Buying Fine Art: How to Build a Collection

Buying art can be rewarding in more ways than one, but many people are unsure of where to start. For entry-level collectors, it’s a competitive landscape that can seem difficult to navigate, especially if you consider the financial side of things. On top of that, there are so many schools and movements of art. There is physical art and digital art. In other words, there is a lot to learn.

how to buy art

If your goal is to buy art as an investment, then this guide will point you in the right direction. Also, if you start learning now, you will be in a better position to raise the asking price for your works when it’s time to sell your art collection. On the other hand, if you’re trying to collect a wide variety of styles to fill your home while staying within a budget, what you need is affordable art 101, and these tips will make sure you get just that.

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How Do I Get Started as an Art Collector?

Beginnings are hard if you’re new to the game. So how to start buying art? 

  • Do you buy art from an artist or a gallery? 
  • Are online platforms safe and worth exploring?
  • Should you avoid live auctions?

If you’ve never bought art before and you’re just getting started, the good news is that it is never too late to start. Yes, it can be overwhelming and frustrating, but if anything, owing to technology, you have more options than ever before. There are plenty of resources that can help you create a clever strategy and build a truly great collection that is relatively inexpensive.

Consider the following: 

The Value vs the Cost of Art

The value of art is often subjective, and figuring out whether or not something is a good investment can be a challenge. It’s only natural that you may have your doubts about buying art with a heftier pricetag, even if you can afford it. To avoid spending too much, steer clear from live auctions.

Buying fine art can help diversify your investment portfolio. You may want to build a collection that you’ll sell later for profit, but be aware that paintings may also lose their value over time, as there are many factors to take into account. A painting can be passed off as an heirloom for your children or grandchildren and they may stand to make a fortune decades from now if they decided to sell it. 

Turn to Museums to Overcome the Learning Curve

How you personally feel about a work of art is one thing, but sometimes you just can’t trust your judgement, especially if you lack the knowledge and the confidence it brings. But the good thing is that you can do your research on how works of art are valued and priced to get an idea of what other people consider valuable and investment-worthy. 

Check out how past auctions at major museums turned out. If you find that a lot of expensive art goes for less than expected, then that particular artist may not be a good choice of investment for you. This is just one way to add some legitimacy to your own opinions about what’s valuable and worth your time, effort and money.

High Expectations with Some Reservations

Buying and selling art can turn into a lifelong commitment, but don’t quit your day job just yet. If you’re interested in buying art as an investment, look for crowd-pleasers. Not every piece of art has to be something you enjoy, but if a lot of people show interest in an artwork, there’s a good chance that getting your hands on it will be a smart decision.

Even if you do not intend to take up art dealership professionally, brace yourself for a little trial-and-error. You may not be able to resell a work of art at your asking price, and there is never a guarantee when (and if) it will skyrocket in value.

What About the Contemporaries and Current Trends?

How to buy original art if you’re new to the game? Make sure to do your research and not fall for fads. You can’t have it all, but what you can do is deliberate carefully to make financially savvy decisions. 

You may not be able to buy works by one of the old masters, but there are proven contemporary artists who have stayed at the top of their game and in high demand for decades. However, you may want to look for their later works which are often more affordable. 

On the other hand, there are also up-and-coming artists with an important message to say right here and right now and who may have a bright future ahead of them.

Discussing current art world trends inevitably brings us to the topic of NFTs. It’s a volatile scene and many people are skeptical about getting involved in it. But in spite of the art community’s initial doubts, NFTs are still here, and the sector is evolving. An increasingly popular category in this fast-growing sector is NFT fractionalization, which enables several people to own fractions of a single NFT.

Find and See the Potential in the Female Artists

There’s no doubt that art collecting is, traditionally, a male-dominated hobby. No matter how many times you hear that women are a force to be reckoned with in the art world, there’s a reason why you rarely see female artists at the top of auction results. It’s important to look beyond talent and style when you’re looking for up-and-coming artists. 

It’s also extremely important to give women from all over the world their due in that same category. We need more gender equality in the art world and making a conscious decision to contribute to the change may pay off down the line.

Keep an Eye Out for the Lesser Known Works by a Known Artist

It’s important for you to find good artists who aren’t necessarily well-known at the moment, but you never know if and when the demand for one of their works may grow in the future.  On top of that, there are lesser-known works by already famous artists that you may be able to afford and make your investment worth your while. Historically, lesser-known works have been known to eventually rise in value.

How to Buy Fine Art if It’s Out of Your Price Range?

Buying art isn’t a zero-sum game. Some artwork will forever remain off-limits to the vast majority of us and that’s a fact. But you can always find alternatives and go for the lower-priced pieces such as prints. 

You can never go wrong if you buy art that you love, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Even if it doesn’t go up in value, at least not any time soon, you’ll still have something in your home that is authentic.

Sometimes, it’s better to buy three affordable pieces from the same artist than one expensive piece. Even a small collection by the same artist can go up in value. 

It’s just not practical to go after every piece of art that catches your eye or focus obsessively on just one artist. It’s better for you to find a few artists whose work speaks to you, and then buy several pieces from one or two of them. The more you diversify, the higher the diversity of your options, whether you want to display them in your home or resell them at some point in the future.

Do Your Research if You Want to Find Deals

There are a lot of online art magazines that list pieces from various galleries from all over the world, including some artists whose pieces you won’t see in any other publication. You can browse through these sites to find the latest deals and hidden gems that might not be listed elsewhere. 

If you’re not looking for art to buy as an investment, then you don’t have to look far. You can simply check out your local galleries and thrift stores. You may stumble upon rare and powerful works by artists whose pieces never hit the auction block or get shown at famous galleries and museums, but may still be worth including in your collection.