If you love to surround yourself with beautiful things, investing in art can be a wonderful way to do just that — and maybe make a little money too. Sure, for the 99.99 percent of us who aren’t art-world insiders, getting into the collecting scene can be daunting. But don’t be intimidated! We spoke with art advisor Rachel Greene of Art & Advisory about the savviest way to start your own collection.
INVEST IN A FEW ART BOOKS
Before you start shopping, hit the bookstore. “I want all of my clients to start with art books,” says Greene. “It’s the cheapest way to learn about what they like.”
WINDOW-SHOP AT ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS
Next, “Start going to museum exhibitions and galleries,” says Greene. If you have only $100 to begin investing in art, Greene suggests seeking out spaces that show emerging contemporary artists, whose work is likely to be more affordable than late-career artists. “You ideally want to invest in artists who are having gallery and museum shows, and whose work is in important public or private collections. Also, are people paying attention? You want them to be written about, even on a local level,” Greene says.
When you find a gallery you like, sign up for its mailing list so you can be first to hear about openings where you can buy new art. (Bonus: they usually serve free wine!) And don’t be shy about chatting up the gallery representatives, who are there to help you. One word of caution: Not all galleries are reputable, so do your research. “I’ve had to tell clients that the Andy Warhol piece they bought in Vegas was really wallpaper in a frame,” says Greene.
CONSIDER CALLING IN THE PROFESSIONALS
Once you’ve nailed down what you’re looking for, Greene suggests working with an art consultant. Fortunately, art consultants or advisors don’t have to cost you anything — their fee is usually a percentage of the work purchased. Galleries will often offer consultants a discount, allowing the consultant to buy on behalf of the client at full price and take the discounted amount as their pay.
DON’T OVERSPEND FOR A FAMOUS ARTIST
If you’re not ready to pay full price for a piece from a well-known artist, consider an edition. In photography or printmaking, an edition is a series of prints created from a single image or plate. A limited edition is when only a predetermined number of prints can be made. These are usually signed and numbered by the artist. In an open edition, the artist may create unlimited replicas of an image, potentially diluting the value of your investment. While limited editions are preferable, consider either type if you have your eye on a star artist. “I bought a print by Cecily Brown, one of the greatest artists of our time, because that was the only way I could afford one of her works,” says Greene. Looking for a large-scale work? A photographic edition will likely be your most affordable option.
LOOK ONLINE, TOO
Once overlooked by art-world insiders, a host of quality online art galleries are now at every art enthusiast’s disposal. Greene’s favorites are Artsy.net and Artspace.com, which, she says, “have great curating and some good critical writing, as well. They help you wade through the market, so you don’t end up with something random and meaningless.”
MAKE SOME DECISIONS BEFORE YOU BRING YOUR ART HOME
Before bringing your new work of art home, make sure your home or renter’s insurance will cover its value. You may need to buy additional coverage.
Also, be careful where you put your art. If the work could fade, make sure to hang it away from direct sunlight.
Now, sit back and enjoy your art. As Pablo Picasso himself said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
When you find a gallery you like, sign up for their mailing list so you can be first to hear about openings. (Bonus: they usually serve free wine!)