Know Your Tastes

While there are a small percentage of people buying on a speculative nature, most people are buying art because they have a connection with it. There is a desire to create a home and an identity through art,

All you need is a true sense of what you like.

Think about how many hours you’ve spent walking through museums, galleries, art fairs, or following social feeds, watching for trends and learning various stories about historical pieces. Which subjects speak to you? Are you pulled toward one medium, like oil paintings or finely-painted porcelain objects, or another, like encaustic photographs?

This is where you start.

Know the Market

This step is crucial. In order to get a fair price and understand what’s valuable in the art world, you have to put in the work to research the art market.

Visit as many galleries, art fairs and museums in your local area as possible. This can help to get a feel for the market and to identify which art movements or styles appeal to you most.

Start asking questions and listen to what other collectors, gallery owners, art dealers and historians are saying. Capture bits of wisdom whenever you can, and you’ll invest wisely.

Build Relationships

Building relationships with curators, consultants, conservators, directors for community arts, and gallerists can give you access to information on new artists and trends.

One of the best ways to get started as a collector is to first become a patron.

Set a Budget

Your budget is an essential starting point. A few key factors can affect the final sale price of an artwork, including a direct purchase from an artist is typically less expensive than buying from a gallery.

Prices in the secondary market, when a piece is sold again to a new collector, are typically higher.

High-end galleries that show established artists traditionally charge more than less-established galleries that show young and emerging artists. Factors such as scarcity, materials and media, and period during an artist’s career all influence the overall price of an artwork.

Remember to factor in costs like:

Specialty insurance policies

Packing and shipping

Framing and preservation

Buyer’s premiums on auction purchases

Any special care instructions

Consultancy fees

Reach out to other professionals

Just like any industry, the art world is a multi-faceted network of experts. From appraisers to conservators to wealth management firms, these professional consultants help you manage the numerous details of your collection. Sometimes you can find a specialist in an area you never expected to find, but they may offer profitable advice.

We recommend reaching out to the following:

Art Appraisers

Art Insurance Agents

Wealth Management Advisors

Art Restorers

Art Conservators

Art Advisors & Consultants

Art advisors can help you build your collection’s value with their industry knowledge, relationships, and professional experience.

We discuss in more detail what an art advisor can offer your collection in the Managing Your Collection section.

Get Your Feet Wet

Auctions aren’t for everyone, and negotiating with a gallerist can be intimidating. But, you don’t have to make a purchase when it’s your first time buying. Go in for a trial run before you intend to actually make a bid. When there’s no pressure to buy, you can get more comfortable with the climate and process, which will help you feel confident and collected once you’re ready to start bidding.

Assess Before You Buy

While falling in love with an art piece often motivates us to buy it, an experienced collector reviews a list of items before taking the plunge, ensuring the piece is authentic and priced accordingly.

Make an effort to see each potential piece of art in person, especially if you found it online. Also take into consideration:

The artist: Find out his or her background, reputation, accomplishments, and community involvement. Consider their current fan base and if their prices fit your budget.

The art dealer: Work with someone you trust to give you a fair price, and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. Do your homework and double-check the dealer’s paperwork.

Acquire Documentation

Before buying a piece, secure certificates of authenticity and all provenance documents.

Ideal provenance documents the ownership history of a piece all the way back to the artist’s studio. This information is crucial to prove authenticity, increase value, and give collectible significance to the piece through the story it tells.

When you purchase an artwork, you should receive all original documents from the dealer, complete with official signatures. Create copies of these documents, and be sure to store them securely.