Few things in the world are as gratifying as building up your own art collection. Not only do you get to surround yourself with beautiful things but you find a vibrant network of friends and contacts, develop a discriminating eye, and may overtime even become an expert on a particular artist. But beginning a collection can be tricky and to a certain extent quite daunting. Which of the hundred galleries should you visit? Which art to buy? Is it good art?
This guideline below will help you navigate the choppy waters of vernissages (gallery openings) and art fair parties and guide you towards finding a deeper understanding of the intrinsic value of art. Pretty soon you will be hopping from gallery to gallery, air-kissing your friends on both cheeks and overusing words like "darling" and "fabulous"!
1. Collecting is not about just spending money
From all you hear about it on the news you would be forgiven for thinking art collecting is just for oligarchs and dotcom billionaires. This is not the case and to start a collection all you need is judgment and the courage to go for it. Take the Vogels from New York, instead of eating in restaurants or travelling, these civil servants spent all their leftover cash on art. Only choosing works they could carry home on the subway, in no time at all they had amassed one of the most important modern collections of minimalist and conceptual art in the world, boasting Sol LeWitt, Lichtenstein, and even Andy Warhol. With every inch of the walls covered in art—and much stacked under the bed of their rent controlled apartment—the Vogels are an example of what is possible when you take a risk on young artists and are prepared to do a bit of research.
2. Don’t be limited to flat works alone
Some collectors take real delight in picking between a variety of mediums—a piece of ceramic here, an etching there, followed perhaps by a painting. Altogether they build up a lively collection of diverse pieces that form a personal and revealing landscape of their tastes.
3. There are great opportunities in the artist editions and multiples market
Choosing signed limited editions means it is possible to buy original works from the greatest artists of our times at an affordable price. You will discover that many editions are immensely sought after with prominent positions in the collections of many top collectors. Just remember to make sure the work is signed or comes with a certificate of authenticity. Multiples usually allow artists to experiment with new materials and processes and that liberation can really spark an artist’s imagination. In most cases limited editions and multiples are a collaboration between an artist and printer or publisher—an exciting and frankly unique scenario in the art world.
4. Visit art fairs
Here choosing the right art is the least of your worries as most visitors are more concerned about what they are wearing and barging in front of you! All the same for less expensive work by experimental or offbeat artists try the serendipitous pleasures of trawling through the satellite art fairs that surround the larger ones such as Liste in Art Basel, Switzerland, and Untitled or NADA in Art Basel Miami in the U.S.
5. Hit the young raw galleries and follow an artist's career
Art is forever associated with echoing white spaces, haunty black-attired gallery assistants and art world jargon. This is not the case with young galleries who often have a more open agenda and work with artists fresh out of art school. Here it is possible to come across some major talents whose star is only set to rise. Then the real fun begins, see how the artist develops, are they being included in significant exhibitions and group shows? Are they being featured in Art magazines? Even consider creating your own watchlist and seeing how the artist's career begins to spiral upwards—once they've fulfilled your criteria it’s time to pounce!
6. Join an art community
There is an extraordinary social aspect to collecting and you'll soon find yourself involved in a circle of art lovers, whether it be with a museum or a collectors club. Here you will meet a vibrant network of curators, artists, collectors, art patrons, and dealers. The contacts that you make here and at various vernissages will help you unearth new prospects as well as invites to all the exclusive parties. Together, you'll become part of an information exchange sharing and receiving tips on what has been discovered in exhibitions, online or at art auctions.
7. Buy work online
Some of the bigger galleries don't even give out a price list unless you are a collector they want to sell to. Luckily there are some incredible offers to be found on the ever-increasing online art market, you just need to make sure you are using reliable sites that sell signed artworks that are strictly limited and provide certificates of authenticity with every sale. This is all the better if you decide to resell the works again online… making use of such services on fineartmultiple!
8. Look after your collection
We've all heard the stories about people finding lost masterpieces in their cellars but the reality is that a lot of art gets thrown away because it has been allowed to get ruined by damp, or the cat has started sharpening her claws on it. Above all remember to never hang photographs or works on paper in direct sunlight.
9. Make sure to document your artwork
When buying art cling on to every story and piece of information you can about the work itself and the artist. Keep hold of any proof you have of meeting the artist, buying the work, where they made the work, whether it has been exhibited before, who was the previous owner, etc? This will help you keep on top of its provenance (highly important for resale) and to become a more knowledgeable and effective collector.
10. Don't just listen, trust your eyes
It sounds obvious but don't just listen to the hype surrounding the artist, use your judgement as well. The art world is full of puffed up figures who are all brashness and noise, and often use their positions to inflate prices. Of course, sometimes they are right, and you might kick yourself for not heeding a bit of advice! But the best option is to always take what you hear with a pinch of salt, take it seriously but before taking out your wallet, make sure you do your own research as well to back it up.