on collecting art


Last week on Facebook Live, I gave a quick tour of our new apartment, before sharing my thoughts on how to begin an art collection, if you've never had one before, and are interested in creating one.  At the request of someone who watched it, I thought I'd share my tips with you here.

First of all, let me start with a disclaimer:  I've been collecting art for about 20 years now, and while I love collecting art, I don't know anything about it, really. I mean, I took architectural history back in college 30 years ago, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.  Secondly, if you believe, as I used to, that art collecting was only for the very wealthy, or the very art-educated, let me assure you that I am proof that it isn't.  To that end, I don't collect art for the purpose of investing, or reselling, or making a mint.  Again, I wouldn't know how.

Instead, I buy art because I like it.  And I buy it when my family and I travel, or to celebrate something special in our family.  Our art ends up being a visual diary of our family.

So, if you'd like to start your own visual diary of your family through an art collection, here are my best tips:

1.  Buy what you love.  No seriously, buy what you love.  Don't worry about whether or not the artist is going to be famous one day, or if the gallery or story selling it is famous, or even if it goes with the decor or colour scheme of your home.  If you love it, buy it.  I have found that every time I bought something I love, there was always a place in my home where it was perfect.  And if you buy it when you're traveling or for a special occasion, you'll find that you'll remember that trip or that event every time you look at it.

Again, this is the number one rule of art collecting:  buy what you love.

2.  Don't feel obligated to spend a ton of money.  When I first made the conscious decision to start buying original art, I made the completely erroneous preconception that more expensive must absolutely mean that the art was better.  This could not be more inaccurate.  While I certainly have art where we've spent money, I have much more art that were simply done by local street artists (for which I paid a nominal fee), or artist was a friend or family member (Marcus is a wonderful artist, and we have a few originals that he did hung around the house).  Remember rule #1:  buy what you love.  If you love it, and you can afford it, then buy -- don't worry about whether or not the price is high enough to warrant its value to you.

3.  Get curious about art.  I'm not suggesting that you learn all about artist and art history and understand every artist's motivations (although if you are so moved, by all means go for it).  But what I am suggesting is that you explore famous artists, by going to museums and galleries, and just learning what it is you love.  Determine if you're someone who love figurative art. Or impressionist art.  Or abstracts.  Or multi-media pieces.  As you learn what you're drawn to, it will help you hone your intuition about art when it comes to purchasing it for yourself.

4.  Unknown artists are where you'll find treasure.  While you can certainly read press about "up-and-coming" artists, there are so many other artists who aren't getting press that are doing great work.  Etsy is a wonderful place to get original art.  There are tons of artists on Instagram.  Go searching for them, and help support their art.  And often these are where you'll find affordable pieces that you'll love for years.

5.  Don't forget university art programs and museum art schools.  Often universities and art schools have annual art fairs, featuring the art of their students. It's a great way to find art inexpensively.

And with that, I hope you'll start buying art!  If you already do -- am I missing any thing?  Leave your best advice in the comments for how to get started with an art collection.  

(And don't forget:  buy what you love.)