Buying Affordable Contemporary Art, But Which Artist is Most Likely to Increase in Value?

If you are looking to buy a picture by a Contemporary artist, but want a less expensive work than a Picasso, or an Andy Warholl, yet at the same time you hope your chosen artist might well be discovered big time and prove that you made a great investment.

Then what should you be looking for?

Whilst I am not making any claims to be any kind of expert, I have been a keen collector for many years of various art forms and antiques (that mostly have increased greatly in value) and so I hope that sharing my instincts will be of some help to you.  Obviously, just in case the picture you end up choosing doesn’t jump up in value, it is most important that you really like your choice, as you will be living with it.

In times when currencies are at risk and the stock market fails to do well, the chances of success (by choosing the right artist) are far better than those with the Lottery!

Your choice of picture says something about you, so what sort of picture should you look for?   Here are a couple of suggestions of how to begin the selection process: –

  • Look for something artistic that you find attractive and beautiful, preferably a picture you feel sure your friends will admire and comment on.
  • It is best to choose an inspiring picture, that makes a statement, or that has something fascinating about it.

I suggest you be very wary of all the hype, art critics and so-called experts who claim to know everything.  So how should you consider your choice of artist, if you want to have the best chance of your artist becoming suddenly famous and priceless?   To have any such chance of succeeding your artist: –

  • Needs to have developed a recognisable different style, or show exceptional original creativity.
  • Should have already created a reasonable number of works that demonstrate consistent originality.
  • Should already have received some recognition, from having held several important one-man exhibitions and received already some worthwhile press, or write-ups.

In the past the artists that eventually become the most sought after, are those that created their own style, where they were the first to do something original, or different, and they made use of it consistently to best advantage.

Of the painters, I am favouring Sir Bernard Fleetwood Walker R.A. because he has a style of his own that has not yet been fully appreciated.  My personal view is Sir William Russell Flint R.A. painted wonderful watercolours and although they are already highly valued, I still think they will continue to increase in value.

I am not aware of any really great changes in painting that are sure of success.   There are some who make use of spray paints and I have seen a few unusual textures where cement and sand have been used mixed with the paints.  There are pictures created in three dimensions by layering cut out prints, stuck closely on top of each other, there are small boxed frames filled with carefully chosen objects as pictures, there are paintings embellished with Swarovski crystals, or small mirrors and other materials, also there have been mixed media pictures making use of all sorts of materials to form an image.   But although different, I do not see many of these as ever being considered as great art works, it is really a matter of hunting for only the most exceptional examples, if any of these techniques appeal to you.

But the most dramatic and exciting changes have been with photography.  Photography is now a valued art form, as are limited edition prints (providing the edition number is not too large – should be well under 50). But what is new?

Thanks to digital imaging there are now computer-generated pictures, such as ‘fractals’.  But as the computer made them, rather than the artist, I doubt that they will ever be highly valued.  With computer manipulation, mixed blended images that were never possible before, can now be created.  These should be studied.

I have seen some graffiti light painting pictures that are rather different.  The new computer HDR (high dynamic range) images that provide a much greater range of definition at different light intensity levels are also impressive and can be very atmospheric.

But what matters most, is the end result, it is the picture that counts, far more than the technique!

Having said that, certain pictures could only be achieved because of the technique.  As an example, I would like to draw your attention to my own works John Neville Cohen (as I would prefer to sell my pictures, for good prices whilst I am still alive).  Many photographers have used the name ‘Painting with Light’ but the pictures I created by photographing projected images that have been projected on to other objects, are known more appropriately as ‘Painting with Light’.  Not yet fully appreciated, but this is one of the most interesting purely photographic techniques, that is unique.  I believe once seen you will agree that my pictures also meet all the criteria mentioned.

Good Luck with your hunt, hoping you find a winner.

The author has been a very keen Asian antique collector for many years helping to create ‘The Cohen Collection’ but he is also an artist.  For much more information with lots of photographs see his limited editions of only 8 of each picture (up to 60” or 150cm longest side!) at: –

You can also be kept informed on John N. Cohen’s ‘Painting with Light’ Facebook Fan page


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