How to Build an Art Collection

Art collecting is not just for the rich and famous – it’s a pleasure and a pastime able to be enjoyed by anyone. The challenge of seeking out new works, the thrill of discovering new works that speak to you, and the joy of adding another desired piece to your collection, are all part of what makes collecting art an enjoyable and stimulating pursuit.

Collecting works by contemporary artists is also comparatively easy and affordable. You’re free to start or resume collecting whenever you wish, to set your acquisition targets as broadly or narrowly as you desire, and to determine for yourself how few or how many resources to commit to what interests you.

To start you on your way, below are some key tips for building your own art collection:

* Look and learn: The more informed you are on a subject, the more comfortable you will become with it. View as much original art as you can – call in regularly to the art galleries in your area, and visit those further afield whenever you have opportunity. Talk with gallery staff about works or artists of particular interest to you, subscribe to gallery mailing lists, and supplement your art viewing by reading art reviews and commentaries. Libraries and booksellers will generally have a variety of art books and magazines available, covering a variety of topics – focus first on the ones relevant to the artist or type of art in which you’re most interested. By spending some time looking and learning, you will develop an eye for what you like, and the confidence to trust your own opinions.

* Listen to your heart: The best reason for buying an artwork is because you like it. Everyone has their own opinion as to what constitutes “good art”, and fashions will change over time, but you have the freedom to decide what works bring you pleasure, and which to make part of your collection. By all means listen to the opinions of others, consider whether or not a work is good value, and find out as much as you can about a piece and the artist before committing to a purchase - but, ultimately, the artworks in your collection should be ones that you enjoy looking at.

* Only buy originals: While it's cheaper and easier to buy a commercially produced art print from a home décor store, reproductions of an artwork rarely do justice to the colours, depth, details and textures of the original. Compare, for example, a photo of an oil painting with the original oil painting itself – you will discover much more interest, texture and depth in the original than in the photographic print. Acquiring original works also creates a better prospect that some of the works in your collection will increase in value (a benefit less often enjoyed by buyers of mass produced art prints!)

* Collect work by living artists: Acquiring the works of contemporary artists is an exciting endeavour – you are supporting the career of a living artist, whose development you can follow over subsequent years. You are likely to meet and talk with other people who know the artist personally, and you may also have opportunity to meet the artist yourself. It is also interesting to track the value of the artist’s works over time, particularly if the artist’s works becomes increasingly sought after and rise in value. A number of major art collections have begun, or been extended, by the purchase of works of artists who were “unknown” at the time.

* Mix it up: While it’s important to understand your personal preferences, maintaining an open mind toward new artists, media and styles will assist you in building a more interesting, diversified collection. For example, you may wish to actively seek out works of varying sizes, to add sculptures to a collection of paintings, or to review your collection from time to time to consider how best to complement or expand upon the works you already have.

* Know your budget: It’s important to know your budget, and stick to it. Original, interesting works are available in a range of prices, so there’s no need to incur financial stress by spending more than you can afford. Focus on works within your current means - smaller sized works, unframed works on paper, works shown in community galleries and works by young (unknown) artists may all come within the most modest of budgets. And, if you really must have that piece beyond your current means, ask whether layby or other payment plans are available.

* Keep records: Make note of interesting discoveries you make about an artist or works in which you’re interested, and keep written records of every work you acquire - the price, the date of purchase, the place you acquired it, the work's title, the artist's name and the relevant media. Also, keep your receipts. This information is not just of historical interest; it can also be of value in future, if you need to establish a work's provenance (ownership history) or authenticity.

* Don't sweat investment potential: The key to enjoying the process of building your collection, and building a collection you love, is to focus on the works that appeal to you. When you remove the pressure of needing to always make a sound financial investment, then you are free to acquire the works you love without fear or guilt. Even if a work you treasure is unlikely to increase in value, then you will still have gained enjoyment from seeing, selecting and living with it – and any increase in value will be a bonus.

* Just do it - buy your first piece: When you purchase your first work, you have begun your art collection! Your chosen work need not be expensive, large, or even of interest to anyone other than yourself - what matters is that you enjoy the work, and have begun the adventure of building your own collection. We wish you every success on your journey. 


For further information contact ZIMMERMAN - www.zimmerman.co.nz / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.