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How to Start a Contemporary Art Collection (The 8 Tips for every would-be Art Collector)

Are you contemplating starting a contemporary art collection but scared of the high price tags normally associated with art?

Or are you planning to redecorate your home but don’t know where to start or how to choose the right art pieces to match your furniture and your budget?

Whatever your motive for buying art, if what you’re really worried about is cost, then this article will help you stick to your budget, learn where to buy and how to choose the right pieces.

What Art Collection is not

Before we go any further, let’s first take a look at what an art collection is not.

Contrary to what most people believe, art does not simply belong in a museum or the homes of business magnates and eccentric billionaires. Additionally, auction house reports of contemporary art prices do not reflect the average price of all art pieces.

Art can be appreciated and collected by anyone, whether you know about brushstrokes, paint layers, kitsch or not. And you certainly don’t need to have deep pockets to start collecting contemporary art.

Remember that contemporary art can be collected and cherished by anyone who has a strong desire to start having one.

Contemporary art can be collected & cherished by anyone who has a strong desire to start having… Click To Tweet

Collecting Contemporary Art on a Budget

You don’t have to be a celebrity or wealthy individual to acquire tasteful artworks.

Contemporary art is not out of range for the average person and, with $1000 or less, you can start a collection with one or two pieces which suit both your taste and environment.

After taking the initial step, you can slowly build your collection.

buy art online

Collecting art is like an evolution – it’s a process that takes time. There are lots of great collections across the globe containing pieces which start from a few hundred or thousand dollars and, if you choose, you can always contact reputable art dealers who will advise and work with you in building your art collection.

Collecting art is like an evolution – it’s a process that takes time Click To Tweet

Sharon Reaves, now the owner of Reaves Gallery in New York City, is an excellent example of how things can progress. Her first purchase was a $300 painting by an emerging artist 17 years ago. Over time, she has accumulated more than 150 individual pieces of art despite her maximum $1,000 budget.

Another art enthusiast and curator who prefers to buy from emerging artists, is Sydney designer, Liane Rossler. Rossler constantly looks for “rawness and freshness,” and thus likes to attend very young galleries. Her passion and keen eye have gained her the flair and reputation for discovering hot, new talent.

Rossler’s contemporary art collection started with small pieces because she believes that is, “how you get the essence of the artist – and it’s more affordable.”

Believe it or not, though, there aren’t many obvious steals in the contemporary art world. Most collectors only realise that their purchase has turned out to be an investment after some time.

Collecting art is like an evolution – it’s a process that takes time. So start small Click To Tweet

It cannot be denied that every purchase you make involves a risk. That is why the best way to start collecting contemporary art is to invest in more affordable pieces in a similar way to Rossler and Reaves.

Of course, there are also affordable pieces available from established artists even if they might not always typically reflect their mainstream work.

Where to Find Affordable Contemporary Art Pieces

There are several places where you can look for affordable contemporary art collectables. Like Rossler, you can scout young art galleries or ones which showcase art from emerging artists.

Another great and convenient place to look is on the Internet. There are several art websites in existence which host thousands of quality art pieces from unknown artists around the world. Additionally, you might also find a variety of prints available from reputable established artists.

In fact, the online art gallery like Artailer is a common route taken by those who are starting out as art collectors and often they find pieces that start from as low as $50. Another benefit of buying art this way is that there are thousands of pieces to choose from making it easier to select the type of art you prefer without even leaving the couch.



If you opt to use the expertise of an art dealer to help you in your quest, then be sure to select one who has a good reputation in the industry.

If though, you prefer a more personal transaction such as going to an art gallery, take time out to speak to staff or the gallery owner to ensure they are aware of your preferences.

Maybe you prefer buying from an online art shop, make sure it has a good reputation and also great after sales support to its customers.

Remember that often those who deal in artwork, are driven by passions similar to your own and they are only too pleased to assist and advise you in your choices.

How to Choose the Right Piece of Contemporary Art

Finally, we have come to the last, and often the most difficult aspect, in starting a contemporary art collection – how to choose the right art piece or pieces.

Unfortunately, choosing art causes people to either over-analyse a potential purchase, or even cause them to be afraid of making a decision as to which artist’s work will be enduring. But take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Even seasoned and experienced art collectors are sometimes intimidated into making a decision. Couple this with the many available art mediums to choose from, thousands of great artists, and the sheer number of galleries online and offline, and you can suddenly feel like you’re stuck in a maze!

 The 8 Tips for every would-be Art Collector

8 tips for every-would be art collector


1. What type of art appeals to you? Establish the style that pleases you most, but remembers you have the option to be flexible! Visit galleries and exhibitions. Browse the Internet. Join the mailing lists of museums, auctioneers and galleries. By reviewing a diverse range of art you will find your own preferences start to surface.

2. Learn about different artists, especially famous ones, and discover how they progressed. Equipping yourself with not only historical art knowledge but also the markets and the contemporary art scene can assist greatly in helping you make an informed decision when it comes to your own purchases.

Develop your passion for art by honing your knowledge for art. Click To Tweet

3. It is essential to train and sharpen your eyes to catch the next big wave. Doing so will help you get in early and purchase the work of emerging artists before prices escalate. Again, you need to hone your knowledge and learn the landscape of the art world in order to ride the wave.

4. Choose art that you like!

David Geffen, the wealthy record label executive and a world-renowned art collector, reaches for his pocket when an artistic creation makes him go, “Wow!”

The founder of Big Deal Arts Advisory puts it another way. “I always tell people that if you really like it, buy it, whether it is $50 or $500.” She further advises that the dollar value of a piece doesn’t always equate to good or bad art.

Reaves, on the other hand, chooses art that pieces together the experiences and moments she wouldn’t know how to express otherwise.

But the message is clear. You never lose if you buy a piece you love!

5. Don’t look at art as a commodity or you might end up with things that you don’t want to live with. Buy something you like, something that you would like to keep; not something you can flip. Flipping the work of emerging artists is nearly always impossible anyway.

6. Buying at as investment would require you to take your sweet time in choosing a contemporary piece for your collection. Don’t be rushed into thinking that someone else will buy it later if you don’t grab it now. Do your homework first and see how much other similar works are being sold for. The art price database just might help you decide if a particular piece is worth the asking price.

7. When buying contemporary art, you need to consider the hidden costs such as framing and restoration, which can be expensive. Likewise, if you’re buying an expensive piece, then insurance is essential.

8. There are many factors which affect contemporary art prices. For example, one-off original maybe more expensive than printed editions of the same art piece. Also, the one-off original is more valuable than the printed editions pieces.

Note that the price history of a piece is not a guarantee of anything. It is merely a reflection of another person’s judgment and prediction which can be inaccurate. Moreover, dealers who trust their judgment won’t usually refer to the historical value of a piece.

Starting a contemporary art collection can be intimidating, but at the same time exciting and rewarding. And, as your love for collecting grows, you will develop keener eyes and a taste for art that will increase in value. More importantly, you’ll be surrounded by a beautiful and inspiring art collection which you can potentially enjoy for the rest of your life.

Do you know of some other easy ways to start a contemporary art collection?

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