Friday, February 09, 2007

Eileen’s Helpful Tips
For The Beginning Art Collector

1. Buy art if you absolutely LOVE the art piece. This seems like a simple premise, but so many beginning collectors get caught up in the “investment perspective” of art collecting. If a piece of artwork speaks to you on an emotional level by appealing to your memories of childhood, for example you will always be happy with your purchase regardless of any perceived investment potential of the work.

2. Visit art galleries, museums, and artist studios often to get an idea of what the art world is like. Many cities have gallery walks in the art district where galleries open their doors and offer refreshments, music, and the artists are there to answer questions about their work. This is a non-threatening way for first-time gallery goers to observe. Don’t be afraid to ask the artist questions; we really like to talk about our work! You are not “bothering” us, and there are no “dumb questions.”

3. Revisit a few of the galleries that you found particularly interesting at a less busy time. Spend some time in the gallery, sit in front of the piece you are interested in, ask the gallery staff questions about the work and questions about the artist. A good gallery will know about their artists: Where did she get her training? What medium is the work? What is involved in the artist’s creative process? Where has she exhibited? Does she work full-time as an artist? Where can her work be seen in any public or corporate collections? Where has her work been published?

4. Some galleries allow the work to be purchased on a conditional basis, and if the buyer doesn’t like the piece in his home he may return it (in good condition of course). Other galleries offer a representative to go to your home and install the piece for you. Don’t be afraid to utilize the expertise and services of the gallery – that is what they are there for!

5. Don’t ever allow yourself to be intimated by an art gallery. If the gallery staff acts snobbish, go somewhere else. You are the customer, you are buying art, and they are there to help you. There are many very pleasant galleries in which to invest your art collecting time.

6. Find out about the artist. Ask to see the “artist binder” where you will find an artist statement, bio, and exhibition history. An artist who has experience in exhibitions will be more collectible than one who doesn’t. You can also search the artist online to discover more information about her. Never try to “undercut” the gallery by contacting the artist directly. A professional artist will not shortchange or sell-out her gallery. Look for published articles about the artist and her work. An artist who has some media following will be more collectible than one who doesn’t.

7. Does the artist release Signed Limited Edition Prints of her work? Popularity of these prints often makes the originals more valuable.

8. Buy art that fits your own family budget. If you spent more than you really should have, you may have a negative connection to the artwork every time you view it in your home. There is artwork available to fit every budget, from high end originals, to Limited Edition Giclee Prints, to posters.

9. Have the prices of the artist’s work been steadily and gradually increasing over the years. This is a sign of a strong career development; artificially inflated prices are often just fake.

10. Is the artwork framed using archival materials? Is everything that comes in contact with the actual piece acid-free? This insures that your art investment will remain protected and sound. Ask the gallery if there are any special precautions about how and where the work should be hung. Certain media should not be hung in direct sunlight, for example.

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