Why Do Art Collectors Buy Art?


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Art collectors buy art for many reasons and we’ll discuss a number of them here. If you’re considering becoming an art collector or improving your skills, take a look at our Art Collector’s Guide.

Providing economic support and building an underdeveloped ecosystem is one such reason (and one of the reasons ETChster was founded). Art collectors also like to be a part of a community and continue learning from other community members. Once they purchase these pieces, they also make fantastic decorations for home, helping art collectors invite the community in as well.

Art collectors also like to preserve history. Original art tends to be a unique depiction of the artists era and surroundings. We can only imagine what will come from the rise of Trumpism in the US, the war in the Ukraine, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Once pieces are collected, they also create a legacy to pass on to future generations. One of ETChster’s founders was heavily concerned with being sure the art pieces by family members in his possession had their stories attached for his children to enjoy.

There’s also another reason that inspires art collectors. They like the thrill of the chase. A type of art collector called a Trophy Hunter, especially enjoys the networking, detective work, negotiation, etc. required to obtain the rarest trophies on her list.

To Support the Arts

Some art collectors buy art to support the arts overall. Of the so-called fine arts, economic support for artists working their craft as a profession is stronger in music and architecture. If you compare the ecosystem for visual artists with that for film, the difference in scale is staggering. Sotheby’s, arguably the largest publicly-traded fine art business (and recognizable brand) actually stopped trading publicly in 2019 after it sold for $3.7 billion. Just Disney by itself is worth $224 billion at present and employees 190,000 people. And there are many more film/media companies with similar valuations.

That said, many art collectors like to intentionally put money into what they view to be undersupported areas. For many art collectors, it’s also supporting the local community. Communities that invest in public art actually fair better economically with higher property values, quality of life scores, and more.

To Join a Community

Art collecting as a hobby or for other reasons makes you a member of a unique community with interesting cultural events happening all the time. Galleries rotate what’s on display and host events frequently. Art fairs pop up in many larger areas. Other art collectors are often “Rennaissance” people, and artists often have unique perspectives.

The art community is often a reprieve from more mainstream media and corporate-driven culture. Supporters of visual arts are also often in the know on indy music, new restaurants, and what’s underground or up-and-coming.

In online settings, there are many forums including ETChster to connect with others that share interest in similar artists, genres, and more.

To Adorn Their Homes

Even an architecturally generic home can be an amazing space with a great art collection. Art collectors love to choose original pieces that bring something extra to a specific space. We’ll discuss the thrill of the chase momentarily, but when it comes to a piece for the home, the collector already has a specific spot in mind.

Often there’s a desired vibe in mind. When a piece that evokes that feeling comes along, that’s the one that gets purchased.

Even a small space can be welcoming for a dinner party with the right pieces. Art collectors love to have paintings with great stories in their proximity, serving as subtle reminders of different periods in their life and provoking good conversations with their guests.

To Preserve History

Art collectors may purchase pieces that serve as reminders of their own personal history, but another motivation is to preserve history for future generations. When a collector feels that a certain piece is really representative of an event or era in a way that can be enjoyed by future generations, that’s a powerful motivation to make a purchase and be sure the piece or pieces are preserved.

Among the 5 most valuable collections in the world (in 2022), you’ll note a number of collectors who focus primarily on Post-World War II art. There is a desire to be sure to document that artistic movement.

Other collectors focus on French Impressionists. Being sure that the best art of a period is preserved and getting credit for doing that work is a reward to many art collectors.

Art Collector Preserving History

To Pass On a Legacy

As mentioned in terms of preserving history, art collectors are thinking about future generations. Who might collectors have in mind in future generations? Their children, grandchildren, etc. Surrounding children with great art and then gifting it to them is one way to ensure they develop powers of observation and a broad perspective.

One of ETChster’s founders cited this reason as one of the reasons for building the earliest version of the app. As the direct descendant of multiple generations of artists with a new baby, he was concerned that the stories of the pieces of art in his home might be lost to the sands of time, or worse, the pieces themselves. He wanted to be sure his children had a digital record at a minimum where they could go see the pieces.

To Experience the Thrill of the Search

Another reason art collectors buy art is that they love the pursuit. Building networks, using detective skills, and attending events in search of perfect pieces stimulates the hunter side of our mammal brains. It’s a lot of fun! You’ll find this thrill-seeking behavior among the holders of the most valuable art collections in the world.

Especially for the Trophy Hunter, having a target acquisition in mind and moving through the process to claim it is just as motivating as seeing it thereafter. Typically, the next trophy hunt begins immediately.

Searching for great art is an adventure that allows them to participate with all of the remarkable people in the art ecosystem.

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Eddie Davis

Back in 2018, Eddie decided there had to be a better way. He a baby on the way and a house full of original art from his ancestors. So he started building an art collecting app to catalog each piece and capture its story. And then he started buying (or trying to buy) original art in his home town of Atlanta, Georgia, United States and quickly discovered that nearly all artists had broken, out-of-date websites and made it nearly impossible to buy their work. So he connected his catalog app to a maintenance-free artist website. Somewhere in the middle, crypto NFTs exploded and then imploded, and the ETChster global community grew to ~15,000 artists and art collectors of all walks of life. Et cetera...