The ultimate guide to starting an art collection

Do you have a dream of starting your own art collection? At Art Nordic, we've compiled a list of the six most important tips to get you off to the best start.

Many of ArtNordic’s guests have a dream of collecting art. But what does it mean to be an art collector? And how do you get started? If these are questions you’ve been wondering about, you can find answers in this guide.

Many people shy away from starting their own art collection – perhaps because it can seem a bit intimidating. Luckily, there are ways around that. But if you want to realize a dream of becoming an art collector, you need to take the time to immerse yourself and be guided by curiosity and an open mind.

There are tons of reasons why it’s a good idea to start your own collection. Research shows, for example, that art can actively contribute to increasing your overall wellbeing (as we’ve written about
here
) and give you an extra perspective on life. Something many of us have probably needed during the pandemic.

Whether you’re starting your collection to bring more aesthetics into your life, for investment purposes or to measure up to the great art patrons of the past, you’re entering a world of passion, unpredictability and endless stories.

Here are Art Nordic’s top six tips if you’re dreaming of starting your own collection.

 

1. Find your taste

Art activates our subjective and personal taste – there’s no way around it. Therefore, your first task as a budding art collector is to research what kind of art you like best. Whether you like the great masters or new talents, painting, sculpture, drawings, figurative, abstract, colorful or monochrome works. You need to get to know your own taste and train it best by exposing yourself to as many artistic influences as possible.

For this task, you already have the most powerful weapon at your fingertips – your smartphone. Get into the habit of taking a picture every time you come across a piece you like and sort all your images into a separate folder on your phone. As your frame of reference expands, you’ll quickly recognize trends in your personal catalog of good impressions, and you’ve found the starting point for your collection. Alternatively, you can use Pinterest and save your favorites in folders, or Instagram, where you can save images of works in a collection.

“When you experience new art, it helps train your eye to look for the elements that catch your eye.”

2. Set a budget

While collecting art used to be a hobby reserved for the few and the rich, today it’s possible to start a collection at any price point. Of course, your budget should reflect your purpose for starting a collection, and in general, it will be significantly more expensive if you choose to buy art as investment pieces than if you do it primarily to expand your horizons and bring more inspiration and aesthetics into your life.

If the purpose of starting your collection is to increase the beauty value of your home, it becomes more a matter of finding a piece that suits you than if you as an investor have to relate to what the resale market demands. If you’re buying art for investment, on the other hand, you’ll often need to focus on the work of established artists to reduce investment risk. Here, the starting price is usually at a correspondingly higher level.

For new art collectors working with lower budgets, it may be a good idea to start with photographs and lithographs, for example. As these are produced in multiple copies, the price will often be the same. You can therefore get your hands on two or more works for the same price as an original work, while keeping the perceived value intact.

Hosted by Art Nordic exhibitor Rita Howis

Inspiration: Work by Art Nordic exhibitor Rita Howis. See more of her work here

3. Do your homework

As you expand your frame of reference, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with different techniques and traditions. Read up on the artists you’ve found, follow them on their social media, make it a virtue to visit both museums and galleries on a daily basis, and take advantage of the fact that you can often speak directly with the artist at art fairs. When you experience new art, it helps train your eye to look for the elements that catch your eye.

This expanded understanding of what makes good art for you will enable you to identify how well a piece will fit in your collection. This makes it both safer and more fun to go on a treasure hunt for the right piece for your walls.

“As your collection grows, you will naturally reach a point where you no longer have space on your own walls.”

4. Fall in love

Once you’ve found the style you like, set your budget and done your homework, it’s time to go hunting. For most collectors, the first piece in the collection holds a special place, and rightly so. The first piece will often be one that is chosen from the heart and because it fits well in your home. The first piece can be the cornerstone of your collection, setting the direction for your future acquisitions.

Whether you ask an artist, a collector or a gallery owner, they will all say that the most important factor when deciding which piece to buy will always be whether you personally like it. Rather than asking yourself: “Can I use this piece?” the question should be “Can I do without this piece?” and if the answer is no, then go for it. On the other hand, if you buy art purely to make a profit, you risk being stuck with works you don’t like if the market changes. It’s a tough and expensive way to build a collection, and if you deliberately only buy art you like, you’re in over your head.

Work by Art Nordic exhibitor Cecilie Lund-Rasmussen

Inspiration: Work by Art Nordic exhibitor Cecilie Lund-Rasmussen. See more of her work here

5. Take care of your art

You’ve bought your first piece and are ready to inaugurate your new collection. To get the most out of it, it’s important that you take proper care of your work. As a starting point, good art will often increase in value, but as with most things, it’s more complex than that. When determining the value of a piece, it is based on a number of parameters, such as who the artist is, when it was made and of course, the condition it is in.

While the first two categories are mostly out of your control, as an art collector you have a direct influence on the condition of your work. And it’s in your interest to keep the work in as good a condition as possible. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep your artwork out of direct sunlight, and you should also make sure your glass frames are made with museum glass with UV protection. It’s also always a good idea to ask the person who sold you your work how to best take care of it.

As your collection grows, you will naturally reach a point where you no longer have space on your own walls. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to find out where you can rent a warehouse. Here, it’s crucial that the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much and the humidity is at a constant level.

Last but not least, it’s imperative that you make sure you get a certificate of authenticity when buying original artwork and store it in a safe place. If your collection eventually grows so large that you decide to donate or sell off your works, the Certificate of Authenticity will ease the process.

“Art activates our subjective and personal taste – there’s no way around that. Therefore, your first task as an aspiring art collector is to find out what kind of art you like best.”

6. Talk to others

There’s no shortcut to becoming an art expert or connoisseur. It will always require time, energy and money. However, if you make an effort to visit art fairs and galleries and interact with artists, collectors and other industry professionals, you’ll get there faster.

Your personal art collection isn’t just a source of daily inspiration and wonder. Your art collection can be a window into who you are. Your collection can be a tool for both exploration and better self-understanding. Building an art collection is a long-term effort, but also a hugely rewarding activity. Whether you’re starting with a masterpiece or a special print of a lithograph, it’s easy to get started.

Work by Art Nordic exhibitor Klaus Lund Ujvari

Inspiration: Work by Art Nordic exhibitor Klaus Lund Ujvari. See more of his work here

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