A corporate art collection can be a great asset to any company.

Art collections provide the opportunity to support your local arts community. When chosen well, it can boost your brand and it helps to create a positive ambiance in your offices. That said, from a corporate governance perspective, it’s probably not a good idea to blow millions of dollars on a Picasso or Warhol painting.

So, what to acquire?

Emerging art is created by contemporary artists who are just starting out. Even though they are believed to be on their way to art world recognition, they are not quite there yet. Consequently, their art is not expensive yet because they usually don’t have gallery representation (or are represented by a small, local gallery) and don’t have the resume to support higher prices.

Read on for three pointers on how to dip your toes into the emerging art market.

Choose art that supports your company’s mission statement

Unless you’re well-versed in collecting art yourself, it may be worth consulting with a corporate art consultant who specializes in working with corporations, hotels and hospitals to choose art that’s appropriate for your facilities.

You want your art collection to support your mission statement as a company so that you can use it to leverage your brand and build your company culture for your employees. An art consultant can advise you on any copyright issues that need to be dealt with or refer you to an art lawyer with that expertise.

In other words, don’t just throw a couple of prints on the wall and call it a collection. Think about its purpose and what you want it to stand for.

Don’t forget that an art collection comes with a lot of logistics: insurance, conservation treatments, framing and lighting, and perhaps a part-time art consultant to manage and rotate the collection, particularly if you have more than one corporate location. You can keep track of all of these logistics with an online art collection management system. Cloud-based software like Artwork Archive allows you to access these important details anywhere at anytime. 

Consider what would be appropriate for your offices & culture

It’s not only important that your employees and other key stakeholders in your organization are on board with your plans, they also might want to have a say in what the end result will eventually look like. So before you fly to Art Basel Miami for a spending spree at the art fairs, check what your employees want.

After all, they have to look at it every day.

It’s very important to consider what would be appropriate for your particular organization. For example, anything political or sexual is not appropriate for an office environment.

But, do you want something calming and serene, like abstract art for a hospital, or fun and quirky, for a tech start-up? An art consultant can help you with this process as they’ll have access to the work of many contemporary artists.

Think of your art as an investment, but don’t think of it as an investment

Buying art for investment purposes is a much-hyped phenomenon. The reality is that a lot of contemporary art never goes up in value. Not every artist’s work makes it to the secondary market.

Additionally, even if you do collect artworks that are sold on the secondary market (i.e. high-value contemporary art, Picasso’s or Warhols) it’s important to keep in mind that art has high transaction costs, is a very illiquid asset (i.e. difficult and time-consuming to sell) and the art market can be as volatile as the financial markets.

The chances that you’re going to make big bucks out of your corporate art collection exist, but don’t count on it.

The more productive way to look at your art collection is to think of it as an investment in your company, a visual means to support your brand promise to your employees, your clients and other stakeholders. It’s also an investment in the visual arts community. If one or two of the artists you bought go up in value over time, great. If not, you’ll still have the enjoyment of wonderful, exciting art on your office walls.

Continue building a thoughtful corporate art collection. Get tips from art consultants here. 

Annelien Bruins has worked within the international art world for almost 20 years and she currently lives and works in New York. After honing her expertise managing two well-known, extensive private collections of art, antiques and collectibles, she set up London-based Bruins Private Collections Consultancy in 2007, providing portfolio management to both private and corporate clients from Europe, the United States, and Asia. Five years later, Annelien hopped the Atlantic and joined Tang Art Advisory where she serves as CEO and senior art advisor.

In 2012 she founded Katapult Art Management in order to help artists, artist foundations, and estates manage their business, marketing, and logistical challenges so that they can focus on the creation and sale of art. Katapult works with artists to develop their identity, an effective marketing and pricing strategy and an efficiently-run studio operation, for their long-term success.