I’ve written a few times about the fact that art is subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whatnot, but that’s the last thing you want to hear if you are about to purchase art. If you are interested in buying or collecting art, you don’t need an education in art history or the arts in general to take those first steps. Most people think of art buyers as part of some elitist group, those who are versed in ‘art speak’ and spend millions of dollars on bizarre unrecognizable sculptures or paintings. People, who invest in art then sell it for millions more, do so because it is fashionable. But the simple fact is most people begin collecting art because they love it.
Learning about Art
Now, before you go spending all your hard earned cash on art as an investment, you should at least understand the fundamentals. There’s no need to spend years in art school for this – you can learn by visiting local museums and galleries to familiarize yourself. This will also help you discover what styles and manner of art you actually like. These are great places to ask questions and find out more about the art world and that ‘art speak’ I spoke of before. Don’t be intimidated when walking into a gallery for the first time – they are in the business because they are passionate about art and are typically staffed with knowledgeable and helpful people. But trust your instincts, because there’s no reason to talk with someone you feel is stuffy or demeaning to you.
Now that I’ve got you walking around galleries and museums finding out about style and color, how do you go about choosing art? The first rule of thumb is that you should always start with art you actually appreciate. This brings me back to subjective art and where true beauty lies. Always choose art that you admire or feel a connection with. Trust your instincts and your eye. Buying art is for you and no one knows what you like better than you. It could be the design, the color, or even the subject that speaks to you and says, “take me home.”
If you are buying art as a financial investment however, remember that art takes time to mature. Don’t go out looking for a Vincent van Gogh or Jackson Pollock piece that you can try to get a return on. These artists have pieces sold and resold so often, it will be a nightmare finding an investor to spend more on a resell. Instead, look for an emerging artist that you think will be the next Klimt, Picasso or Warhol. This approach takes quite a bit of research and time. Look through art magazines and hit up those galleries and upcoming shows – listen to buzz and see who’s talking about whom. Buying art that is reasonably priced and will be highly sought after is your objective in this case. However, keep in mind that the art market fluctuates and so does the worth of art. You may also want to remember that many an artist’s work becomes more valuable after they’re gone… hence the “starving artist” rarely gets to enjoy the riches of their own work.
Leaving Fear Behind
Perhaps you have friends that are true art lovers or artists themselves in art clubs and frequenting the art scene. Don’t let this stop you from buying or collecting art…take them along, listen to them, but in the end remember whose walls that art will ultimately adorn. How many times have you heard about the interior decorator who has redone someone’s home and made it fit for Traditional Home or Modern Home, etc., but has taken out the comfort and personal style of its owner? Keep that in mind as you are the one, and your family, who will live with the art you select on a daily basis. So start collecting, but love what you buy.
Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.
About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.