Millennials Becoming More Influential Contemporary Art Buyers, But They Want To Deal

Posted on: 17 June 2020

Though art sale transactions increased in 2019, the value of those sales has declined. One art market, though, held its value. A bright spot in art sales over the last two years has been the contemporary art market. Two commingled trends are driving demand for contemporary artists: more artwork is being sold online, and Millennials are becoming a growing force in the online art market.

Understanding the Millennial Art Buyer

The shift in themes in the artwork of contemporary artists reflects the millennial trend. Consider the popular landscapes peopled with iconographic Mennonites painted by Patricia Buckley Moss. Since the 2000s, P. Buckley Moss has been painting more mothers, ballerinas, horses, and dogs. The themes no doubt reflect the change in her own surroundings. Her own brood of seven children has grown up to become part of the millennial buying power influencing commercial art sales.

Millennials are the generation more purposely engaged in their society, and they tend to buy art that speaks to them and their experiences. 

Millennials are buying more art but seeking to enter the market at lower prices. They are, after all, trying to support the arts while running a household. Millennials are also being labeled as minimalists. And they seek ways to enter the art market at a lower price level rather than only buy one very expensive painting. 

How to Enter the Contemporary Art Market on the Cheap

Even as some top contemporary artists earn record prices for their work, new art collectors have many options for buying at lower prices. Many art collectors have started art collections by gambling on unknown artists. You could discover the next Bansky. Alternatively, buying lower-priced works of top contemporary artists is a way of diversifying your art portfolio investment risk. 

If you're a Millennial looking to buy artwork, consider going for limited editions, small paintings, or sketches and proofs. A limited-edition will be valued lower than the original work. The number of editions and works printed under the series will affect the value. The smaller the edition, the higher the value. If the number of works is large, in the hundreds, the artist likely did not produce all the pieces with their own hands. Smaller artworks are a way to affordably invest in artists with strong brand equity. Sketches of an artist are more likely to circulate post-humously. Proofs, developed while creating limited editions, can be worth more than the signed works in the edition.