Myth Number 1: You Can’t Afford To Buy Art.
When Kate Bridges turned 30, she decided it was time to buy a work of art she had spied every day for weeks.
Like many of us: “I had been buying clothes and bags and going on holidays – spending my salary like water on stuff that never held its value – since I’d started working as a graphic designer at 22,” says the former art student.
“But I realised not long after I got engaged that it was time to start making proper investments. As art was my first love, I looked into buying a beautiful contemporary portrait I’d seen when walking past a neighbourhood gallery on the way to work.”
But when she finally made the enquiry, the painting was double what Kate could afford in a one-off purchase.
“It was a real shame. I knew the artist was up and coming and the piece would be a fantastic investment,” she says. “But what could I do?”
Two days later, she came across a flyer on Art Money when waiting in a coffee shop. That was when the penny dropped.
Michael Schiavoni has a similar story. A corporate lawyer, Michael was burnt out at the age of 35. Both his parents had passed away within 12 months of each other and his long-term relationship had broken down six months after his mother died.
“I quit my job and started working in a café down the road from my home in Paddington,” says the now 40-year-old. “I had more time to look around me and notice small things in the area I’d never had the head space to look at.”
Within months, Michael had thrown out most of the items in his home that didn’t bring him any happiness, in a similar vein to the immensely popular book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (Vermilion). “I then had this long white wall in my terrace just begging for some kind of art work,” he says. “But I’d given up my legal salary, paid off most of my mortgage and was now living on a much smaller income.”
Still, Michael had spied a large photograph in a gallery around the corner from his home. He stopped to look at it every morning and every afternoon for two weeks. One day, the owner came out and talked to him about it.
“He must’ve seen me staring at it,” he says, “so he asked if I was interested. I said I was, but that the timing was wrong. That was when he told me about Art Money.”
Art Money is a relatively new concept, having launched in April 2015, but since then, hundreds of people like Kate and Michael have used the service – and many are already repeat users.
So how does it work? At its core, Art Money provides interest free loans to buy art (and only art) at participating galleries. Loans are available from $750-$20,000. Payments are spread over 10 equal monthly payments. After you pay a 10 per cent deposit, you can take the artwork home and pay the remainder over nine months, interest free. So for example, a piece that is $1250 would cost you $125 per month over 10 months (with the first payment being the deposit).
For those wondering about how they can do the interest free part – participating galleries pay Art Money an equivalent to the standard interest charge that would otherwise be paid on your loan.
Paul Becker, the Founder and CEO of Art Money, says the business idea came from frustration that art was too hard to buy.
“I wanted to make it easier and more affordable,” says Becker in an interview with .M Contemporary.
“My business 10 Group has been creating ways to increase engagement with art for 25 years through publishing and events. People really do want to engage with and buy art, but sometimes they feel like they don’t quite know how/where/who.”
Paying upfront, he adds, is one of the barriers.
“So I thought I could do something about that.” After all, every other industry has worked how to do finance. Why not art?
Art, he concedes, can be a daunting buying prospect for many. They believe they can’t afford it because it has to be very expensive to be a worthwhile purchase.
But this is where Art Money hopes to break down those barriers. It allows a diverse range of people to have access to various styles and prices of art. This simultaneously supports the artistic community.
People taking advantage of Art Money range from “first time buyers to existing collectors. And across the demographics. Around 25 per cent are buying their first work of art – so we are growing the market”.
Around half are regular collectors, he adds.
“Art Money gives them the ability to extend their budget and feel more responsible about the purchase. Paying off over 10 months is a more considered way to buy art – both emotionally and financially – and you get to take it home and enjoy it from day one.”
Currently, there are more than 120 galleries participating all over Australia.
For Kate, that dreamy portrait she now wakes up to every day makes her realise it was money well spent. “I’ve only got one more payment to make and the piece is paid off,” she says. “For once, I’ve bought something I know will retain its value and bring me plenty of happiness for a long time.”