Let me start by sharing the simple fact that anyone can collect art. It is not just for the wealthy, the famous or the elite in our society. Becoming a collector is a bit different that merely decorating your home, and it may take time, patience and education to build a collection that reflects your interest. Collecting is an investment in yourself, and in deepening your visual awareness. Through the process of collecting work that you enjoy, your experience with the art and artists will grow and deepen over time.
I’ve been asked a number of times how people can begin an art collection. Below are my top 5 tips to get you started.
Educate Yourself: Pick up some art magazines at the local library or at a good bookstore. Read the reviews in your local newspaper. Search the internet for more information. (Even though I live in California, I enjoy reading the reviews in the The New Yorker magazine as a way of furthering my own education.) Make notes about what you are learning. The more you educate yourself, the more comfortable you will feel when you begin your collection.
See more art: Get out and see the real thing. Visit museums to see work by established artists, visit art fairs to see the current art trends, attend local gallery openings to see new work and talk to the gallery staff and artists in person, take an art walk, visit the artists during their open studios. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A trustworthy professional should always be willing to give you a straight and knowledgeable answer. The more art you see and the more questions you ask, the more you will understand what you like, and the more you know what you like, the more confident you will be in beginning your collection.
Know what you like: Become aware of your preferences, understand which genre draws you in. Buying art is an emotional experience, so start by collecting what you love. Allow your emotions to guide you, no one else knows your taste better than yourself. The only mistake is buying art that you don’t love.
Follow your favorite artist’s career: Join their mailing lists, read their blogs, visit the galleries that show their work, see their current exhibitions, visit their studio for a behinds the scene look into their world. Artists’ appreciate your interest in their career and are, generally, more than happy to share it with you.
Start Small and Negotiate terms: It’s important to understand your budget before you begin and to know that there is great work available in all price ranges. It may be easier for you to start small and then increase your budget as your interest and understanding grow. If you fall in love with something that you can’t afford to pay in full for today, ask the gallery or artist if they would negotiate a payment plan.
As far as what not to do, it’s probably best not to purchase art as an investment, especially if you don’t love the work. The future value of artwork is not guaranteed, however, most often it does hold or increase in value over time. I’ve also heard from collectors that buying art on vacation can often backfire, so be sure you really love the art and do your homework before you hand over your cash.
I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions on starting your art collection, please share your comments here: