Allison Thompson Art & Interiors


Collecting Art for Beginners: A Few Simple Tips

For some people, collecting art can be a daunting task. Whether it is choosing the right artist or navigating the gallery system, the art world is not always straightforward, especially for those with no previous experience in buying art. That’s why we at Allison Thompson Art & Interiors want to give you a few simple tips to make collecting art a fun experience. When done properly, collecting art can be a great investment both personally and financially that supports the cultural community and the artist. The best art collections are not built quickly by necessarily spending a lot of money, but by investing overtime in artists whose work you genuinely enjoy.

1.    Invest in What You Love
Prior to thinking about investment value, new collectors should first focus on finding artwork that you genuinely love. Go to art galleries, art fairs and museums, and learn about different artists. Narrow down the era of art that draws you in: contemporary, modern, and or traditional. Figure out what type of art stands out for you whether its paintings, sculptures, video art, installations, and or performance art etc. The right piece of art to buy is something that you will want to look at everyday.

2.    Understand what Determines the Cost of the Artwork
It can be tricky to understand why one painting can be valued so much higher than another. The price of art is affected by many different factors such as medium (works on canvas are valued higher than paper, and paintings are valued higher than drawings), size, production costs, time it takes to complete the work and the repertoire of the artist (if the work is completed by an established artist, and is representative of their “style”, it will be valued significantly higher then work completed by an emerging artist). The more exhibitions an artist has done and the galleries they have exhibited at can also increase the price of their art. It is important to set a budget when buying art. Try to stick to the budget set unless you find a truly spectacular piece.

3.    Consider an Art Advisor
The art market is often confusing and exclusive. Hiring an art advisor can help simplify the buying process and relieve many of the stresses that potential collectors experience when collecting art. A good advisor will help find the best quality work for whatever taste and budget, and will introduce clients to new artists and artworks. In addition, advisors often have insider connections throughout the art industry. They are knowledgeable about both established and emerging artists and will help negotiate with galleries and attend auction houses on the client’s behalf. In return for their services, advisors will typically charge a client between 5 to 10% of the art sale price, or charge a monthly fee.

4.    Buying Art on a Budget
Once considered a hobby reserved for the wealthy, the current contemporary art market offers numerous options for collecting art on a budget. Emerging artists and recent art school graduates produce some of the most innovative and exciting work on the market, often selling for a fraction of the cost of what an established artist’s work sells for. If you are truly on a shoestring budget, look for artists that produce editions or prints. Often these artists will produce a limited-edition run of prints available at a much lower cost.

5.    The Ins and Outs of Galleries
Still confused by how the gallery system works? Here is a quick breakdown of some gallery basics.

Galleries work with artists to display their work, as well as sell their work. Galleries, as opposed to art museums, are generally small commercial spaces. They are open to public viewing for free. Working with a gallery is beneficial when collecting art, as the art consultants have been exposed to a wide range of art and are experts on art and the market.

Many galleries, especially well established ones, will not just sell their paintings to anyone. Some of these galleries have waiting lists and can be very exclusive. Establishing a relationship with a gallery can be incredibly rewarding. Working with a gallery can mean getting to see an entire body of artwork by an artist, having the collection explained in detail, and being introduced to other artists represented by the gallery.

Purchasing artwork through a gallery also allows for a clear paper trail from artist to collector. This is incredibly important for any collector when reselling or authenticating a piece of art.

So while some galleries may seem intimidating, most will be more than happy to set up a private tour of the exhibition, are incredibly passionate about the work they display, and will help a potential client through every step of the buying process.

Stephanie Thompson