THE HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL COLLECTORS
Dec 2, 2016
Whatever the reason for your art purchase, be it passion, financial investment, or a combination of the two, take insider advice from our experts. Here, we offer invaluable tips and techniques for successful collecting, including new ways to enlist specialist advice, utilising technologies and social media for your own research, and navigating art fair etiquette.
Until fairly recently, almost all art purchases, made by both seasoned and budding collectors, followed a fairly standard process, usually from a dealer, gallery or auction house. It would often involve, at the very least, viewing the artwork in person, and would most likely extend to liaising with experts face-to-face, carrying out research into the market and finally perhaps, performing due diligence before the transaction occurred.
With the rise of art fairs, perceived by many as a more accessible environment, purchases are often predominantly passionate or emotional, meaning that due diligence can fall by the wayside during the shortened progression from the thrill of the chase to subsequent transaction.
In all instances, but especially when buying with a mind on investment, Nica Gutman Rieppi, Manager of US Operations for Art Analysis, suggests three key considerations to take into account.
The first is authenticity, the onus for which is on the seller. For added security she recommends that the sale is made "contingent on authenticity" and noted as such in the contract.
Secondly, condition. Most dealers and auction houses will produce a condition report, however the small print usually specifies that this has not been carried out by a restorer or specialised assessor. For peace of mind, consider taking your own expert, who will check for damages, as well as subsequent restoration. It is worth noting that certain contemporary artists have been known to disown works where their studio has not carried out restoration.
Lastly, material. How has the piece been made, how will the materials interact with each other over time, or age under certain conditions? Much contemporary art has less traditional media, and understanding how to preserve the essence of the work will also help to maintain value over time.
In today’s art marketplace, there is a likelihood that those considering an online art purchase will utilise either a website, app or social media.
Artworks sold online are often more affordable, but what if the work you viewed doesn't look the same when it arrives? Jessica Davidson, Director of Sales and Business Development at Bidsquare advises reading the return policy before hitting “purchase”, and stresses that while we are now more comfortable than ever buying art online, physical interaction can't be replaced.
Gutman Rieppi advises enlisting the expertise of advisors, auction houses, appraisers, and other specialists in the field as it "takes levels of expertise to provide knowledge". This is where certain developments in the online realm can assist collectors operating at all levels. Davidson agrees, stating that research is critical, collectors should “leverage online platforms to navigate, whether buying online or from a gallery". As well as being valuable sources of information, certain platforms, such as Bidsquare, connect users directly with specialists, rather than acting as intermediary.
Social media can be divisive, and never more so than when viewed through the lens of the art world.
On one hand, Davidson sees visual platforms “level and democratise the playing field”. Where traditionally an elite group of tastemakers dictated the market, social media has widened the audience and created a two-way conversation. Art advisor, Lisa Austin agrees, and utilises social media for research purposes, but still relies on her experience, art history training and old-fashioned pavement pounding in order to make informed decisions. While reaching a wider audience is a huge positive, the flip side of the growth of the collector as curator, is that collectors are not necessarily experts and shouldn't be relied upon in place of those in the industry with proven expertise, such as curators, advisors and specialists.
Both seasoned collectors and those new to collecting find themselves in a fortunate position as art expertise and technology converge. Not only do we have access to some of the greatest expertise, whether face-to-face or via online platforms, we also have the means to educate ourselves, to follow the artists that interest us, to develop our own eye and to curate our own collection.
By using these tools, investigating what we like, rather than what is hot, Austin firmly believes that it is possible to “become your own expert”.
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