The Decorative Market Vs. The Fine Art Market: What You Need to Know, Pt.1

Photo caption: Decorative art follows color and design trends and is meant to match the decor of a room. Image by Ferenc Keresi from Pixabay.

Learning how to become a professional artist means learning how to navigate the different art markets that would be appropriate for your art and for your goals as an artist. 

Although much of the Mastery Program, which is the Milan Art Institute’s professional-level training program, focuses on developing your voice as an artist, it also includes instruction on working in the various art markets. 

The decorative market can be a lucrative and satisfying one for artists. Both Elli and John Milan worked for many years in the decorative market, and it’s the market where they sold a majority of the 10,000 paintings they’ve sold in their working life.

This blog post highlights some key points that Elli and Dimitra Milan, as well as Jake Dunn, made in a recent MAI podcast about the fine art market versus the decorative market. Below, is part one of a written excerpt of that podcast. 

Jake: So, let’s start off by saying what is the decorative market?

Elli: In the traditional sense, the decorative market tends to be just as it sounds. It’s decor-driven versus being about the brand of a particular artist. So the collectible market or the fine art market is more about that individual artist, their style, their voice, and what it is they have to say.

And [as a collector] you’re sort of sticking to and following that artist throughout their life, seeing how they evolve as an artist, collecting them. Hopefully, your investment in them grows over time, and they’re committed as a fine artist throughout their life.

In the decor market, it has been traditionally more about decorating or interior decorating. It’s all about the space. And so the artist is creating an object of beauty or an object of decor for that space. It’s in context of all of the other objects in that room.

It could have to do with the style of that room, whether it’s a contemporary style or a traditional style or a rustic style or whatever, minimalist…

Then, the art is going to complement or go with that somehow. And be utilized as a piece of decor, and the whole focus is to create an atmosphere or an ambiance in that room or that space.

And it can be commercial. You know, restaurants, lobbies of hotels, healthcare facilities… Any commercial space or corporate space and then, also, the home. 

And then you have to think about which room. Is it sort of an over-the-couch living room piece? Is it a fireplace piece? Is it an entryway piece? Is it a bathroom piece? Is it a den piece? 

You know, where in the house is it going? That’s going to determine the size it’s painted in. It’s going to determine a lot of things, like the subject matter. It’s fitting in with how that person might be decorating. 

Jake: What is the difference between prints and decorative art, aside from the piece being original or not? Would the prints be more decorative?

Elli: I think if the print follows the idea that it’s decorating a space and so you’re taking into account the color that’s in that room, other pieces of furniture or decor that’s in that, and you’re buying it not necessarily because of what it means to you and how it makes you feel when you see it and how it speaks. It’s more about how it looks.

Dimitra: And I think with decorative art, it’s super trendy and it always goes with the trends. And people who buy that type of art, and they decorate with that stuff, and they don’t buy original art…They see art differently. They just see it as a decoration. Then, I think that they go through those pieces really quickly. 

And with every season or with the new year or with the new trends, they’re just going to replace it with newer stuff. Every time they want to redecorate, they’re going to get more of those pieces.

Video caption: Can’t wait for part two to come out? Then, watch the whole podcast about the decorative art market here!

Final Thoughts on Part One of the Decorative Market

No doubt about it. Artists who work in the decorative market open many doors for themselves professionally. This market allows them to appeal to the masses. 

It also offers them a great deal of artistic freedom, because artists who work in this market are often asked to work in many different styles, to follow trends and to create art that would fit in a variety of rooms in the home. 

Catch part two of this blog post here. 

Get more great art-related content by trying out a free membership to the Milan Art Institute’s social learning network, Art Club. You’ll get tips that will help you develop your voice and style as an artist, as well as advice on how to take your professional art career to the next level. 

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