Beginning your journey in fine art collecting can seem daunting, but don’t be intimidated. Everyone can enjoy buying and owning art at an affordable price point, even in your 20's. It can be a great time to start investing and to begin shaping your art-collecting identity.
Is investing in art a good idea? In this article, we will explore five easy ways to start building your collection to be affordable, unique and timeless.
Want a full, comprehensive art investment guide for free? See our industry guide called The Expert’s Guide to Art Investment in 2024.
1. Invest in Art you Love
Buy because you love it. Art can transform a space and create beautiful interiors, whether it’s a painting, photographic print, digital or another form of art, the key is to find something you love and to buy it with confidence. If you are looking for something in a particular art style, a good investment can often be buying from an exciting emerging artist, rather than saving to buy a second-rate art piece from a better-known artist. Need some inspiration? Look at our artists here.
‘Is it a risk to invest in art?’
For those that are risk-averse, art collecting is considerably risk-free as the art market doesn’t rise or fall with the stock market. Artwork is known to retain its value over time and increase in value, becoming rarer and sought after when chosen wisely. However, it is critical for new buyers to understand that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing in art.
'Don't follow trends'
Before you start any collection, get to know what you like and what you don’t. Visit exhibitions, art fairs and auctions. Follow artists, critics, and curators on social media. Don't follow trends; think about what artwork brings you joy and that you will still love in years to come. Want to see some unusual artwork styles? Check out some examples here.
2. Research and Define your Goals
What are your intentions with this art collection? Whether your goal is to acquire art as an investment, for decorative purposes, to collect a piece of history, or out of love and support for the arts, your decision will have a huge impact on the essence of the collection you end up building.
'Expensive isn't always the answer'
Creating a budget is important but doesn’t mean settling for something you don’t love. It is better to invest in something that will inspire you every day, rather than because another artist’s work is better known. An expensive art piece doesn’t necessarily make the work better, therefore don’t devalue an artwork because it is priced below your perceived value of ‘good art’. Collecting is a way of learning about art, and making mistakes is part of it and therefore investing on a modest financial scale is the best place to start.
Start small. Starting your art collecting journey in your 20's can be a profitable venture, alongside exposing yourself to an array of art, which will train your mind and eye to identify the types of art you love and enjoy. Ultimately, this will give you a better understanding of what art you envision in your collection. A strong art collection will require time and knowledge. If you’re lucky it could turn into a great investment.
You may find yourself gravitating towards a certain type of art - prints, abstract paintings, or photography for example. First time buyers tend to overlook sculptures and design objects, favouring framed canvases, however, these three-dimensional pieces are usually well-priced and make great additions to a collection; adding an eclectic feel.
3. Discover Emerging Artists
How to find a new artist with potential? We recommend following art galleries, collectors, and artists. Observe reactions to the artists artwork from their followers and the attention given from museums, academia and the general public, as this can have a big impact on whether the artwork is worth investing in. Make sure to look for any solo shows, appearances in group exhibitions, press coverage or if an artist is active in interesting and thriving communities.
Buying early can be a savvy investment move as these artists pieces in the future may skyrocket in value and is a great way to support the next generation of artists. Visiting graduate shows from major art schools like Goldsmiths, the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins and Loughborough University can be a great way to find the latest talent. Build a rapport and relationship with artists could potentially lead to becoming a personal client and becoming the first to hear about their latest works.
An affordable option in art collecting is buying original prints, as artists will often produce printed editions in small, affordable batches. A little-known fact is that you can buy original, limited prints, from non-profit museums and print workshops by leading artists. Keep an eye out for collaborations and other limited-edition print projects as this is a great introduction to collecting art. We recommend buying from non-profit organisations like Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Modern, ICA London and Royal Academy of Art.
'Don't buy art just for investment'
However, keep in mind that as much as investing in a young, emerging artist can result in a good profit when reselling later down the line, it is important to weigh up the risks, and strongly recommend that art should not be purchased for pure investment, especially without previous art collecting experience. You need to like the artwork, consider the placement of the piece, and believe in the artist’s career. It is often better to buy and collect something slightly more conservative, before diving into new, and potentially more profitable pieces, which bare a higher risk.
'Start small, and be realistic'
If you are keen on a certain artist, purchasing from them might not be within your budget. Instead, we recommend looking for artists who are inspired by their work, especially those who are lesser-known, and appeal to the desired style of artwork. If you are set on buying an artwork by a famous artist, consider purchasing prints from a larger run which means they are more affordable due to a relatively high number of copies being made.
'Go for smaller pieces'
It is worth noting that investing in smaller pieces can be the best way to get the essence of a mid-career artist but at a less intimidating price. You can still add stunning original paintings to your art collection if you are willing to explore emerging and slightly less-known artists. There are added benefits like unique artwork, instead of replicated prints on your walls, and the ability to boast about your knowledge of an emerging artist and to support them.
4. Invest in Quality
A good and well-known rule is quality over quantity, as your budget is not a static indicator, as this will change in the future and a carefully curated collection may take years to formulate. It is important to note that trends often mean temporary price inflations and won’t necessarily equate to a good investment, unless it is something you truly love.
'Start with prints'
A general guide when buying a print is to either purchase – a high edition print, which will have a lower price point by very well-known artists, or a low edition print, that is cheaper by emerging artist. Another potentially affordable way to start your art collection is in the digital art space, like with NFTs. You can find out more about what NFTs are and why they might be worth investing in here.
5. Take Care of Your Art
'Keep up to date with documentation'
If you are a first-time art buyer, there are several important things you should consider before making a decisive purchase. When purchasing a work of art, the Certification of Authenticity is crucial to prove that the work is indeed authentic. We recommend keeping all relevant documentation in case you decide to sell or donate one day, both to verify authenticity of the piece and to protect yourself, should anything happen to it. For an added layer of protection, ask your insurance provider about fine art insurance.
'Protect your artwork'
It is always best to buy a work that is in good condition, rather than having to restore artwork in poor condition, as this can significantly increase the cost. It is worth noting that your purchase does not end with the sale of the art itself. To best protect your investment, two-dimensional artworks should be framed professionally and avoid or limit direct exposure to sunlight or sources of moisture. If you are using Artelier to curate your art collection, we can advice further on this.
Ensure you are buying a piece of art because you love it, and research the artist to increase the quality of your investment. Don't place judgement on art based on whether the artist is well-known and the price point - good art doesn't always relate to expensive art.
Need help investing in art?
As leading art consultants, we find a variety of artworks based on your requirements and budget to help you make an informed choice when creating your collection and hope this comprehensive guide has given you the tips and key information you need to consider before starting your art collection.
There is no shortcut to connoisseurship, but talking to our expert curators with a plethora of knowledge will the make the process easier and increase your understanding for art collecting.