The street art market offers many affordable entry points for first time collectors and opportunities for those looking for something different. Whilst it can be daunting to navigate the world of street art, with a few helpful tips, you'll be able to start collecting with confidence.
Make sure what you’re buying is authentic
Buyer beware: the market for street art is flooded with imitations, and many street artists use recognisable motifs in their works which forgers will attempt to copy.
In an attempt to curb fakes, many street artists have created authenticating bodies tasked with identifying legitimate works. In 2008, street artist Banksy set up Pest Control - an official body which verifies any works by the artist presented for sale, and provides an accompanying Pest Control Certificate. Similarly, artist Stik set up Squarity to authenticate works and prevent fakes circulating the market.
The secondary market for urban art is strong, with most auction houses and notable art galleries - such as Maddox - are often in touch with artist’s representatives to ensure that any works which come to market are legitimate. If a piece has caught your eye, consult a specialist, such as one of our advisors, to ensure your purchasing a legitimate piece.
Familiarise yourself with running patterns and themes
Many street artists have created recognisable motifs which appear throughout their work, becoming an essential part of their visual vocabulary. Banksy, for example, often features a rat in his politically charged designs, which have adorned everything from underground trains, to walls and even toilets. Keith Haring's male figure has also become iconic, while Basquiat is known for works that combine symbols such as a crown, with short bursts of scrawled text.
Consider the condition of the artwork
The condition of street art can vary enormously depending on how it was created. Works that first appeared in public spaces outdoors can require a considerable degree of restoration if they are later sold as collectors’ pieces – a phenomenon which is not unheard of. The artist Stik will return to touch up works created in public spaces, recognising that their condition can diminish over time, indeed KAWS's Bus Stop works which are made out of advertisements taken from the streets, are found and then reworked on in the studio.
Pieces known as ‘studio works’ – which are created for domestic settings – may still require some degree of conservation, depending on the medium and techniques used. When buying a piece, take time to consider its condition and ask about any conservation needs; as with any artwork, condition can impact monetary value.
Monitor the market for street art
Within the last few years, even the last few weeks there has been constant activity within the art market, in particular with street art.
Arguably the most important urban artist, Banksy’s politically inspired work is largely responsible for the surge in street and urban art. His abundance of works stretching over a variety of mediums make his pieces accessible and extremely valuable. There is value to be had at both ends of the spectrum, his Di-faced Tenner has been sold for as little as £2,000 whereas as of recent his Girl with Balloon which is regarded as one of his most notable works sold for £791,250, exceeding its estimate of £350,000. For any collector, the Banksy market is one of the fastest growing in the industry; a Banksy work represents a sound investment in an established artist in the growing urban art genre.
French artist, Invader, took over Marseille this summer installing over 80 unique pieces throughout the city. He began ‘invading’ public places in the late 90s and by 2011 there was over 1000 pieces on public display. As such, his dedication and originality has brought him an army of fans over the years and an increase in art collectors investing in his works.