Buying local artwork and supporting local artists

Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been touching on a nerve among people fed up with seeing local manufacturing jobs disappear (all the while not doubt shopping at discount stores like Walmart full of Chinese made cheap goods), but how many stop to think about the decorative artwork they hang in their homes or offices?  A trip to Pier One can snag a nice painting made factory style in overseas but what about supporting living, breathing and often struggling American artists?  The people who contribute to the local economy and turn those downtrodden parts of the city into cool, hip, viable and soon to be yuppified livable newly discovered desirable neighborhoods?

Chinese painting factory
Inside a Chinese painting factory where 10,000 paintings cranked out from copies.

Buying from local artist is often just economically feasible as buying no-name art from national chain stores. Reproductions such as those offered here on Dogford Studios (artwork of fine artist and photographer Edward M. Fielding) is just as affordable as the mass produced artwork yet the money goes directly to supporting the artist instead of a string of middlemen with a sweatshop paycheck for the actual brush wielding robot.

Art Prints

Part of the pride of art ownership is knowing a bit about the artist as opposed to knowing that the art came from chair number 45 in factory building #3. When it comes to showing off your art collection its not the market value of the piece that is interesting, its your personally skill at collecting and personal curation of your private collection.

Having people over for a party and answering questions about your artwork like this “Oh I’m glad you liked that, it was on sale at Walmart.” might as well draw a zero on your forehead in the culture department. Your bean dip better be killer to make up for that one.

This actually happened to me at a party. I was at a high level hospital director’s house and was checking out her artwork in between trips to the Gin and Tonic bar. I figured, she travels, she has money, she goes to benefits etc. Her art must be local or at least original. I complemented her on a “painting” and asked where she got it. Expecting a bit of a story behind the piece and maybe the artist. “Oh yeah, isn’t that neat. I saw it at Pier One.” Yikes! She knew I was an artist who sells their artwork for a living. Just what I want to hear, Chinese factory art hanging in the home of someone who could afford the real deal. This is someone who spends top dollar on the top gin brands, drives a sexy German sports car and whose bonuses equal a year of my son’s college tuition.

It really doesn’t take much more effort or money to buy from real artists. You can buy online or at craft fairs, art fairs, local galleries or direct from the artist on a site like this. The reward is the satisfaction of getting something few other people have discovered. Instead of someone walking in the door and saying “oh I have that.” or worse “I had that Ansel Adams poster back in the 80s”, you can show off something unique, something not found in the local Mostly Posters.

Truth be told this actually happened to me. On an Ikea buying spree I picked up a framed Picasso drawing reproduction and hung it in the entry way. Our new neighbor comes over to introduce themselves and one of the first things he said was “Oh. We have that too.”

I joked “It’s the original.” (which in our neighborhood could be true, we have some celebrities living in this town.)

He was taken aback for just a second before joke hit him but later the piece ended up in the basement and was replaced by one of my own works. Its same danger when you redecorate with everything from Home Depot. You are bound to find someone who comes over and can spot all of the fixures or tile from Home Depot. I can do it myself. “Nice tile. We put that in the bathroom of our condo back in 1992.”

Bottomline – shop local, support your artist neighbors and enjoy art collecting with a sense of individuality.