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How Art Becomes Profitable

The starving artist is such a common phenomena that it is almost an archetype. The majority of artists make little or no money from their craft and rely on other skills to survive. For those who devote their entire lives to their passion, many live in poverty and die in it too but a select few have attained wealth from their abilities, if only in posterity. Here in this essay we will discuss some of the factors which lead to art become profitable.

Scarcity and Originality

According to the basic laws of economics, if something is in short supply chances are it will cost more than if it were abundant. When it comes to artwork, this is often true. If the piece is like nothing the critics have seen before it will catch their eyes and it can be sold for a little bit more. This type of originality is difficult to achieve though.


This can make even the most boring and unoriginal piece by anyone with little or no talent or reputation a high selling item. This merely refers to who owned the piece in the past. If there is evidence that someone who is well loved once owned a piece, it gains some value just by that association.


There are far too many cases where someone with almost no talent manages to become immensely popular due to a highly successful public relations firm. This is also quite common in the music industry. Once the artist’s name has been established, anything they make or even touch can fetch a good price.


The older a piece is, the easier it is to mark up its value. Neanderthal pottery is prized not for its beauty but because it has survived for centuries intact.

Death of the Artist

Many collectors have found themselves extremely wealthy simply because the artist has passed on unexpectedly. To some extent this is because of scarcity again. A deceased artist will never work again so only what is already in existence can ever be sold. At times, the circumstances of the artist’s death may add to his or her mystique. People may romanticize them and their stories benefit from a hint of tragedy.

While these factors can influence the wealth of an artist, many others can combine to keep him or her in poverty. It can even be as simple as being lucky or unlucky.

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