By now, you have discovered that art can be found worldwide, and you can procure it as easily as the touch of a button on your smartphone. However, determining what to buy, and deciphering a good purchase at the right price is altogether something different.

There is more to collecting art than the feeling you get when viewing a piece of work, and much risk in simply purchasing artwork on a whim. Successful art collectors and true aficionados have developed their skills—and instinct—over time. These important points can help you begin your journey to collecting and understanding art.

Love It First

First and foremost, look for artwork that speaks to you. You certainly don’t want to visit an artist’s website, gallery, or art auction with the determination that you are going to purchase something, no matter what. There will always be artists and artwork somewhere that excite you. Don’t settle for art just to say you bought something!

As much as you may feel drawn to one or two styles, be open-minded to discover a range of styles, mediums, and techniques.

Learn About It

Many people have created art, studied art, and written about art over the years, continuing today. Find every conceivable way to learn—visiting museums, galleries, and reading the myriad of art books found in libraries. Take advantage of opportunities to attend juried exhibitions, where you can “rub elbows” with leading art professionals and discover how (and why) awards are given.

The internet is a valuable tool to learn about art as well—you are not only able to see many more artists’ work on their personal sites, but can get a glimpse of art found in leading museums you may not be able to visit in person, and list and participate in online discussions about many art topics. Be a sponge & take in all the information you can!

 

But, Don’t Always Listen

You may be tempted, armed with some newfound knowledge, to step up and take in a big art auction or visit a high sales gallery. However, your inexperience may shine through when you start to feel the excitement at the event; dealers and others’ not-so-hushed comments urging others to purchase pieces right away could lead you to make unplanned purchases.

Follow your eyes, close your ears to most of the chatter going on around you, as often you will find opinions tossed around by those who are trying to play on your emotions and inexperience. Ask questions, but until you are confident, don’t go in without being prepared to walk away with little more than an increased understanding of art.

Look for Trusted Advisors

In your early experience in discovering and learning about art, you will encounter industry experts who are willing to give free (and useful) insight. Take it all in, and build relationships with those who may share similar experiences or taste with you. More experienced collectors may share some of their (expensive) lessons or disasters they have survived in their collecting experience. Art curators may describe some artists’ careers from their years of involvement. And you may decide you don’t mind the cost of hiring a professional art advisor, even for a set period. Look for recommendations and don’t ignore reviews—although the art market may feel large, the community of professionals is small, so reputations can be discovered without much work.

Accept Change in Yourself…It Is Growth

You will move from a few early pieces to collections. You could discover you tend to follow one, or a group of a few artists, or even more from one style to another. Remember, you are growing as an art appreciator and collector. You may even discover one day that you finally have “an eye” for art and want to share your passion and experience with others! Congratulations—but don’t forget that as new artists are discovered, so should your knowledge base and abilities. Keep growing!

The discovery of art and your individual taste as an art collector is a story of continued growth and development. These tips will help you along your journey–and one day, may allow you to help others down the same path.