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A Beginner’s Guide To Collecting Art

Image by VictorianLady from Pixabay

Art isn’t just a pretty decoration, and has the ability to really strike a chord and make us feel something emotionally. As such, it’s no wonder we see artwork seemingly everywhere we go these days, from restaurants and bars, to whole galleries dedicated to art and, of course, our homes.

Engaging with such pieces is proven to encourage creativity and even make you happier, so it’s easy to see why you want to start a collection yourself. However, doing so involves much more than just buying some pictures and hanging them up. From researching artists and visiting galleries, to purchasing a piece, framing it and choosing where to place it — there’s plenty to consider.

Whether you’re collecting art as a hobby or for decorative purposes, building a collection requires time and knowledge. However, there are no rules, and it’s all up to your personal preference and tastes. If you’re unsure where to start though, we’ve written a beginner’s guide to collecting art to help you out.

  1. Research before making any art purchases

As a beginner, you’ll want to identify the styles of art you love and which artists you connect with. Visit art galleries, fairs and exhibitions, and look at as much artwork as you can to get a feel of different styles, mediums and artists. Instagram is also a great place for seeking out new emerging artists too. Are you interested in landscapes or portraits? Abstract concepts or realism? Contemporary or classical? Make a note of the pieces that naturally draw your eye and figure out why they stand out to you.

  1. Understand the terminology

The art industry is serious business for many investors and collectors, and there tends to be many art-related terms flying about. Understanding such terminology will be incredibly beneficial when it comes to picking and purchasing art, even though it’s easy to feel intimidated by all the jargon at the start. Some of these terms are technical, others are historical. For example, pentimento refers to an alteration in a painting when an artist has changed his mind about the composition while painting. Meanwhile, abstract art is “art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect”. Knowing such terminology will make the collecting process easier, and you’ll better understand artwork and how pieces are created.

  1. Invest in a good-quality frame

Framing makes a world of difference to a piece of art. It’s a key component for displaying it, helping to complete the experience for the viewer, while also helping to protect your art and ensure your pieces last a long time. On the other hand, a bad frame can ruin your art’s appearance, causing it to develop mould or the paint to crack. As such, it’s important you get it framed by a professional. Take London-based framing experts Soho Frames, for instance, that specialise in creating “beautiful, handmade, or custom gallery standard picture frames for your prints, posters, artworks and more.” The company uses only the best framing materials, including quality, ethically sourced woods and mounting boards, ensuring your art is framed to the highest possible standard. Expensive art requires quality framing, so if you want to get the most out of your art, it’s certainly worth investing in a well-crafted frame.  

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Starting an art collection can be daunting. There’s so much to consider, including your budget and how much space you have to store pieces. So, before you finalise an art purchase, don’t be afraid to ask questions about it. This can also help ensure you get good value for your money and only buy authentic pieces. Those working in the industry are always willing to chat and provide information for you — it’s their passion. Enquire about the artist, which materials have been used, the condition, its price, and how it should be framed. Don’t worry about asking the ‘wrong’ question either — there’s no such thing.

  1. Buy what you love

Art is very personal, so what constitutes a great piece is subjective. As such, you should always buy what you love. You needn’t worry about trends — it’s your art, your home. If a beautiful painting resonates with you, give it a new home, whether that’s an acrylic-based image of your favourite place, a commissioned picture of your pet, or something solely conceptual. Meanwhile, many people purchase art purely for investment purposes, with the idea of making money from it, but there’s no pressure to get involved with this side of the industry. When buying a piece of art, don’t worry about its future value — all that matters is it brings some joy to your life. Purchase the art that speaks to you and you’ll love it for years to come.

  1. Start small

As a beginner, starting small is the best way to go about collecting art, particularly if you’re on a budget. You could begin with A5 art prints from one of your favourite artists, for instance. The idea is to spend time perfecting your collection, and over the years, your selection will grow and grow. Even if you’ve got your eye on a well-known piece, you can buy these at an affordable rate as famous artists often release printed editions of their works in smaller, less-expensive batches.

  1. Consider where to place your art

Deciding where to place your artwork is just as important as choosing which pieces to buy, otherwise you might head home with your new purchase and never hang it up. Do you have enough room, for example? Consider the art’s dimensions and weight to help you identify the best place for display to avoid being unable to find room for it. If you already have art on your walls, these will need to be factored in too. Experiment with different positions to see if it blends in with the rest of your artwork, as well as your interiors. Move it around. Place it in different rooms. Whether it’s to stop and intrigue, or to settle and calm, you want it to have a presence in a room. You’ll also need to think about how lighting will impact the art and whether the piece matches your home’s colour scheme.