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  • Writer's pictureDr. S

Confessions of an Auctioneer

We at Tranquility Fine Arts are embarking on a new adventure. With much thought and excitement we have finalized our ability to participate in professional art auctions as an official auctioneer. Why is this a new adventure? Because it is the road less traveled where galleries are concerned. Most often art galleries do not offer this service or they outsource the service. Art auctions are essential to the art industry for both art buyers and collectors as well as art galleries and artists. Professional auctions are essential because participating in art auctions gives us the ability to have access to more Fine Arts to bring into the galleries. It also gives us the ability to help artists get their foot into the professional art world. As everyone knows, we offer professional Appraisal Services for arts and antiques. The first thing an appraiser will do is go to the secondary markets which are largely comprised of auction activity, to evaluate market trends for arts and antiques which have sold. If an artist has not been "fought over" amongst elite buyers and collectors, the artist may be considered unknown or without reputation. This could effect the value of the item.

Appraisals of artworks and antiques are very different from appraisals of property or jewelry. This process requires complex thinking and an eye for detail. In the professional art world many professionals who have the gift of an eye for detail exist. I am humbled to be deemed qualified and to be a member of the International Society of Appraisers.

This accomplishment naturally led us to the auction world. We are excited because gaining professional appraiser and auctioneer status will bring us and the artists we represent to a new level. Auctions will give us access to more art collectors as well as art buyers.

Art collectors are people who purchase art for the art’s value, typically considered an investment. They have a certain understanding or connoisseurship of art, and they have an eye for detail. Art collectors enjoy the gamble of trying to determine which art will maintain or gain value versus art that may decrease in value. Art collectors take a special interest in the artists’ reputation and portfolio. For these reasons, art collectors differ in many ways from art buyers. Art buyers generally purchase art for home décor purposes or sentimental value.

Although most people believe all art has value, and it does from an emotional sentimental or aesthetic point of view, the professional art world has shown this to be false. Artworks which maintain value or increases in value are more of a rarity.

Art collectors understand this and so they are looking for avenues to purchase art which has more validity to its foundation. The endorsement of art galleries and verified provenance information increases the validity of the foundation of the artwork. In contrast artists who sell their own works lack this pertinent piece of the puzzle. Most true art collectors do not purchase art from artists or common art festivals. Art collectors will go to the professional art auctions because auctions are like the world fair or World Olympics. The artwork and artist information as well as the provenance and market information is more likely to be valid.

Why are auctions important to aspiring artists? Once an artist is recognized in the professional art world, this recognition is what brings the artist and art value. Art value is based largely upon the artist's reputation and popularity as well as the artist’s skill set. These actually go hand in hand because if an artist does not have a higher level skill set, he or she is not likely to gain popularity. So adding this service to our gallery gives us access to the larger art world and allows us to assist our artists with increasing their professional reputation and potentially the value of their artworks.

Let’s discuss auctions in more depth. Please do not misunderstand art auctions. The word auction is defined as a public sale where goods or property is sold to the highest bidder. This could actually occur at a yard sale, BUT I am not talking about yard-sales or even eBay. While eBay could be credited as the founder for online auctions eBay is not considered the expert in most categories. EBay is definitely consumer driven and not value driven. Art auctions maintain a higher standard and one must be credentialed by the auction to both buy and sell. Ebay serves a great purpose and I certainly am not downplaying eBay. However it's important to understand that the professional art auctions are not eBay. Another online example is Etsy. Etsy is a large platform and many artists feel they have been successful at selling art on Etsy. However Etsy is not considered a professional platform and would not be considered to add value to the artwork. Most consumers purchase art on Etsy for simple home décor. After the consumer determines the art has no more use, it is highly likely the art will be disposed of in the trash. I would venture to say that this is a nightmare for any artist. We do not pour our heart and soul into creating something beautiful and expressing what we are trying to express just so someone can throw it away. All artists envision their art will speak to people long after it has been created and expect it will exchange hands from the first buyer to another.

Our Focus. Now I could be speaking for some artists and not all artists. This is my opinion and the excitement around the art auction is simple. It takes us to a new level, auctions will allow us to play with the big boys and girls. It is a new challenge and a new adventure. Anyone who knows me knows I love adventure and I enjoy a challenge. In every workshop I have taught, most blogs I have written, or professional opinion I have given I have quoted a supervisor that I had when I was a young adult who said to me, “ If you are not growing then you are dying!” And I have seen this in many professions and in many people throughout my life. People will hit a ceiling and be content with that ceiling and so they stop growing. This results in becoming stagnant over time and often they lose their career satisfaction or job satisfaction. They begin to feel more stressed. I have also seen people who simply refuse to work hard and earn growth. The same results typically occur. God made us to grow and evolve. We were never meant to live in a comfort zone or prosper in the “soft life”. So along with the excitement also comes the hard work which I have never feared. I am very aware that I am on new territory and I have much to learn. I feel like an infant in a giant world. However I know this is how a person grows.

We have launched our first auction and I am happy to say, “ so far so good.” I have pages of unanswered questions. And I accept that our first auction may not be a huge success. However we are already preparing for our second auction which we hope to launch in September of this year. And I expect round two will be successful. So as we begin this new adventure we are inviting others outside of the gallery who have artworks or antiques that they are having difficulty reselling or donating to consider the professional auction option and allowing us to represent their treasure. Professional auction is a great alternative to simply trying to sell a valuable artwork or antiques as an individual.

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