Demystifying the Art Buying Process for New and Would-Be Collectors

Three steps to beginning a great art collection

So you want to start an art collection but a): think you can’t afford it and b): don’t know where to begin. My advice to you is to take the money factor out of the equation for now. You will come back to it later when it is time to narrow in on possible purchases. In the meantime, just gather information and figure out what styles and media you love.

 Art is not like clothing. If you love an expensive top but you can’t afford it, you gain nothing from buying it in a smaller size. But if you find an artist you love whose large works are too expensive, you can often start with a smaller piece or a drawing that fits within your budget.
Step one:
Look at art and become familiar with what you like.
Online browsing is the easiest way to hone in on your preferences so you can then go out and see it in person. Art always looks different in person, so once you figure out what you like, go see some of it up close.
Public Galleries
Follow a tour, learn some art history and have a cappuccino.  Enjoy some art with no pressure to buy.
Commercial Galleries
The old stereotype of the snooty, stuck up art dealer is no longer entirely relevant. Many galleries now make a point of being welcoming and helpful, and will patiently encourage browsing. If you happen upon gallery staff who are rude or snooty, don’t bother with that gallery. There are plenty of commercial galleries that have friendly staff and an array of beautiful art.Co-op or
Artist Run Galleries
These are galleries run by a group of artists who pay membership fees and rent a gallery space to showcase their work. The shows are curated by the artists themselves and there is often an artist on hand to answer questions.
Art Fairs

Art fairs are the best way to view plenty of art all in one place, at your own pace, in a casual environment where no one is pressuring you to buy. Fairs also offer the exciting opportunity to talk to the artists directly and learn about their processes and motivations for creating the art you love. If you do end up buying one of their works some day, you will cherish that connection you made with the person who created it. Most big cities have art fairs spaced out throughout the year, so there is always something to look forward to.

Studio Visits:

Artists may do business through a gallery or directly from their studio, or both. Don’t be afraid to email an artist and ask.

Step two:  

Make a purchase plan:
A couple I know buys a piece of art every year for their anniversary. Each year they put aside whatever they can afford to spend on art, and during the course of the year, they browse the art shows and galleries, making connections and discovering what they like. By the time their anniversary rolls around, they usually have a good idea of what they want and how to buy it.
Step three:
Buying and hanging your beautiful art:
Choosing art is simple: Just buy what you love. If you enjoy looking at it and it makes you smile, make it yours.
Many artists and galleries offer hanging, delivery and other services which are often included in the price of a painting. Some will come to your home and help you decide where to hang a painting or place a sculpture. Others will allow you to take a work of art home and see it in your space before you decide to buy it.
A few things to remember:
Bigger is not always better: A small work can have a very big impact – both on your space and on your heart.  (The most recent piece of art I bought is 4” x 6”. It is a tiny, sweet mixed media work by Toronto artist Kelly Grace and I gave it as a gift to someone I love).
These 3 tiny paintings by Joya Paul make a huge impact in my front hall

Don’t compare apples to oranges. Meaning don’t look at a piece of original art and say “yeah but I can get a poster 3 times the size at Ikea for half the price”. You can’t compare something hand made and authentic with something mass-produced: This isn’t even apples to oranges, it’s more like fresh farmers market apples to decorative plastic oranges.

If you are still unsure where to start, talk to someone who can offer you guidance.  If you don’t know who do ask, email me.  I love to talk about art (clearly), and can recommend websites, artists and galleries to help set you on the track that works for you. Trust me, once you get started, there will be no stopping you!

“Every time I make something I think about the people who are going to see it
and every time I see something, I think about the person who made it…
Nothing is important… so everything is important.” 
(Keith Haring)   

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