The Artists This Pro Advisor Rates

When it comes to art, should you buy to invest or because you like it? Where do you find emerging talent and how do you know if they’re any good? When Nick Campbell founded Narcissus Arts in 2010, it was the only art consultancy in the UK specialising in works under £10,000. Now, with over a decade of experience to his name, Nick has become a go-to for those looking to build a collection. To get the inside track, we asked him which artists he currently has his eye on…

Discovering Emerging Artists

“Casting my mind back to pre-Covid times, the avenues for sourcing artwork were global,” says Nick. “Seeing as the majority of my clients were tied to their desks, it was down to me to travel the world to find them what they were looking for. On a macro-scale, this meant bi-monthly trips, mostly following the art fair circuit (last year I attended 25 alone). On a micro-scale, it meant checking out art degree shows and going on countless studio visits closer to home. Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in more restrictive times, so most of my sourcing comes from PDFs and online viewing rooms. However, last week I managed to get to Budapest for their Contemporary Art Fair, which proved very fruitful.”

Work To Invest In Under £10,000

Takashi Arai

“For anyone looking for exquisite photographs, look no further than Takashi Arai,” says Nick. “Arai is a Japanese artist and filmmaker who relies on the traditional daguerreotype silver plate method, as opposed to more modern digital options, to create his work. This isn’t in an attempt to evoke nostalgia, but what makes Arai’s photographs unique is that he feels this is a more reliable way of capturing images and memory. This concept remains integral to his work, most evidently in a recent series called ‘Multiple Monuments for 1,000 Women’ currently on show in his gallery in London.” 


Brendan Stuart Burns

“Brendan Burns is an artist who I have commissioned several times this year,” explains Nick. “He creates large abstract paintings inspired by the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales. Having long been drawn to the coast, he has spent more than 20 years drawing the varied landscape there, all of which is rich in life. The dynamic scenery with changing tides and dramatic weather patterns gives Burns the opportunity to reinvent how we see things through paint. The thick, impasto application of the paint on the canvas is almost like sculpting, as Burns adds and takes away, likening this to the rolling tides and the almost musical rhythm of nature.” 


Eleanor Johnson

“Here we have an artist that I discovered earlier this year via Instagram (a platform that is becoming more and more fruitful),” says Nick. “It would seem I’m a little late in recognising her talent as she has already exhibited internationally. Most recently, Eleanor's works have been exhibited in Paul Smith's store as part of Mayfair Art Weekend, and competed in this year's 'Sky Portrait Artist of the Year'. She’s another young artist who first studied at UCL in 2017 and is still currently an art student at City and Guilds of London. Her inspiration comes from Old Master paintings, but she creates unique works with a contemporary twist on the traditional academic approach. Intricate compositions fluctuate before the viewers' eyes as human figures seem to float across the canvas, surrounded by foliage and glimpses of sky. Using her work to explore the relationship between absence and presence, in both a physical and psychological sense, Johnson takes traditional subjects such as the human figure (particularly that of the female nude), to portray familiar idyllic scenes reminiscent of oil paintings imbued with a contemporary nuance.” 


Eeva Karhu

“Also inspired by the environment is Eeva Karhu, an artist based in Finland,” says Nick. “Karhu combines photography and nature in her works as she takes numerous images of the horizon, and then layers the images on top of one another to create unique artwork. Influenced by seasonal changes and the concept of time and memory, her works reveal nature’s power and presence in our everyday lives. As each image is placed upon another, time and place are combined literally and metaphorically as Karhu stratifies memory, place and perception.” 


Sue Arrowsmith

“Taking a more literal approach to the depiction of nature is Sue Arrowsmith, whose abstract forms intermingle with more recognisable elements of the land as she protects photographs of flora and fauna to meticulously recreate them on canvas,” shares Nick. “Her paintings are based on the things she photographs when on her walks around London. Instead of strictly tracing and reproducing what she photographs, Arrowsmith creates a much more faithful representation of nature, as she captures its less tangible elements. Her recent work also incorporates the use of metallic ink, which she creates herself by carefully grinding down sticks of Japanese sumi ink. The effect is rather spectacular, as pools of metallic liquid form on the canvas giving the paintings a new dynamic quality that seem to further reflect the vivacity and vibrancy of nature.”


If Money Was No Object…

“From the age of 17, when I first learnt about the abstract expressionists in art history class, I’ve always wanted to own a Mark Rothko more than anything else – preferably one from the 60s,” admits Nick. “Alas, I fear this day will never come, so if I had to lower my focus a little then I would have to say the piece I want to buy the most right now is this exquisite painting by Lisa Brice.”

Inspired? Here Are Nick’s Art Collecting Dos & Don’ts…

DO buy for love, not money. I realise this is somewhat of a cliché, but it’s the first piece of advice I give any new client. Buying art should be an enjoyable, educational adventure. If your purchase(s) end up increasing in value, that's a bonus, but the potential investment element should never be the driving force. 
DO see as much as possible. Although we can't visit as many galleries and art fairs as we would like too right now, there is still an endless supply to look at and buy online. Do your homework, research the artist, and see what comparisons are out there.
DON’T be put off if you only have a small budget. There are some fantastic buying opportunities out there. Some of the greatest collectors in the world started off collecting prints and editions, many by the biggest names around today. Lastly, if you love a piece, but can't quite afford it, don't be afraid to speak to the gallery and see if you can come up with some sort of payment plan. Everyone is keen to do deals, especially in these uncertain times. 
Visit and follow @NarcissusArts1

INSPIRATIOND CREDITS: Eleanor Johnson; Takashi Arai; Eeva Karhu
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