How to Start Collecting Art

Get tips for buying art and starting an art collection in your home or apartment

Starting an art collection can be rewarding for serious art enthusiasts and casual collectors alike. Though many people enjoy art, collecting requires commitment, an understanding of basic art principles and strong money management skills. In this guide, we'll help you learn how to start an art collection by providing you with practical tips and considerations for buying art.

Start saving for your art collection with an interest checking account

Before you begin, you may want to consider how an interest checking account could help you grow your art collection. With an interest checking account from Citizens Bank, you'll get competitive interest rates to grow your art collecting fund quickly. Perfect for short-term financial goals, interest checking offers convenient access to your money, so you are able to spend it when the right moment arises. Having timely access to your saved funds when you are bidding at an auction or making an offer on a coveted piece is especially important. Open a bank account online with Citizens Bank to plan and save for starting an art collection.

Identify what type of art you want before starting an art collection

Starting an art collection is different from purchasing a single piece you like, as you need to strategically choose which style(s) of art you're going to collect. It's important to think holistically from the beginning since the very first piece could shape the rest of your collection. However, you don't have to stick to one style; if you like different types of art, you can curate a diverse collection by varying where and how it is displayed. Perhaps one room in your home will feature antiquities, while another's centerpiece is a post-modern work.

The best way to delve into your artistic motivations is to visit art museums, galleries and shows to determine which periods, mediums, artists, styles or particular pieces appeal to you. It can be difficult for amateur buyers to ascertain which pieces will go well together at first, which is why it is important to carefully consider your art purchases and consult experts. Ask museum guides, read reviews by art critics and consider chatting with an art buyer or interior decorator (even if you don't hire them, the consultation could be helpful). By researching and laying the foundation for a cohesive collection, you can ensure you're spending wisely.

Basic tips on how to start collecting art

Once you have sufficiently identified the type of artwork you plan to collect, you can get started on hunting for specific pieces with these tips:

  • Look for art you connect with emotionally or intellectually - Go beyond buying art that is aesthetically pleasing. Researching the artist, the themes and the history of the work can help you form a deeper connection and get more enjoyment out of your investment.

  • Shop local - When you're starting an art collection, it's unlikely you'll be able to afford a masterpiece. However, you may find that local art resonates with you more than a high-end piece from a famous artist, and it's often more affordable.

  • Compare your options - As with any large purchase, you should carefully consider a work's value, history and future value compared with other potential pieces. Though you may love a particular painting, you might find a very similar work at another gallery for a competitive price.

  • Work with a professional - Seek out an art consultant to provide insights on pricing, authenticity and the reputations of art galleries. This is especially important as you get into high-end art buying; it will be helpful to have someone who knows the market to guide you. Additionally, you may want to consider an online subscription service like artnet®, which allows you to browse available art online, review prices, and even bid in online auctions.

  • Have a piece authenticated - Whether you're buying an antique, a painting or a sculpture, if it is meant to have significant value or be an original from a renowned artist, have the work validated by an outside expert.

Learn proper etiquette for buying art from auctions and galleries

One of the most important elements of learning how to start an art collection is knowing where and how to make a purchase. Though you can buy from an individual or at an art show, the two most popular venues are galleries and art auctions. These tips will help you navigate both:

  • Art gallery etiquette - Because art collecting is often a lifelong hobby, collectors and dealers form long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships when both are ethical and courteous in their dealings. Forging a positive relationship with an art gallery can help you gain preferential access to new works, introductions to up-and-coming artists and much more. To help cultivate that relationship, keep in mind that galleries generally set their prices according to a set commission structure, so asking for a lower price can be interpreted as rude. If you feel like a work is significantly overpriced, get a second opinion from an art consultant rather than questioning the gallery directly. That way, you can preserve the relationship with the gallery while still ensuring your investment is sound.

  • Art auction etiquette - Art auctions might be intimidating for newcomers, so it's wise to attend a 'practice' auction first, where you observe and take notes without purchasing anything. Once you feel comfortable with the auction process, attend an auction to make a purchase. Be sure to buy the catalog of items being auctioned, attend the auction preview to inspect the art in person, register for the auction 24 - 48 hours prior, know the dress code and have your method of purchase on hand.

Utilize online and mobile banking options from Citizens Bank to manage your art collecting fund

When you need to budget for the cost of starting an art collection, consider the many money management tools available through Citizens Bank. In addition to growing your money with an interest checking account, you can take advantage of extensive online and mobile banking options to manage your money while you're on the go - including the ability to transfer funds or check your balance before making an art purchase. Contact Citizens Bank to get the tools you need to start building your art collection today.


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