Being a newcomer in the art world can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems! Here are a few simple Collectionair guidelines on how to get started when it comes to collecting art.
1. Explore as much as you can.
It’s important to explore as much as you can. Even if you don’t necessarily understand what you’re looking at at first. Include it in your monthly routine, visit museums, exhibitions, art fairs, go to auctions just to sit and watch. This will help you train your eye, start recognizing multiple art languages and techniques, and get acquainted with current and past tendencies in art. Most importantly, you will start developing your tastes and preferences (be it by medium, genre or period). This applies for surfing online as well. If you live in a city whose art scene isn’t exactly vibrant, you have all the information you need available online!
2. Educate yourself and be an informed buyer.
Keep up to date with what’s happening in the art world, paying attention to both mainstream art news, and news about more independent or emerging artists and scenes. The Collectionair’s Journal is a great place for the latter and we also recommend checking out the The Art Newspaper, which has really interesting accessible content for newcomers. Knowing the ‘players’ in the art market and their role is quite fundamental when it comes to understanding the dynamics of the market. You could start by reading (or skimming) The $12 Million Stuffed Shark (Don Thompson, 2008) and Seven Days in The Art World (Sarah Thornton, 2008) for a comical and witty, but albeit unflattering, portrayal of the art world and it’s big ‘players’, and then for the most informative and explanatory take on the how everything actually works take a look at The Value of Art (Michael Findlay, 2012).
3. Collect with your eyes, not with you ears.
This means be faithful to your tastes, independently of trends. The familiarity you feel with an art work that you acquire, and the connection to it, is always an emotional experience and your collection should be a reflection of your own personal preferences (not the same as your next door neighbour)! Collecting is a statement and even an expression of opinion. Don´t be afraid to exercise that! Mix periods, mediums, genres and create your own dialogue between the artworks. And of course, if it is both part of a contemporary trend, and something that you personally like, then even better!
Don’t forget that collections are not static: they grow, evolve and change direction. Your taste will change throughout the years and that´s okay. You can use Collectionair as a place to rent or swap those pieces that you feel you no longer identify with.
4. Understand what factors you have to consider when looking at an artwork, both for price and for a better understanding of the work.
There are so many factors to consider besides just the size! Is the artist young or are they well into their career? Did the artist exhibit in important institutions or are they part of any important collections (private or public)? Is the work coming from the secondary or primary market? (Don’t know what this means, read the Value of Art!) Who represents the artist: a world renowned gallery or a small but upcoming and trendy one? What is the artist background? Where does he live? What´s the concept of the artwork? Is the piece one-of-a-kind, or one of 100? What medium is it? High-end galleries will generally charge higher prices for artists than less-established galleries; a work on canvas is generally more expensive than a photograph, and so it goes on…
Yes, so many questions to consider it can seem overwhelming but in fact it’s quite simple! Collectionair wants to ensure you understand how all these factors balance each other out and to help you start thinking about how to look at an artwork. Stay tuned for tutorials on the topic of how to price an art work!
Collecting can and should be be accessible to everyone, whatever their interests are, or their budget.
The idea that you have to be a Rockefeller to be a collector couldn’t be more wrong. Nowadays, more than ever, there are so many ways to find pieces that fit your budget; online, from independent spaces, young galleries, just take your pick! Just make sure you remember the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a New-York based couple, who despite their modest incomes from working as civil servants, amassed what is now considered to be one of the best and most important collections of post 1960’s art in the world!
Good luck and off you go!