Layaway Days: Art collecting on a Budget
When I decided to reach out to Aaron Nagel for an interview, I was slightly nervous. Aaron and I have only spoken via social media on a handful of occasions, but he knows that I collect his work. The response I received was even better than I could have imagined. Not only did Aaron agree to answer a few questions, he was also extremely receptive to the site’s objective.
Before entering the art world, Aaron was a musician in the Bay Area band, Link 80. Link 80 was signed to Mike Park’s ‘Asian Man Records’, which has promoted several artists in the punk/ska scene including: The Lawrence Arms, The Alkaline Trio, Sundowner, Slapstick, and The Broadways. Aaron has since become widely lauded as a figurative painter, primarily using oils to create his paintings. Nagel has regularly expressed his affinity for the female form and recognizes the power women hold, which he often expresses through religious iconography. If you are interested in Aaron’s work, you can find him on the usual social media channels. His prints are extremely reasonably priced and can be found in his online store.
1) Have you found social media has introduced new collectors to your work and art collecting in general?
I have. I can't be sure how many people have bought my work directly via exposure from Social Media, but I do know that with Instagram in particular, my "reach" is a lot better than it's ever been. Social Media is a great tool for exposing people to art and artists they may not have otherwise seen. I've personally discovered a ton of great artists via Instagram. It's pretty amazing that seeing art in what's probably the least ideal manner; digitally on a tiny tiny screen, is still so effective.
2) Do you have any advice for new art collectors or individuals who are contemplating entering the hobby?
Collect what you have to have, without regard for anything else. It's easier said than done, but if you can put aside cost, prestige, publicity...all of that, you're going to be better off in the long run. It's of course comforting that a big purchase may turn out to be an actual investment, but you can't count on it, so make sure you love it even if the artist decides to become an auto mechanic. That all said, when you've spent some time collecting and getting a feel for what you like and what the market and industry is in general, by all means, try to be strategic if you can afford it.
3) Why is it important to make your art affordable to individuals from all backgrounds?
Most artists couldn't even afford their own work at market prices, so the desire to collect art one can't afford isn't something necessarily unique to collectors of a certain background. That said, most artists I know, regardless of their budget, go out of their way to collect art from their peers. Supporting art in general is hugely important; to foster further appreciation of art, to support artists you think are doing great work, to encourage the pursuit of beauty in general. The more people that can collect, the better -- it benefits literally everybody in the long run.
4) Was ‘Verity’ your first hand-embellished print? Would you consider doing more of them?
It was. I had thought in the past that my paintings wouldn't really benefit from an embellishment and I'm always weary of gimmicks, especially to make sales -- but in the case of "Verity", I really thought the prints would benefit from a little added texture. The original painting is pretty precise, adding a bit of looseness as an embellishment worked surprisingly well. I would definitely consider doing more, but only if the piece really called for it.
5) I read an interview where you stated Gavin Castleton is an artist everyone should know. Can you recommend any contemporary painters?
I can recommend tons, but I'm always weary of naming the usual heavy hitters that everybody on the Internets already knows. One guy I’ve been into a lot recently is Mike Dorsey. Dorsey is an artist not a lot of art people know as he's primarily a tattooer (or at least he comes from that world). He does Japanese-style watercolor and ink paintings with modern themes. They have a super authentic vibe and are just so well done. I've been trying to buy one from him forever.
6) What can we expect from Aaron Nagel, in the future?
I have a solo show in New York at Lyons Weir Gallery opening in January. It will be my first solo in almost 3 years. I've been exploring some new themes and just really trying to get better technically. Also, I just started working on a book project, so I'm very much looking forward to getting further along with that and hopefully having it available soon!