A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Art
The art you choose to surround yourself with should speak to you but also tell your story.
By Jennifer Casseday-Blair
Photo by Olaf Growald
You don’t need to be familiar with terms like “postimpressionism” or “pointillism” to appreciate art. Personal collections are most valuable when buyers are less concerned about what constitutes as “art” and more interested in just finding what they love. If you’re a newcomer to the art scene and interested in making a first-time purchase but have no idea where to start, ask yourself these questions:
How much am I wanting to spend?
Chris Dahlquist, visual artist and juror for the 2022 Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, says that determining your personal budget is the best place to start. “You can begin an art collection with something as simple as a beautiful handmade coffee mug or a loose pencil sketch that you love. If the collecting budget is modest, you might explore printmaking or photography as a starting point for two-dimensional work and ceramics or glass, where you can collect a grouping over time,” Chris says.
What if what I really like is more than what I can afford?
If an artist’s work doesn’t fit within your budget, start by asking the artist if they have anything else, including reproductions. “Some artists or galleries will also allow you pay in installments. It is worth asking. And be sure to get on their email list and follow them on social media to follow along with their career and keep current with their latest artwork and offerings,” Chris says.
Where should I begin my search?
With the art world being so vast, some of the best places for beginner collectors are juried art festivals like the Main St. Arts Festival, art markets like Arts Goggle, and local pop-ups. Chris says, “These venues will provide opportunities to experience a large variety of artwork and meet both local and national artists. Collecting art should be a fun process, so experiment with a lot of different events and venues and see what you enjoy the most.”
Once I invest in a piece of art, how should I display and maintain it?
After buying a piece of artwork, inquire with the artist or gallerist how to best care for your purchase or if there are any special considerations. For example, is your new piece of pottery food and dishwasher safe? Also pay special consideration where you display your art. Try not to hang anything where the humidity levels are high, like the bathroom or near the stove. Make sure you think about how you’ll protect the piece from direct light, which can fade over time. “Many people buy unframed artwork with great intentions of getting it framed, yet it sits in a closet or behind the bed where it cannot be enjoyed. It is often more economical to purchase it already framed rather than framing it yourself (the artist likely gets a better price on framing than you can), but if you do buy artwork that needs to be framed, create a plan and a deadline for framing,” Chris says.
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