Collecting Art: Where to Start?

Art is all around us.  From the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, since the early 17th century, fine art refers to a skill used to express the artist's creativity, or to engage the audience's aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the finer things.  Art is something that stimulates an individual's thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses.  When you're starting your art collection, or you're ready to make your first major purchase of fine art, I think it's important to keep this definition in mind.  The artwork you choose to surround yourself with will enrich your life and should be your primary motivation in purchasing a piece of art and/or building a collection.  My biggest piece of advice when purchasing art or building a collection, is don't be afraid to pull the trigger.  I've seen it time and time again, people are always haunted by that painting or sculpture they didn't buy rather than the piece they did purchase.  I've only seen a few instances where patrons had buyer's remorse after acquiring a painting, and it usually involved one too many drinks at an auction.  Even then, the acquisition makes for a great story!  Here are a few other tips to help you on your art buying journey:
  • Visit Galleries & Museums:  Visit as many art galleries and museums as you can.  Museum and gallery staff can be an incredibly useful resource in your art education.  The more works of art you look at, the better trained your eye becomes or at the very least, your taste in art becomes more defined, because you know what you like and don't like, and why.
  • Read Books:  Take the initiative to learn about art by reading art history books, art collecting books, and books that feature specific artists.
  • Read Art Blogs.  There are thousands of blogs on the internet, and they can give you a variety of different perspectives on hot artists, trends in the market, and upcoming events.  If you like someone in the business, don't hesitate to follow their blog and share it with friends.
  • Subscribe to Art Magazines:  Subscribe to art magazines to keep up with current events and trends in the art world.  For western and wildlife art, some of my favorite magazines include:  Western Art Collector, Western Art & Architecture, Southwest Art, and Art of the West.
  • Join Gallery Mailing Lists:  Don't be hesitant to get on gallery mailing lists.  You'll always be up to date on openings, special events, and most importantly, new works that are available.
  • Art Fairs:  Attend art fairs and exhibitor shows.  Not only will you be able to view a lot of different art, but you'll also meet people with a common interest in collecting art.
  • Speaking of people, the friendships you make in the art world can be terrific.  From gallery owners and dealers, to museum curators to other collectors.  All of whom can be great resources in learning more about collecting art.
  • Finally, Pull the Trigger!  If you come across a painting that moves you, reminds you have something joyful, or sums up a trip you've taken with a loved one, then buy it!


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