Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Want to dip your toe into art collecting? I know, art collecting might seem intimidating. You have to be rich, go to fancy galleries where everyone sips champagne and have a degree in art history. Oh, and you better be able to interpret the meaning behind abstract paintings. And don't forget you'll be quizzed - is it an avant-guarde art installation or actual trash on the floor? Doesn’t sound very fun? Well, don’t worry, I just made all of that up. Yes, some art can be expensive and yes it can be weird – and yes, it can be hard to know where to start. But I promise, once you buy your first piece, a whole new world will open and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
Original art has a special energy about it that mass-produced pieces will never have. A living, breathing human used their hands, their heart and years of dedication to their craft to create that piece you love….the only piece just like it in the world. When you connect with an original art piece and add it to your home, you become part of an artist’s story and they become a part of yours since these pieces are often kept for a lifetime and even get passed down to the next generation. You simply can’t find that on the shelf at your local Target.
So, first question: where do you start? As I just mentioned, art can be deeply personal. You don’t need to be highly knowledgeable about fine art to get started. All you must know is what appeals to you and realize that it may take some time to figure that out. I recently interviewed artist Ali Leja who suggested that new collectors start their search online. Sites like Etsy, Instagram and Pinterest are brimming with all types of artists at all price points. Start following them on your favorite social sites and save or “pin” what you love. Over time you’ll start to see trends in what you save and can get a better feel for your aesthetic. Another benefit of following artists on social is that you’ll get to learn their stories, see their processes and grow your appreciation for their artwork even more. I love being able to tell my guests stories about the artists who created the pieces that hang on my walls.
Another fun way to discover new artwork is to go to in-person events. That might be tough during a pandemic, but once things get back to normal then make it a priority. Many communities have local affairs like monthly “art walks” or galleries that host monthly shows. Don’t let the movies fool you – sure, you may encounter the occasional snob, however, most of these events are very welcoming to newcomers and event staff are more than happy to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about the artists, their techniques or their influences. Matter of fact, you may be able to ask the artists yourself since many artists tend to show-up at these events. .
Art festivals are another excellent chance to see tons of work first-hand, meet the artists and score pieces at incredible prices. Galleries usually take a 50% commission on art sales which forces the artist to double his or her price to make the necessary profit. That’s why any opportunity to buy directly from the artist, like festivals, will usually result in the best price. Want another simple strategy for getting the best prices on art? In a recent interview with artist Kristin Cooney, she suggested finding an artist you love and jumping on his or her email list. Artists will often send out exclusive discounts or other special perks to their collectors that way.
Even though there are several ways to get excellent pricing, original art may still be just out of reach for some budgets. If 2-D work is on your wish list, Kristin offered another great suggestion with purchasing high-quality, limited edition art prints. Artists will often reproduce their most popular originals as giclees which are fine art prints created using a high-definition printing process. Keep in mind that limited editions (reproductions where printing is limited to a specific quantity) are more valuable than open editions (reproductions with no print limit.) Kristin also showed us how she hand-embellishes some of her prints so that she can offer affordable options that still have a touch of originality.
Yes, original art can be more expensive than mass-produced pieces, but I feel it’s well worth the costs to have this extra layer of “life” added to your home, even if it's a small piece that sits on a shelf. Surrounding yourself with art that you connect with will elevate your spirit daily and showcase your personality in a memorable way. How do you put a price tag on that? If you would like to meet a few artists and deepen your appreciation for the creative process, then join us at “When Artists Drink Cocktails” for fun conversations and more.