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Collecting Original Art


It's human nature to collect things. A lot of people find joy in certain objects. My husband collects sports jerseys and sports memorabilia. These objects remind him of special places and experiences with people he cares about. Collecting art can do the same thing. A painting of a favorite place or a piece of pottery glazed in a special color can bring repeated pleasure every time we look at it. However, building an art collection is often seen as something only the uber-rich can afford. When most people think about collecting art, they imagine Sotheby's and million dollar paintings. The truth of the matter is that art is all around us. It's in local galleries, at street fairs and farmer's markets. You can find original art online at very affordable prices. Here are some ideas about how to get started collecting art.

One of the first photos of my art in a collector's home.

Start Small, Start Local

Purchasing a large piece of art can be daunting. It's going to take up a lot of visual space in your home or office. You can dip your toe in the pool of collecting by starting with small pieces. Such paintings can be as small as 3"x5". I once saw the most beautiful oil paintings hanging in a café. They were miniature landscapes, no larger than 5"x7". The artist was selling them for about $225.00 each. That might seem like a lot to pay for a tiny painted canvas, but keep in mind that it is an original that will never be created again. Small art pieces look great grouped together, especially if they have a common theme. The artist put years of training into knowing how to paint a small, beautiful scene. You can easily find such art in local shops and galleries. Search for artists in your area who are just starting to show and sell their work. This is a great way to find meaningful pieces of art at an affordable rate.


Buy a Print

Many artists create prints of their original pieces of art. If you really love a piece of art that's out of your price range check with the artist about the availability of prints. Sometimes artists will sell prints through art fairs or through their website. Other artists do not create prints unless they are asked to. Look for prints from contemporary artists, those who are still alive and currently making art. Keep in mind that a print will need to be framed. These reproductions are typically lightfast and printed on archival paper. To display them you will need to buy a frame of visit a framer. Framing will add to the cost of the artwork, but it will preserve it nicely. Having a print of art that you love can start you on a journey toward collecting original art.


Get to Know Your Tastes

If you walk into a gallery without knowing what you love, it can be an overwhelming experience. Spending time in museums and looking at art online is a good way to narrow down what type of art appeals to you the most. Notice which subjects seem to draw your attention. Are there certain colors that you are attracted to in paintings and sculptures? Once you have a general idea about these things you can search for them online, on social platforms or in real life galleries. Try to attend openings of local galleries. These openings welcome the public and might introduce you to new forms of art. It's also a good idea to know your budget. Art collecting is different than art investing. Collectors buy things they love while investors buy art they can resell for a profit. Know which of these profiles fit you.


Get to Know the Artist

Artists are often shrouded in mystique. The artwork might be sitting right in front of you, but what do you know about the artist? Almost every piece of current, original art can be linked to an artist with a website and a social media account. Just search for them online. Artists really do want you to connect with them. Creating is often a lonely process. It's wonderful to speak with people who collect art, to hear what they like and why they are interested. Ask artists about their process, their inspiration and their background. You might find out information that helps you decide if their work is right for your collection. If you're not sure how to buy a piece of art from an artist, understand that it's not any different than buying anything else from an individual. If you see a table someone is selling on Facebook or Instagram, it's pretty easy to call the seller and say you're interested. Art purchasing works the same way.


Collecting original art is a wonderful way to surround yourself with things that you love. Most people who buy art are not trying to invest, but are instead obtaining something that they will keep for a lifetime. You don't have to be an art expert to buy art. You only need to know what you type of art appeals to you. If you'd like some suggestions of wonderful contemporary artists, check out the accounts I follow on Instagram. I'm at jen.gillen.art and I'm following lots of outstanding local and international artists.

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