how to curate your own art collection
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How to start an art collection on any budget

Obsessed with interiors and looking for a new hobby? Art collecting might be just the thing for you. Here’s how to get started with it as a complete beginner.

Have you ever wanted to take your passion for curating gallery walls and exploring art exhibitions to the next level? Art collecting may seem like a daunting and cloistered hobby (not to mention an expensive one), but thanks to a rise in online galleries, starting your own art collection isn’t as difficult or as much of a financial investment as many people assume.

Art collecting has evolved significantly in recent years and, like the rest of the world, it is becoming evermore digital.  This is something that Adele Smejkal noticed, having formerly worked at Sotheby’s, she went on to found an online galleries, ArtiStellar, bridging the gap between brick and mortar gallery and online art e-commerce. “I saw young people tuned into social media discovering new art and wanting a digital space to buy and collect contemporary art,” she says.

Adele from ArtiStellar
Adele is the founder of the digital art marketplace, ArtiStellar.

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A 2020 report by The Art Basel showed that millennials buy more art than any other demographic, with female buyers spending more than their male counterparts. And with more reason than ever to perfect our interiors style after spending so much time at home over the past 18 months, there has never been a better time to start your own art collection.

Collecting art simply means buying and displaying (in your home or elsewhere) original works of art. Art collecting encourages you to connect with artists, which means each purchase feels intentional and special. 

Adele founded ArtiStellar to help first-timers who are looking to make their first foray into the world of art collecting, but don’t know where to start. Here, she shares her tips on how to begin building your very own art collection.

Start small and be open

It’s absolutely fine for your art collection to start off with only one or two pieces. “Most people develop a theme for their collection over time, whether that’s collecting art by female artists or collecting a particular type of abstract art,” Adele explains.

The theme is what eventually will make your collection personal to you, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find a theme right away. “Be open and explore when you start collecting and look for recurring themes in your first few paintings,” Adele advises.

Your theme could also be based on the median you want to buy, whether that’s photography, paintings or even ceramics and sculptures.

Figure out a budget

Before you start collecting, it’s a good idea to figure out how much you can afford to spend on art. “Some pieces start at £200 and it’s fine to buy only one or two pieces a year,” Adele says. Although in films and TV you may have seen people buying art at auctions, Adele explains that it is actually far more common to buy a piece of art directly from a gallery where you can often negotiate on prices.

Explore as much art as you can before you buy

“Immerse yourself in the art world and go to see art – don’t just buy it,” Adele says. “The more you see, the more you train your eye and figure out what you like and what you don’t like.”

There’s no rush to buy your first piece of art. The more research you can do the better to make sure the art you purchase is something you really love.

When you find something you connect with, you can purchase it directly from a gallery. “Some people really want to connect with a gallery before buying whereas other people are silent buyers, which means they purchase their items without having ever communicated with the gallery,” says Adele. Either approach is fine and you can choose whichever one makes you more comfortable.

Invest in early career artists

ArtiStellar focuses on artwork from early career artists, which means there is a better chance of long term financial gain if you decide to re-sell the art in the future, which is something to keep in mind when starting your collection.

Adele also recommends going to art students’ graduate shows and visiting galleries in any new cities you visit. You can also attend art fairs like the Affordable Art Fair and the Art Car Boot Fair.

Shop online

If you don’t know where to start with finding new galleries or artists, Adele recommends using social media to discover them. “Instagram accounts like @friendoftheartist and @artmazemag are great for discovering new artists,” Adele says. “Instagram is a powerful tool because you can see the art you might want to be when it is a work in progress.”

Store your collection properly

Collecting art is not only a hobby but an amazing way to decorate your home. “You can display whatever you buy in your home and this will help give your home a distinct taste as the theme of your collection develops,” Adele says. 

If you are in a decorating rut, starting an art collection is an incredible way to find inspiration, as rather than finding prints to match your current interiors style, you can make the art you buy the centrepiece of a room. “You always have a reason for buying a piece of art,” Adele says. This means it’s not only a great conversation starter but an amazing way to bring some of your own personality into your home.

It’s important to properly frame your prints in order to maintain their quality. If you can, take them to a framers who can fit a frame to size rather than buying one online. If your art collection starts to grow, Adele advises putting some of your pieces in storage and alternating the pieces you display.

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Images: ArtiStellar, Getty