting to the reproduction, to verify it is the real thing.

The Deceased (Dead) Artist Market

The artworks of a well established and eminently regarded artist who has died, will increase in value dramatically.  Typically, the only way that these artworks can go is up in price & value. No more original artworks can ever be produced.

An example of the impact on the increase in the price of a painting from a living artist to when the artist dies is Brett Whiteley.  Born in 1939, Brett was a well known contemporary painter.  Prior to his death his paintings were selling for around $50,000 each.  Just six months after his death the same paintings were realising $250,000 at auction.

When Sydney based bush landscape artist Kevin Best announced his retirement in 2008, the prices of his paintings increased by 50%.  They went up again, when he passed away a few years later.

Some galleries and dealers specialise in the dead artist market.  Should you wish to invest in this market, you should talk to one of these specialists.  Other galleries, such as Morpeth Gallery, specialise in particular artist’s paintings, from the beginnings of their career, right to the end.  Galleries who have an extensive knowledge of a particular artist work, will bethe leading authority on that particular artist.

Investing in Art has Never Been So Good

The Australian Government sometimes announces tax incentives to small business and art investment is included in these benefits.  There can be tax benefits, depreciation of art benefits and superfund benefits to investing in art.

Ask your accountant about what benefits there may be to you and your small business.

Tax Incentive

For the year 2021 – 2022, the Australian Federal Government is giving business owners the advantage of a 100% tax deduction immediately available on the purchase of artworks for the business. The 100% tax deduction is for the spend of up to $30,000 (per item) on art purchases. The $30,000 limit applies to each individual purchase. You may purchase as many items as you like and claim the deduction on each one.

Art & Super Funds

Investors continue to place art in their Superfunds, as art is a sound long term investment.  There are rules that must be followed. Please check with your accountant, as the rules are constantly changed by the Government.

Currently, the art must be purchased by the Super Fund.  It is not allowed to be hung in the home, as this is deemed to be gaining personal pleasure from your art and you would need to pay the superfund rent for your viewing pleasure, to do so.  If the Superfund is run by a business, hanging art in an office is permitted.  The Superfund must be set up to allow art to be included in its portfolio of investments.

The benefits of holding art in a Superfund, are that art increases in value during good times and bad times, unlike some shares, for example.  Art has a slow but steady growth of around 10% per year, providing you choose the right artists to invest in.  These would be artists who are marketed and promoted.

Because Superfunds are taxed at a low rate, by placing art in a Superfund, you can maximise the capital gain.

Selling Your Art Investments

If you’d like to have a go at selling your own art, these days the best place is the internet.  Ebay, Etsy, Facebook Market Place, Gumtree are all platforms for re-sale.

The other alternative is to sell through an auction house, the gallery where you purchased the artwork from if it is still in business, as they will know the history of the artist and their paintings, or a gallery that deals in that artist’s works, or the artist’s style of work.  Most auction houses and galleries will charge a commission to handle the sale.  25% – 33% of the retail price that is achieved is typical at a gallery.  An auction house will be 25% – 40%.

Remember to give the provenance to the gallery or auction house, with the artwork that you are selling.

If you are considering an auction house to sell your art, talk to:

Hunter Region

Norman’s Auctions, Wickham, Newcastle.  P: 02 4969 4555 W:

BidBarn Tender Centre, Wickham, Newcastle P: (02) 49695656 W:

Davidson Auctions, Annandale, Sydney. P:02 9423 8300

Davidson’s host auctions in Newcastle a few times a year, as well as in Sydney & online.

Sydney Region

Davidson Auctions, Annandale, Sydney. P:02 9423 8300

Lawsons Auctioneers & Valuer’s, Leichhardt, Sydney.  P: 02 9566 2377

What is Provenance?

Provenance relating to the art world, means a history or background of the artwork.  It will include when it was painted, by whom, when it was purchased, from whom it was purchased.  Was it ever published in a magazine, published as prints?  Was it part of a special exhibition & listed in a catalogue?  The more information that you have the better the provenance is.  The more information you can supply a gallery, auction house or a potential buyer, the more you will gain for your artworks at resale.

If you have an entire collection that you wish to sell, you could approach a gallery or hire a space to present the entire collection as an exhibition.  With good marketing and publicity it could be a sell out.  Alternatively sell the artworks off separately over time, rather than a number at once.

What is an Open Edition Print?

This is a print that has been produced from an original artwork, typically in the thousands, or hundreds of thousands.  It may be reproduced in different sizes and as prints, on giftware… you see it everywhere.  There is no limitation to how many or where the image may be used.

What is a Limited Edition Print?

Print making began in the 15th Century.  The 16th Century was dominated by the works of Durer, whilst the 17th Century saw Rembrandt gain prominence.  The 18th Century saw fine prints made by Reynolds, Gainsborough & Goya.  Great 19th Century printmakers included Monet, Degas & Whistler.  The 20th Century brought a wider and freer use of printmaking techniques by artists including Matisse & Picasso. 

Limited Edition prints produced by these two artists sell today for $100,000 to $600,000, whilst other artists such as Whistler, Matisse & Toulouse-Lautrec, fetch higher prices each time they come up for auction.

Paintings reproduced as Limited Edition prints are usually one of the very best of an artist’s work.

Limited means that the artist, agent or gallery who has produced the print, guarantees that a limited number of prints have been reproduced from (before digital technology) a printer’s metal plate. The plate has been created from the original artwork.  These prints are printed onto a fine art paper with a high quality gsm, and then numbered and signed by the original artist who created the original artwork. A certificate of authenticity is often issued with the print.  Alternatively the gallery may write a written valuation.  Keep this for provenance.

Edition or print run is the total number of prints made from the original image.  Print numbered 74/100 means that the print is number 74 of 100 prints in the edition run.  It is not necessarily the 74th print to be taken off the plate.

A print is a copy of an original artwork produced by photography, laser copiers, digital scan computer generated images or offset printing.

With digital technology, prints can be printed onto paper, fabric or straight onto canvas.  Canvas prints are often referred to as giclee reproductions.

What is a Giclee Reproduction?

Paper prints must be framed behind glass.  The new improved giclee (pronounced Gee Clay), came onto the market around 2005.  State-of-the-art equipment allows the printer to capture the original artwork exactly.  The reproductions are so close to the original artwork, that often you cannot tell which one is which, until you step up really close to examine them.

During the process an artwork is photographed, digitally scanned with extremely high resolution cameras, colour corrected to match the original artwork exactly.  The process can be used for pastels, watercolours, oils, acrylics, metalpoint.  A giclee can be produced onto fine art paper or canvas. 

Most giclee prints come with a 99year (lifetime) guarantee that they will not fade or discolour in strong (sun) light, unlike paper prints.  If the giclee print is reproduced onto canvas, it doesn’t need to be framed behind glass.  It will look exactly like an original artwork.  If you cannot afford the original artwork, a giclee print is the next best thing.  Museums like the Louvre, Guggenheim, Metro & Buckingham Palace Art Galleries, display giclee reproductions because the quality is outstanding and it allows them to protect the originals.

Framing Limited Edition Prints on Paper or Original Artworks on Paper

Use a reputable framer.  Yes it will cost a bit more, but it’ll be worth it.

Only acid free mats and archival backing board should be used.  Your Limited Edition print or original artwork on paper should be ‘museum mounted’.  The work will remain ‘free floating’ in the frame, as only three spots, or a strip of tape is used at the top of the print, to hold it in place.  The tape has a vegetable based adhesive so that the print is only fastened to the acid free backing board at these points.  It’s usually 3M Archival double sided tape.

Your print then should be ‘double mounted’ within the frame.  Double mounting, with two matts, ensures your print will not come into contact with the glass.

Storing Unframed Limited Edition Prints – Flat or Rolled

Store them flat between two pieces of acid free matt board.  Seal the edges with tape, so that insect damage cannot occur.  Store in a damp free area.  To store rolled, select a large width cylinder from somewhere like Australia Post or Officeworks.  Carefully roll the prints up in acid free paper and gently drop into the cylinder allowing the prints to expand out to fit the size of the tube.  Don’t use elastic bands, string, staples or pins to secure the prints, as this may damage them.  Seal the ends up with sticky tape, so insect damage cannot occur.

Handling Unframed Limited Edition Prints

Wash your hands and dry well.  Wear a clean pair of white cotton gloves, which you can purchase from a grocery supermarket or Bunnings for less than $1 a pair.  Wearing gloves will stop oils from your hands transferring to the print paper. Make sure any surface you intend to lay the prints on, is clean and dry.  Hold the print by the bulk of the object, not the corner.  Don’t let the framer cut the print down as this will ruin its investment potential. 

Displaying & Caring Your Framed Original Paintings & Prints

The two greatest threats to your works on display are fading by strong sunlight and mould attack from high humidity.  In Australia we have plenty of both. 

Works of art on paper are more susceptible to fading than oil paintings.  This is because the oil paints are much thicker than watercolours.  Oil based paints are more resistant to fading.  The ideal light for paintings and prints is light either daylight or artificial light measuring 50lux.  To avoid foxing the aim is to have stable humidity.  If this is not possible and you see mould spots on mounts or paper artworks, get it treated or re-mounted.

You can also escape damage to your art works by making sure anchor points are strong enough to hold the weight of the item.  Use two hooks rather than one.  Use two hands to move paintings and framed prints.  Avoid painting around it.  Take the picture down, paint the vacant area, then return your artwork, when the paint has dried.  Remember to have adequate insurance cover for your artworks.

How do you care for a painting?

If a painting is a watercolour or pastel it will be framed behind glass or Acrylic.  The glass or acrylic protects the paint and paper from water damage as a result of a spillage. Therefore to maintain it only requires cleaning the glass as required.

An oil or Acrylic painting is protected by a glaze that the artists paints over the image when the painting is finished and has time to dry.  This glaze acts like a sheet of glass in that any fly dirt or dust or accidental spillage on it can be cleaned off using a cotton cloth dipped into soft soapy water, because the glaze gives that layer of protection between you and the oil paint.

Once every 30 to 40 years your painting can be reglazed by cleaning the surface from any dust or marks and then reglazing it, this can be done by an art restorer.  It doesn’t cost much to have this done and the reglazing allows the paint in the painting to rejuvenate and it will look just like new.

Do you need to put a painting behind glass?

Only watercolour or pastel paintings need to be framed behind glass.  Oil or Acrylic paintings do not need to be framed behind glass, as they have a glaze over them to protect the paint.

Why are some paintings on Canvas or Linen?

Linen is usually referring to Belgian Linen considered by artists to be the finest linen in the world to paint on, usually costing upwards of $1,000.00 per metre. Some artists like the bounce of a canvas stretched across bars, called stretcher bars.

What is Board?

Board can refer to Artist Board which some artists prefer because of the lack of movement compared to canvas.  Some manufacturers glue down canvas on to a panel (also called a board). The rigid support can be made of solid wood, plywood, MDF, heavy card, thin stiff plasticised card, or Gatorboard (plastic impregnated foam board). 

Insuring Investment Artworks

Insurance of your paintings typically doesn’t cost much, because art is not stolen like antiques, jewellery or collections of stamps & coins.  This is because art is difficult to resell to a third party.  Coins, jewellery and the like can easily be resold.  Most art losses are caused by house fires or water damage. 

All investment artworks should be covered under insurance.  Under your existing Home & Contents insurance policy, you need to have any painting or print that is valued more than $1000, (this figure may vary from company to company) listed as a separate item on your policy.  That’s because if it is listed at the market value in your policy any claim you may have to make will be automatically processed.  You may only receive a maximum amount of $1000 for your entire collection.

Each insurance company varies on the protection that it gives with its policy.  Morpeth Gallery uses an insurance broker, who covers art work for the usual, like theft and fire, but also covers artworks in case one falls off the wall, or if an artwork is damaged by vandalism – a stray ball that has been thrown by a child, for example.  Artworks are also covered whilst they are in transit, for example, from the Gallery to the framer, for an exhibition etc…

When renewing your insurance policy, ask about what your policy covers with regards to your art collection.  All reputable galleries will supply valuations of artworks.  In particular the works and artists that they deal with on a regular basis.  Valuations may also be obtained by auction houses who offer this service and independent valuer’s. 

Try Melbourne based Valuations by Joel.  Warren Joel Auction & Valuation Services.  P: 0418 316 135  W:  This can be done by simply filling out a form online for up to five items.  Their Sydney saleroom is based in Woollahra.

In Conclusion

When will you make a profit?  When will you see that elusive ‘right’ time?  Can you lose money in art?  It is possible to lose money in art if you purchase a fake, or if you have paid too much in a boom time in the dead artist market, or the contemporary art market, which is fashionable one moment and not the next.  Traditional art is more stable.

Art is a long term investment.  You will need to keep your artwork five to ten years before expecting a cent return for your capital outlay.

Art like any investment will go up and down, during the term of its life.  These trends depend on the strength of the economy, sometimes fashion in art and major events, like the death of an artist, which can have a strong impact on the value of the work.  You may be luck and make a quick profit.  If that chance appears – take it.

Buying art that you like and the best quality pieces that you can afford, will give you great enjoyment.  Your artworks will decorate your home and office, impress your friends and you can look forward to making a handsome profit in the future.

All of the artists represented at Morpeth Gallery are published and marketed artists.  The team at Morpeth Gallery are there to advise you in your traditional landscape, still life, marine, coastal, wildlife and figurative art purchases and investments.  Portfolios with an artist biography & valuation are created for every major artwork sold. Updated valuations are provided when required. 

Represented artists are in residence at Morpeth Gallery a few times each year, in a relaxed environment, so you can introduce yourself, have a chat, a photo taken and watch them at work at their easels.  Being an artist is often a solitary existence.  They enjoy the opportunity to meet art enthusiasts, collectors and investors of their works.