Surprised at the title? In my quest to advise collectors on how and what to buy, I also want to highlight reasons NOT to buy a piece. These are to be on the basis that these reasons are taken on their own.
1) Never, ever buy a piece for investment purposes only. As I have said before, it is unethical and potentially illegal, for art to be sold strictly on this basis. You may be in for a nasty surprise later. Rather, trust your own instincts. Buying a piece that you like is always the smarter move. Some of these pieces certainly do increase in value, but not until you’ve sold them. In the meantime, you have to live with them.
2) Do not buy a piece for the sole reason that it is signed. In some cases, the inside joke is that pieces NOT signed by certain individuals are more rare than signed ones. A piece signed by Walt Disney is certainly a rare occurrence. Pieces that are being “mass-signed” by animators at the moment do not have the same rarity consideration.
3) Don’t buy a piece because it’s the end of an edition, and it’s likely to be sold out soon, and thus “rare, hard-to-find, etc.” If you are truly interested in a piece, then you may need to make up your mind quickly. But not for any other reason.
4) Don’t be blinded by a great colour laser or hand-painted (hand-prepared) background. They look great, and really add to the aesthetic value of a piece, but take into account the cel that you are buying. That’s where the value of your purchase is. Same logic applies to a nice frame.
5) Don’t buy a piece because you feel that you have no other choices. You do have other choices. Wait, look, call other dealers, go on the internet. The market has been blown wide-open in the last few years, use it to your advantage. The above does not apply to really rare, exceptional vintage art.
6) Particularly in regard to the internet auctions, don’t just buy a piece because it sounds like a great deal. There are some good deals to be found, but some of those descriptions and pieces are just plain dodgy. I am particularly amused by the “would retail in galleries for x”. Most of these have been blown out of proportion. But don’t take my word for it, check their claims by yourself.
7) Don’t just buy a piece because you feel that you cannot afford the alternative. The price of a few sericels can buy you a nice piece of production art. The price of a few limited editions can buy you a fabulous piece of production art. The average price of two brand-new Disney limiteds will buy you a nice vintage Dwarf cel from 1937’s Snow White.
8) Don’t buy a piece of REPRODUCTION ART solely because it has a rare character in it. It is pretty easy for the studios to create brand-new pieces of rare characters whenever they please. If you like it for other reasons, then fair enough. My favourite story is I saw another dealer on tv touting a limited edition including the rare “Milly Willy”. I frowned, and realized my confusion was the result that there never had been a Milly Willy. She was “rare” because they had created her for the limited edition. In cases like this, doing your homework is a MUST.
9) Don’t follow the above rules blindly. Your heart and wallet rule. If you love a piece, and you can afford a piece. Buy it. That, after all, is the point of collecting.
10) Don’t buy new publicity cels or newer unsealed art unless you are very sure of your source. Trust me on this one.