How to Start Your Own Art Collection

Artwork Archive | April 5, 2019 (Updated April 12, 2021)

The art world is notoriously obscure.

From private buyers and secret sales to prized paintings simply disappearing, even the most enthusiastic art lovers can find themselves lost in the art world. Attending any auction means that you’ll come face to face with a complex, labyrinthine world where individual pieces can go for eye-watering sums and millions of dollars change hands.

However, do not let this deter you from putting together your very own art collection. You don't have to spend millions or have an art history degree to collect. 

Interested in putting together your very own art collection? Here are a few tips for starting out from art historian and author Anna Tietze.

Do your research.

Get up to speed with what’s going on in the art world. Identify artists who are rumored to be rising stars and keep an eye on what is selling well in the art market and for how much.

Tietze suggests that you should “go along to auction sales, initially just as an observer to see how they work. Find out who the reputable art dealers/gallerists are in your area and in your price range and then seek out their advice on which artists are worth investing in.” Therefore, go out and source the opinions of the people paid to know and educate yourself about the details of the art industry.

You can also consider consulting an art consultant. Learn more about how an art advisor can help you build a collection you'll treasure for years. 

Know your focus.

You don't necessarily need a theme to unify your collection. But, early on, it may be helpful to make some decisions about what era or style you want to focus on (such as modern art, pop art, etc).

Cost is another factor. Will you collect a few high-end pieces or build a larger collection with affordable pieces?

“The trend of contemporary art collecting is definitely for works by living artists, or for those of the relatively recent past – from the late 19th century at the earliest,” explains Tietze. “Works by earlier artists – the so-called ‘old masters’ - are extremely rare nowadays, because most are already in—often public—collections.”

Alternatively, there is no harm to buck the trend and go for artists who are out of fashion. Take Amadeo Modigliani for example. Up until recently, he ‘has not had a major reputation among art historians and critics.’ His paintings are now worth a substantial $100 million.

Trust your own taste.

While you may think it’s best to target artwork that is expected to appreciate in value, you can also buy pieces solely according to your own taste. To build a really personal collection, allow your heart to choose the art, not always your head.

The best art collections are ones that marry a passion witha knowledge of art. While art can be a lucrative investment, it’s important that you genuinely appreciate and admire the pieces in your collection. Do your research, identify what you like and get collecting!

Don't wait to safeguard your growing collection. Artwork Archive offers must-have tools for collectors looking to organize and protect their collections of all sizes—from a few pieces to hundreds.

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