The beginner’s Ultimate Guide to collecting art for value

If you’ve ever felt like the art world is too big, too confusing or just downright overwhelming to tackle collecting art for value on your own, then this blog post is for you.

I know that the first hurdle is thinking one doesn’t have enough money to be an art collector and that you need to be a super famous or mega-rich like Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats to start collecting art. Or you might think you need at least 100 artworks in your collection to consider yourself an art collector, but that is far from true!

You are an art collector from the very first piece of art that you buy.

What is key is just to start being exposed to art, maybe any art at first. But it pays in the long run, in terms of discovery and investing, to be exposed to the whole spectrum: from emerging artists who might not have gallery backing from a marketing perspective, to highly curated art spaces where the investment potential of the artworks is maybe a bit more certain.

Read on if collecting art for value has been on your mind lately but maybe you don’t know where exactly to start!

Always collect what you like

The investment potential of art as an asset class has become a major topic as it relates to crypto-art and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) because of the high selling prices that certain digital artworks have fetched in auctions in the past two years. However, art has always been considered an asset class by those in the know – the fact that several mining houses and financial services companies have art collections should underscore that.

That said, one needs to remember that it is considered an alternative asset class; that is, one where the price movements vary a lot and are unpredictable. Much like investing in companies, be it a company listed on the NASDAQ or a startup, the returns will vary. So you must collect art that you like to start with.

The art you collect will beautify your home or maybe an office. So it’s best to like it so that no matter what happens in terms of its collectability, you will always have something to enjoy and share with loved ones and friends.

Attend art fairs

Art fairs are a great place to get a feel for the breadth of your local art ecosystem. They often have an institutional or trade aspect; where art dealers and other galleries can pick up artworks for their clients or show them in their spaces, especially if they are from countries that might not host a fair, and so are great locations to see the best artists that gallerists have to offer.

That might make it seem like the prices of the artworks are very high but art fairs do offer a range of price points. Many experienced art collectors often share how there is an artist whose work they wanted in their collection but thought it was too expensive at the time, only for that artist’s work to become more popular after appearing at an art fair and selling for much higher prices later.

So art fairs can be an ideal location to pick up your first artwork, especially in the case of artists early in their career.

Visit art galleries

Going to a gallery and in particular, the risk that you might be the only person there can be intimidating. The fact that you might be considered to be loitering because you’re in a space where you potentially can’t afford what the gallery is selling can also cause anxiety. But there is no need to worry.

Galleries are a great place to see an artist’s latest works and explore a theme in an exhibition. Also, ask the gallerists about the artworks as the interpretations of the artworks by the artist or by the curator as that’s a big part of the value of art: it makes us think. The interpretation is exactly what will make you fall in love with the artwork or just make it memorable and something you can share whenever someone admires the artwork when it’s in your lounge. Don’t forget to note that memorable thing down when you record that artwork on your Capital Art profile!

If you’re planning to attend an exhibition, check if there is a scheduled walkabout with the artist as that is a great way to engage with artworks and their creator in one go.

There are a few art collector communities that organise exhibition walkabouts periodically; a few will be featured in a future post.

The fact that the covid-19 pandemic has meant that many galleries are now by-appointment-only might feel like another barrier to getting a feel for what you like. But the pandemic has also meant that many exhibitions have an online element and you can see artworks online before going to check them out in person.

Attend an art auction

Art auctions can also be exhibitions in and of themselves. They also often are a set of artworks which been in someone else’s collection already and that can be an indicator of demand for an artwork, and maybe future demand which is a good thing when collecting art for value.

If you’ve never been to an art auction before, resist the urge to get a paddle (which means you can bid on the items up for auction) and rather simply watch and get a feel for how they work. You’ll also see that sometimes artworks which you would think are popular might not have much demand or might not even sell on the day.

As a collector, there may come a time when you use an art auction to sell an artwork yourself. So it’s important and useful to know how they work before being an active participant.

Check out Instagram

Many artists and galleries are leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool. And many artists, especially those who are not represented by traditional art-world intermediaries like galleries and art dealers, are also selling on Instagram, the same way many small businesses are.

Some profiles, like the Capital Art feed, reflect a wide range of artists, and some collectors also have their collections (or at least a part of them) on Instagram.

One warning though is that hours can pass scrolling through the pages of the many artists who are now on this platform and so this guidance can become quite addictive 🙂

Art museums are tricky

Museums are generally institutions of cultural significance and so their permanent collections typically include notable artists, and often artists who have passed on.

That said, many museum curators are deliberate about having diversity in temporary exhibitions and including emerging artists and living artists amongst the pieces which are from their permanent collections where an exhibition is thematic and not focused on a single artist or period in time that might exclude contemporary artists.

Just start

If you haven’t started as yet, just start. The famous saying goes, “The best time to have planted a tree was thirty years ago. The second best time is today.” and the same applies to starting your journey in collecting art for value. And remember to invest in getting familiar with collection management by signing up for the free version of Capital Art (ideally) before or even once you’ve already bought your first artwork.

By following these simple tips, you have a variety of options to start getting a sense of the type of art you will love being surrounded by.

Do remember to come back and tell us once you’ve bought that first piece. if you’re a seasoned art collector, do you remember when you bought your first art piece, and do you have any advice for other budding art collectors? Share them with us below!

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