7 Tips for Curating an Art Collection
By: Hannah Corman | March, 02, 2016
1. You're building a collection! Collections take time and they are rarely "finished." Don't feel like you've got to buy 10 pieces today, fill up your walls, and brush off your hands never to redecorate ever again! Unless your home is being photographed for ELLE Decor, your unique collection of art will probably takes years to take shape. So don't stress ~ this should be fun!
2. It's okay to evolve. You bought a photograph at an art fair in college, and now you hate it. It's okay! You're allowed to let things go. Your personal style will of course change over time, and the same goes for your home furnishings and art. Maybe something doesn't fit with your new color scheme, seems childish now or just doesn't speak to you in the same way it once did. I suggest putting it away ("taking out of rotation") and think about if you may want it in the future ~ for a nursery perhaps? If you don't think you ever want to see it again, donate it to a not-for-profit, give it to a friend who's always admired it (ask them if they want it first, don't just assume they do), or sell it.
2a. As a side note to #2, CHANGE THINGS UP once in a while! There's no law that says once you throw a nail in the wall that it must stay there! At least once a year, reevaluate your space. You probably don't even notice some of the decor you have anymore. Try rotating your wall art around to new places, rearrange your tchotchkes, reframe your family photos (or move them to an album and put out new ones). You'll be surprised at how much you really look at and enjoy your pieces again.
3. Buy something you love. Art really isn't an "investment." Unless you've stumbled across the next Monet (which you likely have not), don't assume that the art you buy is going to appreciate in value over time. So don't buy something because you think it will be worth more later. Buy something because you like looking at it NOW.
3a. As a side note to #3 (you're getting extra tips, lucky you!) as much as possible, try to sleep on an art purchasing decision. It's not like a shirt that you buy and if you never wear it, oh well; you're likely going to be looking at this thing for some time to come. If you think you want a piece, sleep on it one night, and if you find you still want it in the morning, go get it! If you don't have the luxury of time (say you're at a one-day exhibit), trust your gut one way or the other. Only you know you.
4. Buy art on vacation. Art is the perfect souvenir to remember the fun times of a fantastic trip. Forget the Eiffel Tower key chain already! A few dos and don'ts of vacation art buying: DO figure out if a local culture is known for a particular style of art or craft; DO seek out local artists producing unique work; DO meet the artist whenever possible (same goes for purchasing jewelry on vacation which is really wearable art, right?); DON'T buy that picture or sculpture that looks exactly the same as every other picture or sculpture on the table/in the market unless you really love it and just want a little reminder of the vacation. Ya know what? If it was handmade, go ahead and buy that look-alike piece. If YOU love it, who cares?
5. Find an artist that speaks to you. When you read a great book, you probably look to read another by that same author right? And what a disappointment if the next book stinks! Same goes for artists: buy art from an artist whose general body of work you like. I tend to shy away from buying a piece if it's the only one in an artist's collection that I like. To build a somewhat cohesive collection, it's great to purchase more than one piece from any given artist. You don't have to buy them all at once, but it's nice to have those artists that you can rely on to produce work that you will want year in and year out. These are your "go-to" artists, and their work will become the backbone of your collection. And hey, if they make it big, even better for you!
6. Get to know your artists. Whenever possible, MEET the artist whose work you are buying (yes, even and especially on vacation). Artists are like anyone else in that they typically like developing relationships with people who like their work! For me, this often means seeking out local artists. Not only can I meet them at their studios or gallery openings, but I'm also supporting the local economy. If you can't meet someone in person, email them and let them know how much you like their work, tell them about yourself, and send them a photo of their work in your home or office. We LOVE that!
7. Set a budget. Art, like everything else, is subject to a budget. You may know that you are only able to buy pieces under $100, or maybe you're willing to spend thousands for a particular artist's work. Think about what price range you are comfortable within generally and look for artists whose work consistently falls within your budget. Or find an artist who creates work in various price ranges. Or save up for one large statement piece that will become the centerpiece of your living room or bedroom.
But the Number 1 Rule to art collecting is to HAVE FUN! Buy what you LOVE, what makes your heart flutter, what makes you smile or cry or feel nostalgic or remember a place, person or time.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with specific or general questions about art collecting!