worth their weight in gold: young australian artists to invest in right now

How to buy art as a regular, not super rich, person.

by Jessie French
08 July 2016, 1:50am

Ry David Bradley, Surveillance Portals, London

With their ability to creatively respond to, interpret and positively disrupt contemporary culture, artists have always been a vital part of the community. Through their practise they have the capacity to open up dialogues and inspire conversation while creating work that excites, intrigues, delights, disgusts or possibly even frightens us. They also make beautiful things to hang on the wall, that's cool too. 

Despite struggles with funding, Australia is lucky to have a strong arts scene with supportive galleries across the spectrum hosting regular exhibitions full of great art. For most of us though, the majority of this art is out of our price range and consequently our grasp. But the artists you can't afford now once sold their work for a fraction of the current price to savvy art lovers who saw their potential. With this in mind we're shouting out some of our favourite young artists, who we predict will be the art stars of the future. Why not take some Keynesian action — buy art you love to support the scene, and hopefully see your investment grow in value over the years.

The first rule of buying art is that you should choose work that resonates with you personally. If you find something that does this and it's by an artist whose work escalates in value, it's win-win. For instance, if you'd bought a Tracey Moffatt print, Brendan Huntley sculpture or Fiona Hall piece ten years ago you'd sitting on a little gold mine now. 

While i-D has previously acknowledged that a Chanel Flap bag is likely to give you a greater percentage return on your investment than an apartment, with its value increasing by more than seventy percent over the past six years, investment experts predict a 10 percent return annually on collectable artwork. But this isn't taking into account rare cases where an artwork may double or triple in value over a year. While our parents sunk their money into a volatile share market, we've witnessed a succession of economic disasters like the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s, the 2008 financial crisis, the Chinese stock market crash and Brexit, which has led our generation to understand the merits of a range of alternative investments. Buying art you think is important and can enjoy IRL while you support artists and make your money grow really is a pretty sweet deal.

Before you pull out your wallets, there are a few practicalities to consider: It's important to familiarise yourself with your city's art scene and get a sense of the work available. Make sure you're regularly visiting shows at a range of artist-run spaces, government funded and private galleries. Take the time to also travel to art fairs like Spring 1883 and Sydney Contemporary. Keep an eye out for fundraising exhibitions, they offer good opportunities to purchase smaller, more affordable works by established artists. Plus they directly support local art organisations, which is always a bonus.

If you are interested in work by a particular artist, get in touch with the gallery that represents them, explain your price range and request to be kept updated on any available works within your budget.

To give you a head start, here are some local rising art starts on i-D's radar at the moment. Happy shopping!

Caleb Shea exhibition at Schoolhouse Studios

Caleb Shea makes geometric, abstract sculptures and paintings would brighten any space.

Dan Arps, Dawn, collage on found poster 55.5 × 76.5 × 3.5 cm, 2008. Image courtesy of Minerva,

New Zealander Dan Arps explores his ideas across mediums including painting, sculpture, collage, digital prints and more.

Jonny Niesche, Peacock's tail, voile, steel and autopaint 110 × 120 × 1.5cm, 2016. Image courtesy of Minerva,

Johnny Niesche is an artist currently living in Sydney whose bold and precise works play with colour and dimension.

Marian Tubbs, Open Model For An Affective Landscape, Virtual Becomes Real When Necessary, video, sound, colour, 5 minutes and 39 seconds. Image courtesy of Minerva,

Marian Tubbs combines colour, texture and materials to form unlikely but beautiful works. 

Anthea Behm, I know a soul, silver gelatin black and white photo drawing 8 x 10", 2016. Image courtesy of Minerva,
Currently based in the US, Anthea Behm is a visual artist working between video, performance and photography.

Isadora Vaughan, Handling, from her current exhibition 'Cunievoi' at Station Gallery

Isadora Vaughan's unusual work with mud, soil and rocks is fascinatingly tactile and rich. 

Jahnne Pasco White, wall painting with plastic, paper, cardboard and plaster, 6x6m, Leipzig, Germany 2016

Favouring distinctively large-scale pieces, Jahnne Pasco White works in paper, fabric and various other materials. 

James Eisen, Protective Pieces, 2013

VCA graduate James Eisen experiments with unlikely materials and film to comment on his environment.

Joshua Petherick, Ear with Tinnitus (ii), polyurethane resin, seashell, rare earth magnet 6.5 × 10.5 cm, 2016. Image courtesy of Minerva,

Melbourne based artist and illustrator Joshua Petherick's work has been shown in galleries around Australia, the Tate Modern in London and Colette in Paris.

Kate Meakin, Score, steel dish racks, cow horn bangles, 2015

Kate Meakin's beautiful back catalogue of work is underscored by a curious focus on fashion.

Nicola Smith, Ariane at the Museum, 2016 oil on Belgian linen 45x74.7cm. Image courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery

Sydney's Nicola Smith's oil paintings are largely bases on film stills.

Ry David Bradley, Unvalley Valley, London

Ry David Bradley is a VCA graduate whose paintings harness colour and movement and continue to evolve as his talent is explored.

Thomas Jeppe, Neo Lad, Prague Czech Republic, 2016

Thomas Jeppe is a VCA graduate whose work engages multiple traditions of art production to form a diverse and internationally lauded creative catalogue.

Ruth O'Leary, Widows Walk, 2016

Ruth O'Leary is a Melbourne based artist whose work combines performance, video, painting and drawing installation to examine, among other things, female identity.

Helen Johnston, Slow Learners, 2015. Installation view

Helen Johnson is a talented painter who applies various techniques to create works that are rich in meaning and completely compelling.


Text Jessie French

Thomas Jeppe
Ry David Bradley
ruth o’leary
james eisen
caleb shea
dan arps
helen johnston
isadora vaughan
jahnne pasco white
johnny niesche
joshua petherick
marian tubbs
nicola smith