When I was a very young kid, one summer my parents left my sister and me with our grandparents while they took a vacation to Europe. When they returned, one of the souvenirs they brought for me was a book of Renoir paintings. I became intrigued with the artist and his paintings, but when I learned how much they were worth, I became convinced that art was, inevitably, for the wealthy. So while my passion for art was ignited at a young age (and continued during university, where, despite my engineering major, I took every art history class my university had to offer), I always assumed that art was for people with far more money than I would ever have. The only way to see "real art," I believed, was to go to a museum.
My thinking about art changed many years after university, when I visited a colleague of mine in her tiny bungalow. Every wall of her house was filled with the most beautiful, original art. I asked her where she purchased them, and if she'd done a lot of research on the artists or artistic genres before buying.
"Oh, God, no. I just buy art whenever I travel for work," she said. She was an account manager for our company, and traveled constantly. "I buy it as my souvenir from any new place that I visit. And I don't really worry about making sure it's expensive enough to be considered 'good art,' of if it's by some major or up-and-coming artist, or even if it's a good investment value. I don't have a clue if people who actually know about art would approve of what I buy. I just buy whatever I like. Once in a while I buy art from a gallery, but to be honest, I'm just as likely to buy something from a street artist or a gift shop."
It was at that point that I decided that I too would start collecting, and now, our house is filled with original art. Occasionally we've splurged, but most of the time we've followed our friend's advice, and simply bought what we've loved -- often street art, or from gift or souvenir shops from places we've visited. We have pieces that were gifts from artistic friends. I've purchased inexpensive art from Etsy. Marcus is an artist, so we have several of his works on our walls. And we even have a few pieces that were created by Alex when she was very young, and had them framed and hung.
And so, my beliefs around art have definitely changed: art should be for everyone, man. Not just wealthy collectors, and certainly not found only in museums. Who cares if someone doesn't think your art is worth anything? If you love it, regardless of the price tag, or how well-known the artist is, it's awesome.