When our parents or grandparents wanted to put art on their walls, they had a few options. They could buy from an artist directly, they could buy from a gallery, or they could patch together an assortment of family photographs, paintings from friends and relatives, and found or folk art. If someone today wants to put art on their walls, the options are nearly limitless. The accessibility of home décor is astounding. From websites to Target and IKEA to home furnishing stores, you can buy mass-produced pieces masquerading as art at every turn. You do not have to think much about having an emotional connection, supporting artists, or building a meaningful and potentially valuable art collection. Art is presented as décor. You find it next to the throw pillows and picture frames. You buy it for a splash of color and to make a room cozy. Art is an afterthought.

This is a sad state of affairs that, if continued, will not end well for artists trying to make significant contributions to the art world. If value is not placed on originality, if we do not cherish the unique and authentic, we will let art fail.

But all hope is not lost. The generations of today have an unprecedented curiosity and desire for original experiences. We care about the things in our world. We are foodies and we take classes to learn about wine. Our coffee needs to be roasted in a particular way and freshly ground moments before brewing. We want to be the first of our friends to know about the next new thing. Let’s make that next new thing art.

Real art. Original art. Art that is one of a kind or in a limited edition (500 is not limited. . . be one of a few to own something) and signed by the artist.

If you stopped someone who was about to buy a mass-produced canvas art piece at Z Gallery or Urban Outfitters and said, “Wouldn’t you rather spend the same money and buy something original? Wouldn’t you rather find something that you connected with and knew the story of? Wouldn’t you like to buy a piece of art that has value, both monetarily and to you personally?” most people would stop and say that yes, of course they would. They just had not thought about it like that before.

So think about it. You do not need to have thousands of dollars in your art budget or even hundreds. Being a collector just means buying an original piece and being thoughtful about that choice. There are a hundred million pieces of art that will match your throw pillows – buy one that matters to you.