Why DO People Buy Original Paintings

"Fig A Row", Oil on Linen Canvas
Private Collection

I often hear the question, "Why would someone buy original art, especially when they can buy a print and save so much money?"

I've thought about the answer to that question, read many articles on the subject, and considered what the answer could be that makes practical, reasonable sense to someone who isn't already an art collector.

Art Represents More Than Eye Candy
I saw a television show about a man who volunteered his time to help an elderly man. He helped install a ramp that would make it possible for the older gentleman to get in and out of his house without help. The volunteer, at the end of the show, understood that the ramp was more than just a ramp. The obvious reason for the ramp was the physical need. But, as important as the ability to get in and out of the house was, that ramp represented much more than  physical capability. 

That man could come and go at will again, and that represented freedom. It gave him a connection to other people, therefore opening up possibilities for experiences not possible to one who is housebound.

It made me realize that the decision to buy a painting also goes beyond the obvious solution for finding "art for the room."

Decoration as Expression of Style and Taste
  • It's true that a painting adds an important decorative touch to a room. It can literally define it through its use of color, subject, size, etc. That is a legitimate reason all by itself for buying a painting. But it also makes a statement. 
  • The choice of a particular work of art does say something about the person who chose it. It is an affirmation of taste, knowledge or understanding about art or an artist. 
  • It connects the owner to something beyond himself or herself because it is a unique item created by another person instead of a machine.

Emotions Count
The selection of art can be charged with emotion. The choice of a particular painting is often the result of a reaction the buyer had when he or she saw the painting in the first place. If you've ever seen a painting that "knocked your socks off" you know what I mean. The reaction is visceral, physical, and undeniable.

Feel Good About Yourself
Also, and perhaps most importantly, owning a painting gives one a feeling that goes beyond the tingle from the purchase of a new pair of shoes. It enables that person to feel special because he or she owns something that is unique. They don't wear it, or eat it, or sleep in it. It doesn't serve any practical food, shelter, or clothing function. But it does raise the quality of life because it is a thing that speaks volumes about its owner without saying a word.

One thing it says is, "It's not a print, dear, it's a painting."


  1. Cathy, thanks for stopping by my blog and finding me through Pinterest... and I will put your blog on my side bar... this is a great post and a timely topic... with a wonderful story... the ramp is a gift of freedom and the original art is pure beauty...

    1. Great to hear from you! Thanks for adding my blog link to your sidebar. I love your work and writing. Glad I found you!
      Take care!