Interested in starting your art collection? Read this to help you on your way!
Starting your art collection is about beginning with pieces that you love, that pull you in, that evoke emotion in you.
Particularly with your first purchases, focus on pieces that you are drawn to in a personal way, that you can imagine in your home, that you’d really love to keep.
Just as Marie Kondo and her Konmari method of organization teaches us to only hold on to things that ‘spark joy’ – take a similar approach to starting your art collection.
And to understand what art stirs you and lifts you up … you have to look at art!
Here are five steps to to help you get your art collection started:
1 Take time to understand your taste.
Before even thinking about acquiring your first piece, take some time to expose yourself to art. If you can, really immerse yourself in different art experiences – visit your neighborhood galleries, spend a few long afternoons in museums, visit a local craft fair, peruse online gallery collections from the comfort of your couch, watch a few artists or art history documentaries.
As you do this, pay attention to the styles, mediums, periods, subject matter that you like, that you are curious about. There’s no need to take notes during the early part of this process, just be mindful as you look around. Eventually, you will begin to notice what type of work brings you energy. You may find that you like a specific medium, such as oil on canvas, pen and ink, graphite, watercolor, clay, or film. You may be drawn to a specific subject matter such as portraits or landscapes; or you may like art influenced by specific historical periods or art that speaks to certain social issues.
This first step can take a long time, especially if you’ve never really paid attention to your tastes in art before.
Be patient, don’t rush in. There is no right or wrong – so have a lot of fun in discovery!
2 Start conversations.
As you work your way through step one, when you’re ready, and as often as you can, start a conversation. You might speak to a curator at a gallery, or with an artist at a fair, or even through their website
An easy way to start a conversation is to scan through the pieces in the gallery or the website, and to pick a specific piece that you like or that you’d like to know more about. Ask to hear more about the piece, such as the artistic process behind it or the inspiration for the work.
Even when you are not ready to purchase, it’s good to begin engaging in these conversations.
You will learn more about art and artists, refine your understanding of your tastes in art, and get some practice for when you are ready to make a purchase. In this step, you might also meet artists whose work you’d like to follow (and later purchase).
3 Pencil in a starting budget.
When you’re feeling more in tune with your taste, tune into your budget. You don’t need a fixed figure, but do consider a budget range that you are comfortable with for your first purchase. How much are you willing to spend on your first painting, sculpture, print?
For your first few pieces, think less about the investment side of art collection. You’re not really looking to find the grand piece by a named artist, you’re looking for a piece that you love. This could be an artist in your neighborhood, a recent art graduate from your city university, or someone you found on Instagram.
So pencil in a budget that you feel comfortable with, with a clear low mark and high mark. This will help make sure you don’t end up with impulse purchases that are beyond what you are able to afford (or are willing to pay!). Also pencil in a budget for framing and hanging your piece.
That being said, if you’ve fallen in love with a piece that is outside of your penciled budget, you can also ask the artist about payment plans and exchange policies. You can often pay a downpayment to reserve a painting, and many artists have an exchange policy.
4 Don’t rush…, but when you’ve found one you love, make your first purchase!
Take as much time as you need with steps 1 to 3. And if you do, this step 4 will come naturally in it’s own time.
Depending on where you are – in your understanding of your taste, your exposure to art for sale, and your preparedness to make a purchase – your first purchase can happen a long while from now, or it could be very soon.
Don’t rush. Only make the first purchase when you’ve found something that you really love. You. A piece of art that you love.
This applies to the next few purchases too, but especially for the first one.
There will be room to grow into the investment part of art collecting as you build your collection.
Some great places to find your first pieces are the local galleries in your neighbourhood, college and master student shows, local art fairs.
5 Treasure the art!
So you’ve made your purchase – what’s next?
Know how to take care of your art. Make sure to do some research on how to frame, hang, and take care of a piece of art. This can mean different things for different types of pieces. Art is often sold unframed, so you will have to find a good framer (this is an important part to invest in) if you are receiving an unframed piece.
Choose a spot in your space where the art can play a role in the room.
This can be at home, the office, or elsewhere. The art does not necessarily have to be the center piece of a space – but give the art a home, where it can be enjoyed, admired, and even talked about.
Let the art live where it can spark something in you – whatever the emotion that drew you to the artwork in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to test out locations in your space before you choose it’s home.
Lastly, enjoy the art – it’s yours!
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