How to start an art collection

We have expert tips to help you start at the very beginning of your gallery wall endeavors.

Published on March 29, 2018

Collecting art doesn’t have to be overwhelming—anyone with an appreciation for a great gallery wall can be a collector, whether you’re bidding during auctions at Sotheby’s, rummaging through giveaways at a garage sale, or just browsing the web looking for the best affordable art out there.

The key thing to remember? Collections take time. Here, Dara Deshe Segal, founder of Simply Framed, shares the fundamentals of becoming an amateur art connoisseur. Your walls will be more interesting before you know it.

Create a budget that works for you.

Figure out what works best within your means, because let’s face it: Art can be expensive.

Some friends have an annual art budget that is essentially play money, and they choose to spend their disposable income building a collection. Others are more interested in decorating their space. You need to discover where your priorities lie, and that can help you figure out how much art you’ll actually purchase. That said, you can also find plenty of prints for less than a few hundred dollars.

Work to save in other areas, if creating a gallery wall is your top priority.

You could also think of it like part of a balanced diet. Take the money that you would have spent on dessert, alcohol, or bottled water, and apply that toward building your art collection.

Make comparisons.

Sign up for newsletters to get first dibs on art from websites like The Posters, 20×200.com, Uprise Art, Instant Gallery, Eye Buy Art, Exhibition A, Artfully Walls, Tappan Collective, ArtStar, and Saatchi Art. You’ll be able to compare prices on similar pieces and styles you might like, while always staying up-to-date on new releases until you find just the piece you’re looking for.

Don’t forget about online galleries.

We live in an amazing time where there are a ton of online art galleries that curate and introduce fantastic artists, and sell both originals and limited edition prints. Check out a few of our favorites here.

Remember that originals can be affordable.

Once you find an artist whose work speaks to you, I recommend searching to see if that artist has his or her own online gallery set up, and checking there for originals or additional works. Originals are often more affordable than you might think.

We also recommend checking out CoCo Gallery, a service that connects you with artists who will create customized pieces of art just for you. Prices start at $300, which is relatively affordable for pieces such as these.

Don’t forget the frame.

It’s incredibly important to use acid-free materials when framing to prevent discoloration, and a UV-shielding glass or plexiglass. After all, you wouldn’t want your hard-found pieces to get damaged.

Avoid competition.

We’ve also observed that decorating styles change, so picking a frame that is timeless and can work from room to room is the safest bet. It gives you flexibility in the long run. This is especially important if you’re renting, as your home will constantly change.

Keep your art pieces away from the sun.

On that note, make sure to keep your pieces away from direct sunlight or moisture, in order to prevent discoloration or moldiness. In general, we recommend hanging the work away from direct sunlight.

Matching is overrated.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to match a room versus buying something that they love independently. Your piece of art should reflect who you are as a person, and that’s way more important than matching it to a space because you think it’ll look good. You won’t get the joy from your art that you should if you simply try to follow trends.

Live with it for a little bit.

If possible, see if you can “rent” a piece and let it hang in your home for a temporary period of time, so you can decide whether or not it works for you. Some galleries will allow you to install the work on consignment, so you have time to live with the work in your space.

Photographers are artists, too.

If the art you’ve seen isn’t speaking to you, maybe photos are more up your alley. Segal recommends Max Wanger, Ashley Woodson Bailey, Hamish Robertson, Anna Dalton Church, Dean West, Randal Ford, Drew Doggett, Kate Holstein, and KT Merry to start.

Learn to make concessions.

When merging an art collection with a significant other or roommate, I recommend laying down everything you already own on the floor (preferably a rug) to help visualize a salon-style gallery wall before you hang everything. If that’s not working, have an honest conversation about which pieces you can’t live without, and which pieces can be put into storage.

This story was originally published July 13, 2016. It has been updated with new information.

How strong is your museum’s website as part of the whole offer? Does it reflect your identity as an organisation? Does it appeal to your visitors? What does it really need? Are there trends to pay attention to? Others to ignore? What makes the site appealing? What mistakes can you avoid?If your work involves museum websites these will be questions you’ll have to tackle, whether you’re commissioning a new site or just trying to keep the current one healthy.

This post will take you through the essential ways in which your site needs to answer key visitor questions for 2017. First, we’ll spin through the process we used. Then, the main points: three key groups of questions your site needs to answer for your visitors.

Finally, a dive into the building blocks that help a site work particularly effectively. Hopefully, you’ll finish the post with a fresh perspective on your own site: you’ll be able to identify how to make it work better for your visitors and advocate for effective change as part of your organisation’s strategy. Of course, we threw some sites we built at Cogapp into the mix too.

Visitor-focused design — what good sites do

How strong is your museum’s website as part of the whole offer? Does it reflect your identity as an organisation? Does it appeal to your visitors? What does it really need? Are there trends to pay attention to? Others to ignore? What makes the site appealing? What mistakes can you avoid?If your work involves museum websites these will be questions you’ll have to tackle, whether you’re commissioning a new site or just trying to keep the current one healthy.

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Finally, a dive into the building blocks that help a site work particularly effectively. Hopefully, you’ll finish the post with a fresh perspective on your own site: you’ll be able to identify how to make it work better for your visitors and advocate for effective change as part of your organisation’s strategy. Of course, we threw some sites we built at Cogapp into the mix too.

How strong is your museum’s website as part of the whole offer? Does it reflect your identity as an organisation? Does it appeal to your visitors? What does it really need? Are there trends to pay attention to? Others to ignore? What makes the site appealing? What mistakes can you avoid?If your work involves museum websites these will be questions you’ll have to tackle, whether you’re commissioning a new site or just trying to keep the current one healthy.

On Exhibit: Lost Synagogues of Europe

This post will take you through the essential ways in which your site needs to answer key visitor questions for 2017. First, we’ll spin through the process we used. Then, the main points: three key groups of questions your site needs to answer for your visitors.

“He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a golden age.”

In view in the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery now through March 2019, Lost Synagogues of Europe is a collection of early twentieth-century postcards on Jewish themes, many of them depicting synagogues in Eastern Europe that were destroyed during World War II. The postcards come from the collection of Frantisek Banyai, a Prague-based entrepreneur and son of Holocaust survivors who began amassing the collection 40 years ago and continues his search today

Finally, a dive into the building blocks that help a site work particularly effectively. Hopefully, you ’ll finish the post with a fresh perspective on your own site: you’ll be able to identify how to make work better for your visitors and advocate for effective change as part of organisation’s strategy. Of course, we threw some sites we built at Cogapp into the mix too.

4 comments

Dive into the building blocks that help a site work particularly effectively. Hopefully, you’ll finish the post with a fresh perspective on your own site: you’ll be able to identify how to make work better for your visitors and advocate for effective.

The postcards come from the collection of Frantisek Banyai.

The postcards come from the collection of Frantisek Banyai, a Prague-based entrepreneur and son of Holocaust survivors who began amassing the collection 40 years ago and continues his search today.

Dive into the building blocks that help a site work particularly effectively. Hopefully, you’ll finish the post with a fresh perspective on your own site.

We have expert tips to help you start at the very beginning of your gallery wall endeavors.

Published on March 29, 2018

Collecting art doesn’t have to be overwhelming—anyone with an appreciation for a great gallery wall can be a collector, whether you’re bidding during auctions at Sotheby’s, rummaging through giveaways at a garage sale, or just browsing the web looking for the best affordable art out there.

The key thing to remember? Collections take time. Here, Dara Deshe Segal, founder of Simply Framed, shares the fundamentals of becoming an amateur art connoisseur. Your walls will be more interesting before you know it.

Create a budget that works for you.

Figure out what works best within your means, because let’s face it: Art can be expensive.

Some friends have an annual art budget that is essentially play money, and they choose to spend their disposable income building a collection. Others are more interested in decorating their space. You need to discover where your priorities lie, and that can help you figure out how much art you’ll actually purchase. That said, you can also find plenty of prints for less than a few hundred dollars.

Work to save in other areas, if creating a gallery wall is your top priority.

You could also think of it like part of a balanced diet. Take the money that you would have spent on dessert, alcohol, or bottled water, and apply that toward building your art collection.

Make comparisons.

Sign up for newsletters to get first dibs on art from websites like The Posters, 20×200.com, Uprise Art, Instant Gallery, Eye Buy Art, Exhibition A, Artfully Walls, Tappan Collective, ArtStar, and Saatchi Art. You’ll be able to compare prices on similar pieces and styles you might like, while always staying up-to-date on new releases until you find just the piece you’re looking for.

Don’t forget about online galleries.

We live in an amazing time where there are a ton of online art galleries that curate and introduce fantastic artists, and sell both originals and limited edition prints. Check out a few of our favorites here.

Remember that originals can be affordable.

Once you find an artist whose work speaks to you, I recommend searching to see if that artist has his or her own online gallery set up, and checking there for originals or additional works. Originals are often more affordable than you might think.

We also recommend checking out CoCo Gallery, a service that connects you with artists who will create customized pieces of art just for you. Prices start at $300, which is relatively affordable for pieces such as these.

Don’t forget the frame.

It’s incredibly important to use acid-free materials when framing to prevent discoloration, and a UV-shielding glass or plexiglass. After all, you wouldn’t want your hard-found pieces to get damaged.

Avoid competition.

We’ve also observed that decorating styles change, so picking a frame that is timeless and can work from room to room is the safest bet. It gives you flexibility in the long run. This is especially important if you’re renting, as your home will constantly change.

Keep your art pieces away from the sun.

On that note, make sure to keep your pieces away from direct sunlight or moisture, in order to prevent discoloration or moldiness. In general, we recommend hanging the work away from direct sunlight.

Matching is overrated.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to match a room versus buying something that they love independently. Your piece of art should reflect who you are as a person, and that’s way more important than matching it to a space because you think it’ll look good. You won’t get the joy from your art that you should if you simply try to follow trends.

Live with it for a little bit.

If possible, see if you can “rent” a piece and let it hang in your home for a temporary period of time, so you can decide whether or not it works for you. Some galleries will allow you to install the work on consignment, so you have time to live with the work in your space.

Photographers are artists, too.

If the art you’ve seen isn’t speaking to you, maybe photos are more up your alley. Segal recommends Max Wanger, Ashley Woodson Bailey, Hamish Robertson, Anna Dalton Church, Dean West, Randal Ford, Drew Doggett, Kate Holstein, and KT Merry to start.

Learn to make concessions.

When merging an art collection with a significant other or roommate, I recommend laying down everything you already own on the floor (preferably a rug) to help visualize a salon-style gallery wall before you hang everything. If that’s not working, have an honest conversation about which pieces you can’t live without, and which pieces can be put into storage.

This story was originally published July 13, 2016. It has been updated with new information.

By RA staff

Published 7 October 2020

There are over 1,100 works in the 2020 Summer Exhibition – and most of them are for sale. So how do you choose? Here are our top tips for buying your first pieces of original art.

An earlier version of this article was published in 2016.

The art market can seem like a daunting world, reserved for those with millions to spend on artworks by the biggest names in the business. But don’t be intimidated: everyone can enjoy buying and owning art in an affordable way. Whether it’s a painting, photographic print, monotype or etching, the key is to choose something you love and buy with confidence. Katherine Oliver, Art Sales Programme Curator at the RA, shares some tips on starting, building and displaying a collection.

Buy something for the simple reason that you love looking at it. As Norman Ackroyd RA said about collecting, “When it goes on the wall, can you live with it? Sometimes of course the question is, could you live without it – and if it’s no, that’s when you really go for something.”

Be discerning and brave. If you’re looking for something in a particular style, it’s better to settle on a good example of this type of work from an exciting emerging artist than to scrimp and save to buy something second-rate from someone better-known. There is great satisfaction in supporting the next generation of artists.

Instagram is becoming an increasingly important forum for artists, galleries and collectors, with a growing number of buyers purchasing works found through the platform. Follow contemporary commercial galleries to discover emerging artists and art fairs for key events in the arts calendar, from major fairs like Frieze to smaller events such as the London Original Print Fair. Speaking of prints…

Often major artists will produce printed editions in smaller, affordable batches, sold through non-profit making organisations like the RA, Aperture or the Whitechapel Gallery, so keep an eye out for collaborations and other limited-edition print projects they’re doing. Alongside our year-round Art Sales collections featuring many limited edition prints, the RA collaborates with Own Art – a government scheme which enables people to buy artworks with the help of an interest-free loan. On our Summer Exhibition Explorer, you can purchase both prints and framed editions from this year’s exhibiting artists.

How to start an art collection

Collecting art is a thing of rich and, well, older people. As young professionals who have just started climbing the very first step of our career ladder, art is not something that our 9-to-5 (maybe even low paying, for some) can’t afford. I mean, a fancy dinner with my friends already hurts my wallet. Then, just imagine me at an art auction: a young, broke person wearing thrifted clothes in a sea of rich people toting designer bags like bayong in the market.

Art is often associated to the rich, especially when we think of art in terms of artists like Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna, Ang Kiukok, Elmer Borlongan, and Ben Cab. Their works cost millions of pesos and a broke 20-something like me can’t afford any of it. Well, I don’t even have a million. But building a beautiful art collection isn’t just about age and money. Even before you earn six digits monthly, you can already start your art collection.

It’s not just about paintings

We often think of art collection with paintings in mind. Most of the time, these paintings are oil or acrylic on canvas. But art isn’t limited to the confines of painting. You can start your collection slowly with photographs, works on paper, and edition prints. According to Artsy, these works often cost lower than other works. While you’ll see these in the numerous art events we have in the Philippines, you can also find edition prints on sites like Saatchi, ArtPal, and Art Finder.

Support young artists

We are young, and it’s just logical to also start collecting works from young artists. In a sense, the art older people buy are expensive because they are works by the masters and big names in the art circuit. When you buy from a young emerging artist, it may generally be more affordable than those who have been in the scene much longer. If you have artist friends, this is also the best way to help them sustain their art.

Talk to gallerists and curators

Gallerists and curators are somewhat the gatekeepers of the art world. So when you visit an exhibit, try to talk to the curator. Aside from the fact that you’ll receive more insights about the works being exhibited, this is also a way to hone your taste and understand what’s hot in the art scene.

Think of it as an investment

Lately, I’ve been interested in investing in the stock market. I don’t fully understand how it works yet. But it’s not really to look at graphs and tables. Art, on the other hand, is also an investment like stocks. But unlike stocks, the good thing about art is it’s beautiful to look at. In a way, it enriches your space. On that note, buy the art that you like. These works will be hanging on your wall, anyway.

Set a budget

Okay, so you’re now on your way to the Art Fair and you’re ready to spend all of your savings on one single piece of art. But remember, your art collection can’t feed you. That piece of art will be up on your wall for quite a while before its worth increases. So, it’s best to set a budget that you’d willingly spend on art. Don’t spend more than what you’ve set. In this way, you’ll be more careful in selecting the work you’d purchase.

Joining an arts collective can help you advance your arts career in many ways. A collective will offer networking and collaboration opportunities, events and exhibitions, advocacy, and even shared studio space and discounts off materials.

But what if there isn’t an arts collective in your city? Or, what if the ones that DO exist don’t accept new members, or don’t cater to your medium or style?

Quick announcement – EmptyEasel has created a quicker, easier way for artists to have their own art website. Click here to learn more and get a simple art website of your own!

Well, then it’s time to start your own! Here’s how to go about it:

First, know what it is!

An arts collective is a group of artists, curators and supporters who work together to support and promote the work of every member of the collective. Usually this is through shared workspace and materials, marketing and promotional efforts, advocacy, and collaborative works. Everyone who is part of the collective jointly shares costs, benefits and risks.

Second, establish a broad network.

In order to create a solid artist’s collective, you need to first establish a network or arts contacts in your city. This can include other artists who you want to join your collective, but also other professionals who your collective can draw on for help – curators, gallery owners, businesspeople, suppliers, etc. Joining local networking groups and attending artist events is a great way to expand your network.

Once you’ve got this network established, start talking to these artists and professionals about the possibility of starting a collective. Learn who is interested, what they want from the collective, and what they’d be willing to contribute.

Third, brainstorm the details of your collective.

Think about how your arts collective will operate. There are many different options, so you need to define the nature of your arts collective before you begin recruiting members.

Look to other collectives for inspiration—how are they set up? How do they obtain funding? Do they share studio space? What promotional ideas do they have? How do new members join? How do they deal with a member who is not pulling their weight?

Think about an overarching theme (or mission statement) for your collective. It might be about inspiring the local community, or about creating art that has a positive impact on the environment, or anything else!

Having a theme or mission statement will help you with recruitment—you’ll only be looking for artists whose work supports your theme.

Fourth, advertise your arts collective.

Advertise your artists collective on local art websites, at art centers, and in art publications. Remember all those contacts you were storing? Email them all and let them know about the creation of the collective.

Invite artists and other interested parties to an initial meeting to discuss ideas and the direction of the collective. Allow everyone a chance to talk and share ideas. If possible, invite along an artist from another arts collective to talk about how their collective works and the benefits of forming a collective.

At this meeting you can also decide on roles for various people and assign jobs, such as researching studio spaces or trying to obtain a materials discount.

Fifth, get to work!

Now that you’ve got a dedicated team, it’s time to begin getting some of your initiatives off the ground. Remember to delegate tasks to the members of the collective and hold regular meetings to ensure that goals are being achieved.

You may or may not continue to be the driving force behind the collective. Ideally, it will grow to have a life of its own. The important thing is that you all work together to promote and support each others work. . . do that, and you’ll all reap the benefits!

GET EMPTYEASEL IN YOUR INBOX

We’ll send you articles & tutorials right as we publish them, so you never miss a post! Unsubscribe here at any time.

NOTE: You may also be interested in EE’s step-by-step drawing guide for artists. Click below to learn more!

Joining an arts collective can help you advance your arts career in many ways. A collective will offer networking and collaboration opportunities, events and exhibitions, advocacy, and even shared studio space and discounts off materials.

But what if there isn’t an arts collective in your city? Or, what if the ones that DO exist don’t accept new members, or don’t cater to your medium or style?

Quick announcement – EmptyEasel has created a quicker, easier way for artists to have their own art website. Click here to learn more and get a simple art website of your own!

Well, then it’s time to start your own! Here’s how to go about it:

First, know what it is!

An arts collective is a group of artists, curators and supporters who work together to support and promote the work of every member of the collective. Usually this is through shared workspace and materials, marketing and promotional efforts, advocacy, and collaborative works. Everyone who is part of the collective jointly shares costs, benefits and risks.

Second, establish a broad network.

In order to create a solid artist’s collective, you need to first establish a network or arts contacts in your city. This can include other artists who you want to join your collective, but also other professionals who your collective can draw on for help – curators, gallery owners, businesspeople, suppliers, etc. Joining local networking groups and attending artist events is a great way to expand your network.

Once you’ve got this network established, start talking to these artists and professionals about the possibility of starting a collective. Learn who is interested, what they want from the collective, and what they’d be willing to contribute.

Third, brainstorm the details of your collective.

Think about how your arts collective will operate. There are many different options, so you need to define the nature of your arts collective before you begin recruiting members.

Look to other collectives for inspiration—how are they set up? How do they obtain funding? Do they share studio space? What promotional ideas do they have? How do new members join? How do they deal with a member who is not pulling their weight?

Think about an overarching theme (or mission statement) for your collective. It might be about inspiring the local community, or about creating art that has a positive impact on the environment, or anything else!

Having a theme or mission statement will help you with recruitment—you’ll only be looking for artists whose work supports your theme.

Fourth, advertise your arts collective.

Advertise your artists collective on local art websites, at art centers, and in art publications. Remember all those contacts you were storing? Email them all and let them know about the creation of the collective.

Invite artists and other interested parties to an initial meeting to discuss ideas and the direction of the collective. Allow everyone a chance to talk and share ideas. If possible, invite along an artist from another arts collective to talk about how their collective works and the benefits of forming a collective.

At this meeting you can also decide on roles for various people and assign jobs, such as researching studio spaces or trying to obtain a materials discount.

Fifth, get to work!

Now that you’ve got a dedicated team, it’s time to begin getting some of your initiatives off the ground. Remember to delegate tasks to the members of the collective and hold regular meetings to ensure that goals are being achieved.

You may or may not continue to be the driving force behind the collective. Ideally, it will grow to have a life of its own. The important thing is that you all work together to promote and support each others work. . . do that, and you’ll all reap the benefits!

GET EMPTYEASEL IN YOUR INBOX

We’ll send you articles & tutorials right as we publish them, so you never miss a post! Unsubscribe here at any time.

NOTE: You may also be interested in EE’s step-by-step drawing guide for artists. Click below to learn more!

How to start an art collection

Consultant Sharon Reaves still tries to keep to a price point of no more than $1,000 when buying art for her collection. (Photo: Christopher Moore)

Story Highlights

  • Original art can be bought for as little as $50
  • Affordable original art is available online
  • Prints of established artists can be a good way to start

The first piece of art Sharon Reaves ever bought was by an emerging artist and cost $300, which was a lot of money for Reaves in 1999. But she had just moved from North Carolina to San Francisco and connected with the subject matter immediately.

“I saw this girl and what looked like a mountain in the background and a city in the foreground, and it was just so magical for me,” she says of the work by Jander Fonseca de Lacerda. “It was like he knew what I felt. So I think for me, part of collecting is piecing together moments and experiences that I don’t know how to express myself.”

Now a consultant and gallery owner, Reaves owns a few more works from that artist—along with about 150 others. She sticks to buying from artists on the verge with a price threshold of $1,000—”if it goes over that amount, I look at the longevity of the artist.”

Knowing which artists do have staying power can be incredibly intimidating for buyers on any level. But original art can be bought online for as little as $50—framed and ready to hang.

“Don’t devalue something just because it is priced at less than what you think ‘good’ art should be priced at,” says Ginger Porcella, founder of Big Deal Arts Advisory in New York. “I always tell people that if you really like it, buy it, whether it is $50 or $500.”

Online curators

While prints can be purchased from big chains like Urban Outfitters, Target and Walmart, as well as hundreds of other online retailers, original artwork that’s affordable is also available online.

Chrissy Crawford is the founder of ArtStar.com and its child-focused counterpart, LittleCollector.com, which partners with artists to offer a curated selection of artwork from around the world. Affordable, limited-edition, signed and numbered prints range from $50 to $750.

“I used to be a private art advisor, so I helped people with big budgets acquire pieces of art, but I found that all my friends wanted contemporary art, too,” Crawford says. “They didn’t want posters, and they didn’t want Ikea wall décor. They wanted art but they either couldn’t afford gallery work or were completely overwhelmed by the whole buying experience.”

How to start an art collection

USA TODAY Home magazine contains articles on home decor, home improvement, style and entertaining. Find it at magazine newsstands across the USA and Canada or at home.usatoday.com. (Photo: Cover photo by David Blank)

Most of Crawford’s artists have masters of fine arts degrees and are somewhat established in the art world or are thought to be the next up-and-coming stars.

The site features two-minute documentaries on all of the artists. “Collectors can really understand the work and connect with the artists and just be very educated on what they are purchasing,” Crawford says. Plus, the artwork comes ready to hang.

Start small

Concerns about what qualifies as “good” art can scare new buyers away from original works by new artists, so ordering prints of well-known, more established artists is a good way to get your feet wet.

“I really love paintings and mixed media, but for someone who is starting out, printmaking and photography is a wonderful way to have original art that a lot of the time is more affordable because it is in multiples,” Reaves says.

Crawford agrees prints are a great place to start—the lower the price at the beginning, the better. “Your taste is going to change, you are experimenting, you are learning,” she says. “Don’t spend your entire budget on one piece from the get-go.”

Of course, no matter what you buy, just be sure it is something you love. That’s something collectors and curators all agree on.

5 Sites to Try

Artstar.com

A curated selection of top artists from around the world, with affordable limited-edition photographs and works on paper chosen by a team of art experts. Art is fully authenticated and printed to museum quality standards. $50-$750.

A collection of original contemporary art for children by today’s leading artists and illustrators. $40-$375.

Operating as a type of layaway, buyers can shop the online gallery for contemporary, curated pieces, then set up an account to purchase them over time. $50/month per piece, with 100 percent applied to purchase price.

Weekly online shows offer a rotating gallery of up-and-coming artists. $500 or less.

Offers limited-edition fine-art prints from well-established artists. $75 or less to $2,000 and above.

This article is excerpted from USA TODAY Home magazine. The special publication contains articles on home decor, home improvement, style and entertaining. Find it at magazine newsstands across the USA and Canada or at home.usatoday.com.