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9 Tips for Becoming a Smart Art Collector

These 9 tips will help you build your dream art collection. Enjoy

Building an art collection for your home, office, or clients is an exciting opportunity to curate your ideal environment. To acquire objects that bring you joy. These nine tips will help you make wise and informed choices.


1) Trust Your Instincts (a.k.a. Buy What You Like)

When you look at a piece of art, ask yourself these questions: Does the piece speak to you? Does it make you feel something deeply? Does it seem to demand your time and attention? A close friend of mine once bought a stunning abstract figure because she had a visceral reaction when she first laid eyes on it –it made her physically shake. I myself bought a large figurative portrait after it literally stopped me in my tracks –I backed my car up in the middle of a busy street to get a closer look at it in a gallery window, and immediately went in to purchase the piece. If your gut is telling you there’s something special about this piece, trust your instincts and make the plunge.


2) Look At a Lot of Art

Look at modern, classical, figurative, realist, abstract, photography, mixed media, visit museums, galleries, artist sites and blogs. The point is, immerse yourself in art. This is the only way to get a sense of your personal preferences. Pay attention to what pulls you in and what disinterests you. Soon enough, you’ll start noticing trends in your taste, which will help narrow your field of focus and make the selection process that much easier. Museums for the most part will provide an education in the past. Very important. Galleries provide an education in what sells. Artists selling directly are the new frontier but harder to find. Bookmark, follow, and sign up for newsletters from artist who’s work you like.


3) “See” It In Your Space

That abstract photograph looks terrific in the gallery or online, but it may stick out like a sore thumb when put in context with the rest of your decor and furniture. Do the legwork and take a picture of where you’d like the piece to hang in your home. Then utilize available resources to “see”it in your space. For instance, there is a free app called Walnut that allows users to visualize artwork in their space by automatically sizing the piece to your space(currently only available for iPhones and iPads). But it can be as simple as taking a picture of the desired hanging location, opening the picture in a program like Photoshop or MS Paint, and then superimposing a picture of the artwork to digitally “hang” it. Lastly never forget to measure. Measure your space and know the exact measurements of the artwork.


4) Rent and Buy

However, there is no substitute to physically placing the artwork in your space. If you aren’t 100% sure that a particular piece will suit your home or business, avoid buyer’s remorse and ask if rental or a guarantee is an available option. Typically, only art rental agencies and major galleries offer these services, and some artists selling directly. At the end of the period, renters can either choose to purchase and keep the painting, or return it. Corporate buyers looking to rent art for their office should note that art rentals are a deductible business expense. There are obvious benefits to renting vs. owning.

  • Not committing permanent wall space or large sums of money up front,
  • Switching up the artwork on a regular basis,
  • Stretching your budget further for higher quality pieces that would normally be too expensive, and
  • Potentially deducting your passion for art as a business expense.

 Agencies and galleries generally calculate their rental fees based on the value of the artwork and the length of the contract. Fees can range greatly, from as little as $24/month up to and beyond $3,500/year. Rental periods can range from 3-6 months and generally cap at around 2 years. Also ask if there is an investment option. Would the seller like to retain a certain value in the art piece for a reduced amount? This can reduce the cost and provide an interesting investment vehicle.


5) Collect and Cycle. Mix it up

If you see what you like and it fits your space, buy it. Intersperse these “forever” pieces with rentals to keep your collection fresh and reflective of your changing tastes. Some pieces will coexist peacefully with each other, and others will conflict. Is that fuchsia piece you bought ten years ago starting to look dated alongside your newer acquisitions? Better to return it when the rental period is over. Some rental agencies also give you the option to swap pieces every so often in your contract.


6) Gift With Care

When you have a larger collection with artworks piled in closets and tucked away under staircases, it may be tempting to start gifting paintings to family and friends. However, art preferences are intensely personal. Try not to force your tastes upon others, and never assume that your beloved fuchsia abstract is sure to become Aunt Tracy’s beloved fuchsia abstract. If you would like to start gifting your paintings, allow the intended recipient(s) look through your collection and select their favourites.


7) Allocate an Artwork Budget and Adjust Accordingly

When I was younger, I owned a duplex and rented to an older couple upstairs. One day, they invited me into their apartment and I quickly understood their decision to rent rather than own a home. Beautiful paintings by well-known artists were hanging throughout. I am by no means an investment expert, but it was clear to me that this older couple had made the decision to trade home ownership for another worthwhile investment –high-quality artworks that would only increase in value and offer a good long-term return. Whether you follow this couple’s long term approach or whether you choose to make more impulsive purchases for pieces that you simply must own, find the purchasing method that works for you.


8) Be aware of picture fatigue

Be it on line, at a museum, art show or in a gallery if you see too many pieces your brain doesn’t have time to react emotionally in any deep way. It just scans for “fight or flight” options and moves on. I see this with patrons at art shows. They have seen too much and are just moving on with a casual glance. On line galleries can be the same.


9) Get Free Stuff

Many art shows, events, and especially charities ask artists to donate artwork for their cause. Many do and you can find fantastic bargains at silent auctions, fundraisers, or even afrom rtists. Many of my artist friends have done pieces they feel are not good, or they don’t like them. Many just paint over them, but sometimes you can ask your favourite artist if she/he has anything in the rejects pile. You may have to ask more than once, and you may find a gem.


Building Your Art Collection

At the end of the day, the most rewarding aspect of buying artworks is to enjoy the pieces and share this delight with friends and family. A carefully curated collection can add atmosphere and life to any space and can be enjoyed for years to come.



Copyright © 2018 Maciek Peter Kozlowski Art