If you're asking the question, I'm assuming you know what art is according to this website's point of view. And that you are producing some that fits that definition. Otherwise, it might be very difficult to understand one another in what follows 😉 With that out of the way, let me be intentionally obtuse by suggesting we might not agree on what collectible means ... This short article is about clearing that point. After that, let's see whether your work, or mine, is collectible or not.
As is often the case with soft facts, the word collectible has multiple meanings.
One is that the work (of art) is deemed interesting enough by collectors to be acquired and to find a place in their collection. This first dimension is the easiest to deal with and the most valuable. If you are creating photographs that both convey meaning/emotion and are well crafted, you are bound to be of interest to someone. Probably many someones. Finding your way into their collection is mainly a matter of access. Which is what galleries are for. Matching artist and collector interests is what galleries do.
Collectors may spend a lifetime assembling a body of (other people's) works that reflects an interest of theirs. That could be a printing technique (platinum, cyanotipe ... you're unlikely to find many people collecting inkjet prints 😉 ) It could be a theme, such as views of gardens by Capability Brown. Or a historical period, such as Marxist propaganda posters. Or a style. Or a subject. Or a spiritual aspiration.
There's 7 billions humans on the planet today. Some are still primates that evaluate their worth as beings based on their bank account, the size of their car or the number of guns they own. They'll want famous names on their wall. Some don't trust themselves, don't trust their own tastes and might not purchase your work even if they like it. It's a shame for both parties and an indictment of our education system. However, many of us have learned to think for ourselves and make educated decisions. If your photographs convey any kind of emotion or meaning, odds are many others will respond to them and will want to own one.
The second level of analysis is whether collectors will seek out you art. Obviously, that's what allows you to charge a lot more for your work.
And I'm not being deliberately nitpicky here. This is not the same as the first point, at a higher level. Your worldview matching someone else's, and your ability to convey your worldview through your work, are largely under your control. Being en vogue isn't. Not by a long shot. Success is contingent on luck. Probably to the tune of 99%. Contests throughout the world constantly reveal people of great talent and total anonymity. Putting the singing type into the hands of music producers is the goal of TV programs that we all know. But there are hords of super talented people that no one will ever hear of, everywhere on the planet. Many of them probably want it that way.
Jumping from one level to the next is no longer about talent, worldview or personal technique. It is all about meeting the right people, being aware of trends, market cycles, and a stubborn willingness to be disappointed over and over again. Eddie Cantor reportedly said: "It took me 20 years to be an overnight success". That's the spirit.
Then there's the third rung of the success ladder. You become investment as soon as there is a secondary market for your work.
If a collector can pass on one of your pieces to another and not lose on the transaction - "better" still, make a profit - then your brand becomes minted. Ironically, I find the jump from level 2 to level 3 far more interesting and feasible than the jump from level 1 to level 2. Possibly because I've never even attempted level two 😉 But, if you'll grant me the dignity 😉 it's more because step 3 is less a product of chance and more one of brand management. Something that has nothing to do with the sleaziness most people assimilate with marketing and is, on the contrary, deeply fascinating.
In fact, if you want to start a career with your art, I'd recommend focusing heavily on level 1, the meeting the right people aspect of level 2, and the brand management aspects of level 3.
These include artist statements that mean something, limited editions, being aware of the world around you and many other things there's no room to deal with here. But have a course coming on this very soon. Stay tuned 🙂
- Pascal Jappy. July 2019.