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You don’t have to be an art collector to buy art, but what if you became one?

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

When we stumble upon the term “art collector”, we usually think of an extremely wealthy person of particular social status. Does this stereotype actually reflect reality?

The truth is that the question can take more than one answers, because there are so many different types of art collectors. It is not mandatory for an art collection to start as such, when a buyer seeks to make their first acquisition, but it is very likely for that person to be “infected” with a new obsession.

The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Painting Gallery in Brussels
"The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Painting Gallery in Brussels" by David Teniers the Younger, 1651

There are the devoted art collectors, who are interested in specific artists and movements and are willing to pay a lot to possess their object of desire. Then there are those who are not interested in creating some grand art collection, but by seeking to fulfill a personal need or by tastefully decorating their personal space, avoiding replicas and mass production artworks, end up by owning a small, yet valuable collection of works.

To begin with, every art collector creates their collection depending on their interests, taste and financial capacity. There are many art collectors who are only interested in the market value of their collection. This way of thinking can hide many dangers for a beginner. An art collection is a good way to invest money, yet only if the collector meets certain conditions.

At this point we have to think about what is considered to be expensive, since we are used to spend heavy amounts of money in objects such as electronic devices, whose economic value eventually drops, but when we are about to spend the same or even less on a unique work of art, we overthink it and usually never buy.

The artist KAWS in his studio in Brooklyn surrounded by riches from his collection

photo via

First of all, an art collector should be well-informed. There are many collections of doubtful authenticity, because their owners don’t invest enough personal interest and time. Visiting museums and art galleries, as well as reading about art, is the basis of connoisseurship. This can help develop a good eye, when starting a collection.

What is also very important (and probably taken for granted) is personal taste. It is crucial to buy works of art that one actually likes and doesn’t treat them as mere financial investments. However, never buy a work of art to match the cushions of your sofa! Do pay attention, however, to how it is being presented. It is easier when it comes to sculpture, but with paintings and prints, appropriate framing should be used.

The right frame, a consideration of the right and wrong methods of framing pictures
"The right frame", a book by Henry Heydenryk, 1966

Always keep in mind that, when buying a work of art, you make a life investment. This is the reason why the work should first take your heart and then your mind. It is actually why looking at art can have many benefits for your mental health, among others. There is no need for a work of art to be ridiculously expensive, but it is very important for you to be attracted to it.

Lastly, investing in new artists is also a good opportunity to create a truly remarkable art collection without having to spend tons of money. We have often been advised to “buy art from living artists, since the dead ones don’t need the money”. There is actually a point to it!

by Venia Pastaka

editing by Konstantinos Emmanouil

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