Advice for the art collector…

Having just finished a season of open studios and other exhibitions, and getting organized for 2011 shows, I was going through some articles saved from old art magazines. One article was researched by polling art dealers, collectors and auction experts and presented a pretty thorough list of do’s and don’ts for collecting art. As the new year begins perhaps some potential art buyers out there will benefit from this list, or maybe it will encourage some of the faint-hearted browsers to take the leap and buy original art.

If you’d like to discuss one of these points in depth, or can relate one of your specific experiences, I’d love to hear from you.

• Do try to keep an open mind (there’s a lot of different kinds of contemporary art).
• Do take the time to see what’s available (there’s a lot of galleries/shows to choose from… pick favorites and go there often).
• Do take advantage of studio visits, tours, open houses, receptions, etc.
• Do get to know the artwork, intimately (as in up close and personal).
• Do be up front about your budget (find a comfortable level and talk to the artist about works that fit your budget).
• Do treat the artist with respect (and many will bend over backward to help you get what you like).
• If you make an appointment to view art with either a dealer or an artist, then show up, or you just wasted their time and they won’t be very accommodating the next time.
• Do talk to curators and other experts, and even gallery sitters, about a particular work or artist.
• Do try to get the best of an artist’s work, but at least buy something you really like since you’re going to be looking at it everyday.
• Leave telephone auction bidding to the experts. Go in person and see the real deal. Same holds for internet buying… if you can’t see it, then you don’t know what you’re getting.
• Do haggle with care. It’s doubtful a gallery will deal unless you’re a very good customer ($$$), but some artists will, especially if you’re buying more than one piece. Some prefer to barter rather than haggle, so what do you have to offer?
• Do show up and pay for the art you have committed to buying (no one likes to get stiffed).
• Do talk to others about the art you buy. You might find others who like the same artist, or they may tell you about other artists you might like to see. That’s important if you’re trying to build a collection with a certain style or theme.
• Remember that even small living spaces can hold some large works. Many collectors fill all the available space they have because they want to really live with the work.
• Do move the art around in your home. Don’t just put it on one wall and leave it there for 20 years. You’ll see new dimensions if you try looking at in new ways and places.

• Be wary of trends. Even in Art fads start and fade very quickly… buy something that you really like even if the artist is an unknown. Don’t buy from an artist just because your friends do, or because it looks good on someone else’s wall. Create your own unique art collection.
• Don’t assume you need to be rich. Even the most accomplished and well known artists have affordable works, or you might discover someone just starting a career. And not all “emerging” artists are young.
• Don’t blow all your life’s art budget on just one work of art.
• Don’t buy just because someone is famous, and don’t call art “an investment”, because not everyone will like what you like, especially 50 years from now.
• Don’t let your decorator decide for you. It’s easier to change the paint on your wall, and the decorator isn’t the one who will live with it.
• Some artists will let you take work home to live with it for a specified length of time. Don’t abuse the privilege, and don’t ask an artist to “hold” a work for you and cause the artist to lose a real sale.
• Don’t play games with the artist or a dealer. (remember haggling above?) Don’t think you can get something cheaper if you buy directly from the artist and try to avoid paying a dealer’s commission.
• Don’t let someone pressure you to buy. Stay open to possibilities but don’t buy just because someone makes you feel stupid that you are passing on a “good deal”.
• Pay the sales tax. Don’t assume that the artist will cover it for you in the price of the work unless that’s agreed on before the sale.

Once you have developed a nice little collection, and you’re ready to watch for the next big thing ask your insurance agent if you should adjust your property insurance.

Yours in ink!

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