I wanted to write a little bit about collecting art, since we have a limited offering of some very well known and talented printmakers in our current show, Bewick’s Legacy. These are personal thoughts from a gallery director to be taken as such, I do not profess to be an investment specialist or predictor of future trends in the art market!
Starting an art collection is a beneficial experience for so many reasons–it is a wonderful way to support the fine arts, many people collect as part of their investment strategy, and of course, you increase the aesthetics of your home or office! Also, starting an art collection can be done by anyone on any budget and at any age! Prints, of course, are a great way to start an art collection because you can buy beautiful, original artwork for much less than many similarly sized paintings or sculpture.
When starting an art collection, the number one most important thing to do is buy art you like! DON’T buy work because it is by a big-shot artist, DON’T buy work to impress other people, and DON’T buy work because you think you’ll be able to sell it in a year or two for more. You want to buy pieces that you can live with and enjoy. If visitors to your home or office compliment the work or the work happens to appreciate in value, then that should just be an added bonus.
That being said, there are some things to look for when you are starting or adding to your collection. The work should be of high technical quality (unless of course shotty construction is part of the concept of the piece, but that’s a whole different conversation!) Make sure that canvasses have squared corners and don’t raise unevenly off the wall. Works on paper should be clean of finger prints, errant ink blots, etc. If you are buying framed pieces, the frame corners should be square and the mats clean, as well.
Also, see if the artist and artwork matches your collection ideology. If you are collecting artwork simply because it is pretty, then go right ahead and buy it, no extra thought needed! However, if you are trying to create a more specific collection (say, contemporary female artists, regional printmakers, or artworks with roots in Cubism), then you need to do a little more research. This can be as easy as asking the gallery assistant or looking on the artist’s website for an artist statement and resume. When you do buy a work, ask for the CV (resume) 0f that artist and keep it in a file with your receipt, so you have documentation to back up your art collection.
In closing, I invite you to take a moment and think about what kind of art YOU like, what kind of space you have on your walls, and what you might want to do with that upcoming tax refund check. Who knows, in 10 years you could become the premier private collector of artist depictions of Florence (a beautiful subject artists of many media seem to be drawn to), or maybe the National Gallery of Art will want your collection of contemporary botanical prints. The opportunities only multiply with your first purchase of artwork!