5 Steps to Building a “ Real” Art Collection

[written by Joan Philip]

A recent letter to a major home decorating magazine noted that the writer had managed to successfully renovate her home and put in place many of the big decorating elements like paint and furniture, but was completely stumped as to what to put on the walls. She asked how to approach building an art collection — where to go, how to chose, what to spend.

Many people are overwhelmed by this. Having lived with mass produced poster art, often held over from student days, they are ready to move on to enjoying art that is one-of-a-kind and speaks to their heart.

So how do you start?

1. Look and Learn
Get out and see as much art as you can. Go to galleries, museums and art shows. One of the best ways to educate yourself about art and what you like is to go to local art shows and talk to the makers of the art on display. Virtually all major centers have them. For example, Toronto’s Don Valley Art Club (www.donvalleyartclub.com) holds two major ten-day shows each year where a wide array of original art is for sale at very affordable prices, and visitors can meet and talk to the artists.

2. Have a Theme
Having an idea of the kind of art that appeals to you will help you make decisions about which piece best suits your needs, and reflects your personality and interests. Look at art that tells your story and reflects your dreams. You can stick with one style of art, such as landscapes or abstract, or you can mix it up. But your collection should reflect you.

3. Start Small
Sometimes it is easier to appreciate all the elements in a painting that appeal to you when the picture is of smaller dimension. These paintings are often more affordable as well, and easier to fit into your home.

4. Have a Budget
As you spend time looking and learning, you will get a much better idea of the costs associated with the art and the artists that appeal to you. Decide what you can afford. There is a wide range of pricing in the art world, but buying local, directly from the artists will offer you not only the chance to acquire art that you love, but to stay within a smaller budget while supporting the artists in your midst.

5. Feel the Love
Art is not an asset, like stocks and bonds. Art tells a story, touches your heart, makes you think. It comes from the mind and heart of the artist into your life and becomes something new. Take your time. Enjoy the process.