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How to Buy Art

With the gift-giving season upon us, consider giving the gift of art. A piece of art is unique, thoughtful, and might actually appreciate with time. But, for the novice, purchasing art is an intimidating process. So we asked Todd Mazer, who provides a lens into the art world through his photography and writing, how best to approach purchasing a piece of fine art.

Todd Mazer
Todd Mazer

1. As a fine art photographer, filmmaker, and writer whose subjects are frequently works of art or the artists themselves, you clearly have a love and understanding of art today. So why do you think it’s important for people to own art? 

TM: From a great deal of experience, I can say that owning art will make your life richer and spark creativity. There is nothing more inspiring than being surrounded by original ideas that began on a blank canvas. It is the perfect reminder that this world is what we make of it. I also think that is a great message to pass down. 

2. What questions should a potential buyer ask an art advisor before working with them? 

TM: As many as possible, I think the best art experience is one that is educational, honest, and exciting. It’s also important for a buyer to establish that the art advisor they are working with has unique access, sensibilities, and passion for their goals. 

From left, Mujer Fatale by Shepard Fairey, Unfolding Season by Augustine Kofie, and Guns and Roses by Shepard Fairey from Composure: A Street Art Narrative curated by Todd Mazer at Pellas Gallery
From left, Mujer Fatale by Shepard Fairey, Unfolding Season by Augustine Kofie, and Guns and Roses by Shepard Fairey from Composure: A Street Art Narrative curated by Todd Mazer at Pellas Gallery

3. What questions should a potential buyers ask themselves before making an art investment?

TM: Can I live without this? Is this the best available work by this artist? How will this piece interact with my space, my guests, and my collection? 

4. Are there any artists/genres that you think will pay off in the future? For example, is there an “impressionist-type” era we just don’t have the hindsight to see yet?

TM: So far, it’s all paid off. It’s not about volume for me; it’s about sound decisions, sparks of inspiration, and knowing when to trust your gut when you see a good thing. It’s been quite a ride watching the street art movement flourish, and NFT’s still have a lot of growing up to do, but at the end of the day, the greatest teacher for me has been walking into an artist’s studio and finding how deeply they connect to their process. If the artist is creating from a genuine place, they have it in them to make something timeless, and there will always be a place for that. 

A close-up detail of a work by Hueman on translucent organza.
Close-up detail of a work by Hueman on translucent organza.

5. If you could buy any work created throughout art history, what would it be and why? 

TM: I have a great spot where I could hang “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.” I think we all stand on the edge of the cliff, asking ourselves should we enjoy the view and then turn back or have gone too far not to keep going. 6. What fun projects are you currently working on, and what can we expect from you in the future? There is a lot of artwork ahead, and I mean that in every way possible. I’m very excited about some private collections I’m helping build. I’m looking forward to bringing more public art to Boston, and there is a film in the works too. 

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818 by Caspar David Friedrich.
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818 by Caspar David Friedrich.

For more of Todd’s insight and to view his works, head to his website stillrhythm.com

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This article originally appeared in The Mazer Group’s Luxury Listings Newsletter. For more stories like this and great real estate eye candy, subscribe to [email protected]m

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