Support the next Michelangelo: Buy work from art-school students

Vanessa Richardson

My office is around the corner from a branch of the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Every day, I see "creatively" dressed youngsters dragging massive black portfolios to and from class. Sometimes they do photo shoots on my street, doing closeups of eggs splattered on the pavement or scantily-clad models slithering around on tinfoil. "How are they ever going to make a living when they get out of school?" I always wondered, shaking my head and clucking like a grandma.

Then one night while walking to the train station, I passed by the school, which featured student artwork in the windows. Dramatic black-and-white photographs of the countryside, colorful still-life of tropical fruit, muslin ballgowns draped on mannequins. This was college students' work? To me, it was wonderful stuff that looked like it could be displayed not only in art galleries but also in my place of honor, above the fireplace mantle. That's when I decided I wanted to help those students down the street earn a living.

I'll never have the budget to buy a Picasso or a Pollock, but I could be buying work from the next art-world sensation. That's why I think buying works from art schools is way better than buying them at art galleries and auctions. Not only are you giving students and alumni a mental and financial boost, you're also buying up-and-coming works that could appreciate later on if the artist gains fame.