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How to Invest in Art with SINGULART Curator Marion Sailhen

Marion Sailhen

Knowing how and where to start an art collection is no easy feat. With so many options available, making the decision between investing in a painting or a sculpture, or in contemporary art or modern art can feel like a daunting task! But it is a task well worth the effort, often offering the opportunity to invest and elevate your interiors simultaneously.

Although it might feel as if you need a History of Art degree to dive into the intricacies of the art world, at SINGULART we believe that investing in art is an option for everyone and our curator Marion Sailhen is here to help!

Read on to discover her top tips on how to spot an investable artist and what to do when you find an artwork you love…

1. When we talk about the financial aspects of purchasing art that isn’t purely decorative but partly an investment acquisition, is there a price band that you have in mind?

I think it always depends. Even when we talk about investment, what we expect from each individual investment might differ greatly. We have to ask, is it a safe investment, where you buy a piece for an amount, for example €10,000 with the surety of making that money back if you re-sell in 5-10 years? Or is it a higher risk but higher reward investment, like betting on an artist’s career, where you buy a piece for €5,000 – €10,000 but hope to resell for €100,000 in ten years?

So there’s two different ways of talking about investing in art. From a more financial perspective, a good amount to invest in the global art market, not only in the primary market, is around €20,000 because with this amount you are likely to see good increase in profit (around 9% more or less each year). With very big investments, such as €100,000, you can expect to see around 15% profit.

But you don’t need to invest 20k for it to be a good investment! You can definitely start by investing between €900-€2,000. This can be a great investment because the artist’s career might either remain stable or it could be fast growing, both of which make an investment promising.

2. But how do you find an emerging artist to invest in? Where can we check to see if an artwork is investable? Are there any tricks of the trade?

Yes, always. There are some. When you buy an artwork, it depends on the artist, but also on the artwork itself. Let’s start with the artist first. You have to decide if you want to buy from a contemporary artist/living artist or modern art, if you have 100K to spend. 

Something important to note is that the modern art market is more old-school, and with all the new museums that have opened in the last ten years, such as in China, a huge chunk of the modern art market has been taken over by establishments with a lot of money, buying up the old masters and famed modern artists. So if you are a private collector, I don’t think modern art will make a good investment because the prices are already very high. However, the contemporary art market is cheaper, open and full of opportunity for the simple reason that a lot of the leading artists are continually producing, so there is more art on offer. 

But how do you know if your artist is a good one or not? The most important thing, of course, is the artist’s experience. The first thing you should check is the artist’s CV, which should be available on their website. If there is no information available, don’t pursue this artist further! 

On SINGULART, for example, all of our artists have this information readily available. We also highlight the information about our artists that we think is important for our users to know, such as if the artists has international recognition, which is a super important consideration when thinking of investing, or information that simplifies our collectors searches, such as our Emerging Artist or Invest-In badges. 

3. So now that we have checked the background of our artist and found a piece we like and want to buy, how do you know if it’s worth the price?

This is always a complicated matter because you need some comparison values. The first thing is to check the prices of artists with a similar CV. Is there a big difference between how much they charge per artwork and your chosen artist? Its also useful to refer to digital art galleries that you trust are selling artworks at the right price. If you go directly to an artist, you never know if they will price their artworks fairly. But a reputable institution will make it their aim to verify and control the prices at which they sell their artworks. Or if you want to do the research yourself, and you see that the artist has sold 30 artworks that year all for a similar price, you know that the cost of the artwork is correct.

Of course there are other considerations which affect price, like the size of the artwork, the time invested by the artist, the techniques used and the chosen material. For example, an oil and painting will often be more expensive than an acrylic because it requires a lot more time and skill to create the finished artwork.

4. Is it better to purchase a highly technical artwork, such as a sculpture or oil painting? Are there any techniques which are particularly popular right now?

If you are hesitating between a painting, a work on paper, a photograph or a sculpture for you investment, go for a painting. When investing, this is a better choice. When you talk about investment, the aim is to resell, and reselling paintings on canvas is easier than with other techniques. If you check the global art market, you will see that in 2021, paintings consisted of more than 70% of sales, whereas photography was only around 2%. So you can see that paintings are a safer, and therefore popular, investment choice.

5. Are there artworks by famous artists that you think have sold for a crazy amount?

Yes! I worked for six years in auction houses, where I saw some crazy prices! The contemporary art market has boomed since the 2000s, not necessarily in terms of the number of pieces sold, but the prices that these pieces are sold. And we always have access to the data when an artwork sale breaks records.

When I see the prices of some of these artworks, especially, for example, pieces by Jeff Koons, I honestly cannot tell you if they are being valued correctly because it’s mainly based on speculation. It’s like a financial bubble. And honestly, maybe only 1% of the global population of both artists and collectors or dealers are involved in this super small sub-category of the art world. These numbers are generally generated by one crazy collector buying the artwork of an equally crazy artist.

These cases can often create a misconception about the art market and scare off would-be art collectors and investors who do not feel like they have enough money to enter into this world, which is a shame, as it is totally not the case.

6. Do you think it is a good idea to check-out physical galleries, or is it safe to buy everything online?

This is a good question, and I think it depends on each person. Working for SINGULART, I would argue that the online market is very secure. On SINGULART, for example, we have an amazing art advisory service that provides more support than is available in many physical galleries. Our art advisors can answer any questions that you have about interior design, investment options, and take into consideration any special requests that you have, such as dimension, or color-palette. We also have tools to show you what the piece will look like in your interior. Even if you don’t like your purchased piece, you have 14 days to return it to us, free of charge! This way, you have the time to find an artwork not only to invest in but one that you’ll love displaying in your home for many years to come.

Thank you Marion for sharing these tips with us!

Start your art collection today with our Invest-In artists!