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How-To: Collect Art, Part One

If it hasn't arrived already, there'll come a point in your life when you grow out of your poster phase and begin to collect original artwork. A curated art collection puts the finishing touches on your decorating, and is a fool-proof way to personalize your home. But, buying a "collection" all at once won't add any intrigue to your home; it's the piecemeal effect that makes an impression. I have a few helpful tips for you to consider before you begin to fill up your walls and empty your wallet. The first step to starting a collection is to be studious about art (short of enrolling in art school). There are a lot of ways you can and should help yourself to learn all you can about art. To hear some of them,


  • Visit any and every museum, auction house, and gallery you can, and visit often. Don't miss an exhibit. Pick up pamphlets at museums and read them. Take guided tours.
  • Keep in touch. Join your local museums, and sign up for mailing lists or newsletters from museums, galleries, and artists you like. Attend any special events or lectures you hear about.
  • Talk art. Talk to friends, family, and other art collectors about their purchases, experiences, and sources for collecting.
  • Be informed. Talk to gallerists and art dealers about any pieces you're interested in. Learn what you can about the artists and styles, etc.
  • Visit art fairs and expositions that pass through town.
  • Read up. Add art blogs to your RSS feed, take out books from the library on art history, artists, and collecting, subscribe to art glossies, read critiques and reviews, etc.
  • Know your mediums. Obviously, the price of a piece has a lot to do with the artist, subject, history, and edition. But, the medium used also contributes to its value. From lowest to highest, it goes something like this: prints, drawings, watercolors, mixed medias, pastels, acrylics, and oils. Obviously, sculptures and more nontraditional artwork are on a different scale.
  • Once you've done the above, you should have a good idea about what you like and what's worth investing in. You should strengthen your eye before you curate a collection. Until then, don't be hasty with your purchases.


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