Buying art should be a natural and enjoyable experience. It can be impulsive, and it should always be based on feeling. There are lots of art dealers, flippers and salesmen out there that will tell you that you can get X% returns on your alternative art investment; the reality is that in the emerging contemporary art market, most artists will not achieve infamy or world-beating fame. For this reason, it’s important to buy with your eyes and not your ears. If you are just starting your collection and you connect with an artist or artwork on a visceral and emotional level (ie. if you love it), then do some due diligence: learn about the organisation you are buying from. Are they respected within the industry? Do they have a track record of developing their artists? If the answer to these questions is yes and you are confident you are buying from a professional and ambitious organisation, then look at the artist. Does the artist show at other reputable galleries? Have they been shown in any significant institutions and museums? Is their work in important collections?
First and foremost, follow your eyes, not your ears. That is how we buy. If it happens to be a good investment too, that’s a bonus. If you are new to collecting, don’t buy with the primary motivation of looking to re-sell in 5 years.
— It’s about developing your eye, being aware of styles and new genres of art.
— Be aware of what other collectors are buying, but don’t buy into “trends”.
So, you can’t buy a house, the prices for many a post-baby-bomber are just too out of a reasonably affordable price range. That boat has left the harbour, but rather than spending hard-earned cash can on a fleeting pleasure, is there something else to do with that slim pay packet that has a different and, maybe, lasting value.
What about art, after all it’s everywhere. Art is not just about intimidating galleries and museums, art is something maybe without even realising we are interacting with every day. The idea of filling a space with original images, crafted by the hand of a true artist, whose emotions transferred on to paper, canvas, wood or any other medium can bring an added facet to the place we call home.
But where to start? Well, the most important thing to decide is, do I like it? Sounds obvious but don’t be swayed by the idea that it could make money or think it’s by an artist that could become collectible. Use your instincts, feel your way through it…do I like it? Does it stir something inside me? But most of all, can I live with it or, maybe even better, is my home complete without it?
It’s very simple to start enjoying it by just being aware of what is around., make it your hobby. Even on a simple journey to work or a trip to the supermarket you can see a plethora of it. Art is everywhere, on street walls, in cafés, shops, parks, restaurants on the street, in fact, public art is a big thing. In many cities, this is because a proportion of budgets signed off for new buildings must be put aside for public art.So keep your eyes open. See what pieces capture your imagination. Do you prefer 3D or sculpture, does colour rock your boat or is texture and material what’s grabbing your attention. If you really have no idea what you like there are so many exhibitions that are free, just start going and looking and seeing what is out there.
Keep a note of artists name and then look them up and once you have started to build a list that is the time to start to follow them on social media, you may find they have an exhibition coming up you can go to.
Young or new artists are much for cost-effective with entry-level prices that can certainly start as a building block for new collectors.
Social media sites such as Instagram are becoming increasingly important platforms for artists. Even galleries and collectors are purchasing works found through such a platform. So have a search especially once you have some ‘touch words’ of things that have piqued your interest so that you can use them as search words.
Also, follow contemporary galleries and watch what emerging artists are showing up on their feeds or go to art fairs, don’t be put off, just get involved. Nobody is going to ask you for a dissertation on any artwork. Another very good way just to simply enjoy new art which also serves as a great potential is shopping ground in student shows. At the end of the art student degrees, universities work their art students to put on degree shows which are open to the public.
This is defiantly one of the best ways to buy interesting works at seriously low prices. But remember, do I love it? Can I live with it? Not will this person be famous!
Absolutely keep an eye on works from students from the big art schools that could potentially produce a student who within two or three years could find themselves represented by a big commercial gallery and their pieces may rocket in value, so buying before that point can be a clever move.
It’s also good if you do buy direct from a student or artist on a social media platform, to keep in touch with them. Your collection can grow with them, as they produce more work, you would be up there with the potential to buy it first.
Another option to build a collection and potentially refine your taste is to buy prints. Some major artists will produce printed editions in smaller, affordable batches, sold through non-profit making organisations like the RA, Aperture or the Whitechapel Gallery, so keep an eye out for collaborations and limited-edition projects. Or simply buy a print from an exhibition you have visited. Yes, ok it’s not an original, but a beautifully framed poster can raise your walls no end, afford you a slice of a world-famous creator as well as being one of the most cost-effective ways to start a collection.
As you start your collection, one last little tip to be aware of. Some galleries will offer payments plans. If you feel confident enough to start buying from galleries and you have upped your price range, this is a great way to build collectible pieces, from artists that already have a following. If you have bought pieces and are not sure if you still love them, move them around your space, or even take them down for a while before putting them up again at a later date. You may well surprise yourself as to how much your feelings have changed.
But never forget the golden rule: If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.
Copic Wide, Original and Fineliner drawing of Leicester Square scene on 200gsm A3 Cartridge paper