Whether you have a newfound love of art or are merely just fed up with the empty walls in your apartment, starting an art collection from scratch can be dizzying.
But there’s no wrong way to collect art. We spoke with insiders from the New York art scene to get tips on how to get started.
The best way to prep for collecting is to simply see as much art as you can and take note of what you like.
Auction previews and art fairs are great places for novices to explore because both offer a wide variety of work in one place. You also get to meet a lot of the dealers and gallerists in person.
“You sort of see the people,” said Kirsten Bengtson, sales director at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. “[You can see] if they’re people that you feel like you could work with directly.”
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED
The snooty gallerist guarding her white-box fortress of art is a common cliche, but, in reality, galleries want you to buy art.
“It’s very exciting even for an established gallery and especially for a younger gallery to find a new collector whose name is not spread all over the art world,” said Paul Morris, of the annual Armory art fair.
MAKE A BUDGET
“There are galleries at every price point,” said art adviser Pearl Albino. And generally newer galleries will offer more affordable works.
But “affordable” can often mean it costs multiple thousands of dollars.
To find works priced in the hundreds, look for small-batch prints. Or you could try your luck at a no-reserve auction.
Ginette Lospinoso of Christie’s said that pieces at the auction house’s Interiors sale may go for $200.
Beyond aesthetics, before you buy a piece, you should consider the artist’s reputation and career trajectory.
“You should ask yourself, ‘Have they been in group shows? Who are their peers? [What movement] do curators think they’re a part of?’” Morris said.
These facts can help you pursue works that stand to increase in value and enhance your reputation as a collector to watch.
CONSIDER A THEME
New York’s gallery scene is enormous. In Chelsea alone there are more then 100 galleries between 22nd and 26th Streets. Figuring out what appeals to you among that many options can overwhelm you. One one way to around this is to collect by theme, Bengtson said.
Jen Bekman, of 20x200 gallery, agreed. “Other things that you’re interested in — an animal, your favorite sport, a movie or a book, or even your favorite color — can serve as entry points for looking at work,” she said. “Start with the things you know and love.”
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
“If you feel like you’re out of the loop, maybe you need to find ways of getting into the loop,” Morris said.
This includes forging personal connections in the community, whether it’s by befriending the artists at gallery openings or attending open studio tours.
In the end, those who get the most reward out of collecting are truly passionate about it. So feel free to disregard any or all of this advice.
As Bekman said, “Buy art because you love it and want to live with it.”