“Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping.” Bo Derek
As overwhelming as the idea of buying art can initially be, at its heart, it's actually a very simple enterprise. If you are considering becoming an art collector, you will be doing it for one of two reasons you will probably already know: for investment purposes, or simply because you love it.
All You Need Is Love...
Not expecting to make any money actually gives you a huge amount of freedom as an art collector. You don't need to second-guess your motives or tastes, instead simply gunning for what kind of art you really love.
That doesn't make it a completely lawless land, however. You will first need to be honest with yourself about what art really interests you - is it drawing, painting, photography, printmaking or sculpture? Abstract or figurative? Nudes or landscapes? Vanilla or chocolate? Mmmm, chocolate…
Another Brick In The Wall
Consider all of those knotty practical factors, too. How much room do you have to accommodate and/or display artwork? Do you have a given space already in mind? Are you intending to display the piece at home, at work or somewhere entirely different?
Will an artwork with certain colours work better in your intended space than another? Also, if you are purchasing the piece as a gift, do you know enough about the recipient's tastes to be sure they will actually like it?
Purchasing Art As An Investment...
This mode of art buying necessitates a very different mindset.
Names Darling! Names!
You will certainly need to thoroughly research the most lucrative artists. Of the many millions of artists around the world, only a tiny fraction are of superstar status, and therefore likely to command hefty prices.
If you are buying art for investment purposes, try to purchase early in an artist's career - generally their 20s or 30s - when their resale values still have the potential to climb alongside their artistic reputation. Go to lesser-known galleries to see which artists are just starting to become publicly prominent, and get to know the artist personally if you can.
Interested in knowing more about how you can research your next investment piece? Read our blog "Practical Tips for Researching Artists and Prices", otherwise known as "How to Become a Professional Stalker". I see you!
One Way or Another, I’m Gonna Find You
Different places to purchase art undoubtedly offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, so you should carefully research to ensure you know exactly what you are getting into.
Many people may look to purchase from a gallery, for instance, which can be a great way of getting to experience the piece 'in person' first. However, they can also be intimidating places.
You might instead look to art fairs, where you are sure to see plenty of up-and-coming artists, although the intensity and temporary nature of such events may leave you little time to make an informed decision on the purchase of a particular work.
From auctions and graduate degree shows to online art portals, there are so many more ways to buy art than we have room to investigate in detail here - so be sure to take your time in finding your bearings when contemplating when and where to start, or add to, your art collection.
I Need You In My Life…
How Should You Buy?
How you buy your desired artwork depends in part on where you buy it - but the process is not always as simple as just pointing to a work in a gallery and expressing your interest.
If you're buying at an auction the process may seem straightforward enough - you just need to make the highest bid - but we would always suggest you attend some auctions as a mere observer beforehand, so you can comfortably make bids when the time comes to buy for real. PS: don’t forget to factor in the buyer’s premium (a percentage of the selling price) for winning bids.
What if you are purchasing from a gallery? Again, it's a seemingly simple process, but feel free to ask for a discount on the stated price, even if you would actually be happy to pay the full amount. After all, the gallery might be eager to build a long-standing relationship with you. Be mindful though, whilst some galleries are happy to accommodate, not all are able to.
Who You Gonna Call?
Before buying, consider consulting a professional advisor, valuator or collector for a second opinion, including on the authenticity of the seller and the price you are paying. Also feel free to ask the seller questions about the artwork's provenance and the other works they sell.
Buying art might seem to be a minefield, but with the above starting points in your arsenal, you can confidently purchase pieces that will grace your collection for a long time to come. Now, back to chocolate. Mmmmm, chocolate!