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Friday, January 17, 2014

How to: Starting out as an art collector, part 1

Usually when you think of an Art Collector, you think of very rich people in big cities, living in a big house or flat, with a lot of big, expensive paintings by famous artists.
Anyone can collect really good art, even if you are just a regular middle-class bloke with a small budget. Let's keep this discussion simple and start with some basics.

So, you like art, you want to buy art but don't start for fear of doing it wrong. Where to start?
Let's narrow this down a bit.
Subject, style, medium, artist. 
"Subject" is pretty self-explanatory- what is the art about? "Style" is how the subject was rendered- abstract, impressionistic, pop-surrealism, etc. "Medium" refers to the materials used to create the art. Is the work a sculpture or an acrylic painting? "Artist" is the particular artist or a group of artists, such as a regional style or recognized art school.
Many serious collectors like to stick to one of the above in order to give some cohesion to their collection. You can do the same if you like or just collect work that really moves you.

Let's start with SUBJECT.
Subject is often the easiest place to start for most people Like landscapes? Start collecting them.
Do you like urban cityscapes or animals? What about botanical drawings, self-portraits, forest scenes, European castles, song birds, indigenous people, or pure abstractions? With subject, you can stick to one or two and look for that subject in different mediums. You can also really get specific in your subject- not just coastal scenes, but historical photographs of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and Cannery Row in Monterey.

That can be up to your personal preference and often people collect multiple styles of once subject- animal subjects in many styles can create a varied collection that can be grouped by color or styles in different areas in your home of office as your collection grows.

Works on paper are usually more affordable than paintings and sculpture, so look for pastels, watercolors, etchings, photographs, and drawings. These are also perfect souvenirs from travel: you can roll up a drawing or etching into a tube and stash it in a suitcase. Better than buying yet another t-shirt and you can hand it down to your kids.

Start getting out to gallery openings and events where you live. It's a great away to meet local artists and learn about their work and get to know them. Knowing the "story behind the story" is exciting and fun. Emerging artists work is also very affordable, so look at smaller galleries, non-profit art schools, open studio tours and art walks.

Now what? If you really want to "get into art", start reading about art. Subscribe to some art magazines, take an art history class at your local community college. Set a budget and start buying work that really moves you. Don't forget to include funds for framing works, especially works on paper. Plan trips to artistic cities that have galleries you might like. Galleries in towns other than the big three art centers (New York, Santa Fe, Scottsdale) are often more affordable. Small towns often have excellent galleries and affordable work. Check out these towns for great art finds.

Look for "Starting out as an art collector, part 2" soon!

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