The Art Buying Process
1. A Rite of Passage
The first major milestone in most adult lives is your first real home, whether rented or owned. You will cultivate this space according to your own aesthetic. It's no coincidence that the next milestone may be your first piece of real artwork; one signed by the artist, purchased directly from the artist. This is a whole different league compared to decorating with mass-produced images from a chain store. Nothing equals the feeling of personal connection with the artwork, subject, and artist.
You've progressed from young adult, to home owner, to art collector. Enhancing your home with art is an essential part of personalizing your domestic life and expressing your individuality. Once you open the first chapter of art collecting it becomes a fulfilling lifelong passion.
2. Buy What You Love
Let your gut feeling be your guide, not what you think will go up in value. Buy art that reflects your personal style; should it blend into the background or create an unforgettable viewing experience?
Learn a little about the artist first. Why does the artist create and what is their process? Ask yourself, “how skilled is this artist and how distinctive is their style?” Do you identify with the subject matter? Read art magazines or browse online to solidify ideas of what you like. With my style in particular, collectors tell me that love at first sight can be clear. When you see the right piece the immediate answer is, "yes." Purchase art that you want to live with.
If you are waffling over a particular artwork, ask yourself how you will feel in two years if you settle for something less desirable or if you pass altogether. Trust your instincts; will you look back later and regret the missed opportunity? That said, don't settle for a forgettable image that you feel simply fills an empty space on a wall.
It is not essential to know exactly where you are going to put the art. The art will stay with you when you move and may grace the walls of many homes in the future. When you arrive home, whether weary from a laborious day or with friends and in a festive mood, you want to be greeted by distinctive artwork that sets a satisfying tone in every room.
3. How Much to Spend
When considering your budget, allow yourself leeway to accumulate additional pieces periodically. Don’t skimp on a piece you adore, but also don’t spend so much that you are discouraged from continuing your collection. Remember framing costs. Start with small pieces if you have limited means, but remember that the artwork is an asset that you will hold onto for decades. Don't buy something you don't love just because you can't afford the one you do. You will be happier by saving until you can afford a piece you really want. For many collectors, art purchases for their home are priced similarly to other long-term acquisitions such as a fine suit, dress, or at the high end, a piece of furniture.
4. About Art Photography
Photography is a wonderful way to begin a collection or add to it. Always insist on fully archival materials, both from the artists and from your framers. A certificate of authenticity is important in establishing the provenance of an artwork, and stays with it if you sell it (along with a bill of sale to the new owner.)
The advantage of buying art online is the ability to reach artists who are very far away. Photography lends itself well to online purchases due to the consistent nature of the surface and the ease with which it can be displayed on a screen.
Photography can add diversity to a collection dominated by paintings and drawings, or you can concentrate on curating chiefly photographic pieces.