So You Want to Be a Serious Art Collector?

Nov 20, 2019

Well, there are serious art collectors and then there are trend-followers. Where do you fall? There’s also a big difference between building an art collection and buying a piece of art. Creating an art collection takes skills, passion and dedication to develop personal tastes, industry relationships and buyer confidence.

Having a good sense of instinct and intuition will help you on your way, but for most successful art collectors, having a strategic process for buying art is required. The art market is a tricky terrain to navigate as trends change and artists come in and out of favour. Every collector has their own method they follow, but most start out with a well thought out plan to build their art collection.

Think of buying art like a journey, which you can make as simple or complex as you like depending on your objectives. As you test out strategies, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get opinions from others more experienced than you. If your goal is to become a knowledgeable and confident art collector, you’ll have to master a few skills and understand your options as seen here in our video Demystifying Art Collecting.


You’ll need to invest time in learning, advancing your skills and building relationships or consider investing in the services of a qualified and reputable art advisor. An art advisor should be knowledgeable about the art market and specifically about the historical genre and medium you gravitate to. Finding the right art advisor can be a challenge on its own as anyone can call themselves an art advisor, hence why we created our online Art Advisory 101 and 201 professional programs to help set a benchmark in the industry. If this is a route you wish to explore, make sure your art advisor is experienced, established, reputable, and you know their fees upfront.

Art collectors to some extent tend to initially collect what they are familiar with and buy art from certain artists, time periods and mediums. It pays to keep an open mind and investigate emerging artists and new mediums like performance, digital or video art. Consider getting involved in your local art community to meet collectors with similar interests and look for more experienced collectors that can mentor you along the way.

Visit museums, galleries and art fairs and browse gallery sites, art auctions, industry reports and market news to boost your knowledge and confidence. Make art galleries part of your routine to build relationships with dealers and artists as well as see art in the flesh as oppose to online. Learn about what new artists are coming on the market and what the industry trends are.

While buying directly from the artist is typically the less expensive option, galleries have been known to offer discounts to first time buyers, as well as flexible financing options. When it comes to medium, don’t be afraid to look at works with multiple editions like photography and prints that usually have a lower price point.

Art auctions can be intimidating, but if you understand how they work, they can be a unique experience and lot of fun! You can find an auction house in pretty much every major city and once you’ve participated once or twice, you’ll get the hang of it. Auctions can also be very affordable and with a bit of luck, you might pick up a gem for a steal.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to be a successful art collector. Figure out what your budget is and be sure to take into consideration extra costs for framing, shipping, insurance, auction buyer’s premiums and other bits and bobs that come with owning art such as regular maintenance and care. Whether you are buying out of personal passion or as a financial investment, it is also important to ask the right questions to the right people, at the right time as seen in our video The Habits of Successful Collectors.


Now, if your buying art simply as investment, we advise you to think again. Art can bring more joy than stocks and bonds, as you can hang the asset on your wall, so first buy what you love. Spotting rising stars is a challenge for even the most experienced art advisors and dealers. It is very hard to truly predict if an artist will actually achieve fame in their career. Factors such rarity, provenance, medium, period, market trends, condition and the artist’s reputation can all impact the future value.

Once you’ve fallen in love, done your research, sought opinions of experts and you’re ready to put down your money, make sure you receive the certificates of authenticity and provenance. These documents will be crucial in establishing authenticity and value.

One Art Nation is committed to demystifying the process of buying art from start to finish. Access free videos to learn from prominent art experts as they address topics from building, maintaining and protecting an art collection, to tax and financial aspects of owning art. Watch Now