Art buying can be intimidating. And no, there isn’t (yet) an official “Art Buying for Dummies” book. We often stay away from buying art for a number of reasons – I don’t have enough money to buy art. Why would I spend money on art? My house isn’t that fancy. I don’t know anything about art; I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m sure you could add your own objections to that list. But if art is beauty and we were made to enjoy beauty, then shouldn’t we all want to own some art? Our lives are better because of art, so why not bring that art home?
Let’s go from uninitiated newbie to experienced art collector in five easy steps. Are you with me?
The first rule of art buying is….education, education, education
Buying art isn’t real estate, but the first thing to keep in mind is worth repeating. Unless you are an artist yourself or grew up among artists, it’s not surprising that you would find art buying to be a bit intimidating. So get out there and educate yourself!
Visit a museum, browse a gallery. Every Friday on our Facebook page we feature an art event in a different city; take advantage of those suggestions. Sometimes, like this week, we feature a nationwide event – so get out there and explore! More and more cities are featuring gallery walks, open studios, art festivals; Google is your friend here – search for art events near you and see what you find.
As you visit museums, galleries, studios, or festivals, ask questions. Take the opportunity to meet the artist whenever you can. Talk to the helpful docents at the museum; read the art labels on the various works. When you find a work that catches your eye, spend some time with it. Take advantage of sites like this one and read about art. Expose yourself to as much art in different venues and media as you can. You might surprise yourself in what you like!
After education comes preparation
Obviously, most of us are not in the market for a rare work from VanGogh. Nor do most of us have space in our homes for an enormous mural. Maybe you like abstract, while I prefer landscapes. You might have a large blank wall above your fireplace, or a smaller blank space in your entryway. You want to find a work of art that fits you, your space, and your budget.
Thanks to the beauty of the internet, you can even see what a piece of art would look like on your wall, experiment with framing, and matting options, and even change sizes (if you’re looking at a print). If your budget is tight, consider support an emerging artist (I think I might know one….), or starting off with a print first. If you set aside a small amount of money, say, just the price of a fancy coffee, you’d be surprised how fast that fund will add up and you will soon have the funds to purchase something far more lasting than a latte.
Now that your preparation is done, it’s time for some art buying exploration
There’s no need to buy the first thing that catches your eye. Not every piece out there (or every artist) is a fit for you. Take some time to get to know a particular artist. Visit their website, or even better, visit their studio. Most artists are happy to welcome interested patrons into their creative space. Subscribe to artist blogs (like this one) and get to know that stories behind the art. Often it’s those stories that capture our imagination and develop a real connection with a particular piece of art.
And now comes the consummation
Buy what you love. Don’t worry if someone else doesn’t see why you love it – think of that as an opportunity to have a great conversation. But don’t just think about what you love now, think of all you’ve learned in this art buying journey, and buy something that you will grow into loving as you explore that work of art over the years. Buy art that creates the vibe you want for your home, office, or wherever it will be displayed. But do buy something. We can learn, and plan, and browse for years and never bring anything home. Take that “art fund” money you’ve been saving and go buy something amazing!
The best part is the last step…gratification.
You’ve done a lot of hard work to find just the right piece of art – getting to know the artist, learning the story behind the particular piece, saving money, purchasing that special piece. Now hang it, display it, and enjoy it! We live in a world that bombards us with noise, violence, ugliness; we need quiet, reflective beauty in our lives. Enjoy that art! And just maybe…start a fund again for your next piece!
So…are you with me?