Monday, February 21, 2011

How to build an art collection you can be proud of

     Art reflects style.  The kind of artwork you have on your walls is a reflection of you, your interests, your tastes, and your personal history.  Let your artwork tell your story.  More than any other element of home decor, artwork attracts the attention of visitors, and many are drawn to examine it minutely.  It is just as important to invest in good artwork as in a new couch.  Here are 15 tips for building an art collection you can be proud of:
  1. Buy originals whenever you can afford it.  Original paintings contain subtleties that no reproduction method can completely duplicate.  They are inherently more valuable, and in today's economic climate are often a bargain.  As a second choice, buy limited-edition giclee prints.  These can look excellent, and can be a good addition to your collection for places in the house where you don't need an original.
  2. Buy from accomplished artists.  Research the artist and look for a track record of accomplishments and credentials.  That way you will be able to speak confidently about the artist and know they are not just a "flash in the pan".  Do consider supporting early-career artists, though, if you feel strongly about their work. 
  3. Buy artwork you love that speaks to you strongly.  You will enjoy the painting for a long, long time if you really love it, and it will be worth every penny.  Beautiful art in your environment can be very uplifting.
  4. Have the paintings framed well.  Proper framing can really enhance an artwork, while the wrong framing can hurt it.  We call it "the framing effect".  The right proportions of mat to image, the right colors, and a frame that belongs on the painting are all elements of a classy design.
  5. Smaller works are easier to collect and to hang.  Of course you need several large paintings for prime locations, and those should be originals if at all possible.  But smaller originals can be "little gems" that can be hung almost anywhere, regardless of your decor.  The eclectic style of decorating popular today allows us to tuck a favorite artwork in any small space.   
  6.  Build your collection around something that reflects you.  What kind of things do you love?  If you love the outdoors, collect landscape.  If you love animals, collect paintings of the animals you love.  If you love flowers, collect beautiful flower paintings!
  7. Build your collection around an unusual theme.  Here are some quirky themes for an art collection:  music, bicycles, coffee cups, Adirondack chairs, food, china and crystal, sunflowers...
  8. Include figure paintings and portraits in your collection.  There is such a strong tradition of collecting these subjects, which are of inherent human interest.  People are drawn to paintings of people, and at least one classy figure painting is a wonderful addition to any art collection.  
  9. Collect works in a variety of media.  A sophisticated collector considers all art media to be worthy and broadens their collection to include original oils, watercolors, pastels, acrylic, drawing media, original prints such as etchings, and sculpture.  It takes time to build such a collection, but your heirs will appreciate eventually owning some of your valuable works of art, especially if they lived with them as children.
  10. Collect more than one artwork from certain artists.  For artists whose work you really admire it is nice to own a small sampling of their work.  Doing so will help promote their career and you will develop a relationship with the artist.  Believe me, they will appreciate this tremendously!
  11. Own several large "showcase" artworks for prominent areas of the house.  There is nothing like a spectacular large artwork to "make" a room.  Of course you want to consider this purchase very carefully, because it will be expensive and probably only fit in one spot.  We can help you with this.  Most artists will allow you to take artwork home "on approval" before you commit to purchasing.
  12. Consider commissioning an artwork.  For those special large paintings you might be able to commission a piece if you cannot find exactly what you are looking for.  Be prepared to pay a little more, though, because commissions are risky for artists (and for you!).   Some would be willing to work with you on colors for a certain situation, especially for a large abstract piece.
  13. See the artwork in person before you buy it, especially if it is large.  Some people are willing to take the risk of buying sight unseen through the Internet, but be careful.  You really need to experience the scale and impact of the piece in person.  Far better is to visit the artist in their studio or visit a gallery.  Don't worry about feeling "trapped" --artists understand that it takes time to commit to an artwork.  You may need to see it several times or take it home on approval.
  14. Get documentation about the artwork from the artist.  The artwork should come with an artist biography, title, and hopefully date of production, and perhaps a word about materials and their archival properties.  (Be wary of buying art that is not made with lasting materials--paints that are not lightfast, for example, or collage materials that are not acid-free.  You should ask the artist about this.)
  15. Take good care of the artwork you own.  Keep it on the wall so it stays away from dust and humid places.  Be sure the framing is in good repair.  If the dust cover on the back is ripped, tiny insects can get inside.  Be sure the art, if matted, has archival quality materials around it and behind it.  If you need to store it, place it in a sturdy plastic bag first, and store it upright, not sideways. 

No comments:

Post a Comment