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How to start an art collection

Are you an art enthusiast wanting to start an art collection but are not quite sure where to start? While some of us may think that acquiring museum-worthy artwork isn’t within reach, rest assured that the world’s greatest collectors all had to start somewhere. Although it may not feel simple, if it is done smartly, becoming an art collector can be the most exciting way to invest in creativity and the art world. Buying a piece of art is much more than a simple investment story.

The art world is the perfect place to explore your taste. There’s something for everyone and a piece from an exciting contemporary artist, or even a great master, are more within reach than you might think!

“Art comforts me. Having art I love on the wall has the same cathartic effect as having the books I love on the shelf. I don’t get people who live with bare walls – I wish I had more walls!”

Ryan Grant Little, art collector from Berlin

Why start an art collection ?

There is no one reason to start an art collection, there are many. For some collectors, they acquire artwork as a form of investment, for others, they want to support an artist. Your reason may be wanting to decorate your walls or because you simply fell in love with a piece! In the end, purchasing art is a very subjective experience, anyone can do it. It is not exclusive to experts or celebrities, there are new art collectors all over the world everyday and you could be the next person to hang a great master’s artwork on your walls! What matters is buying art that you truly love, discover our tips to get started below.

“I collect art because it brings me joy and variety; because I admire creativity and artistic ability; and because I love the interaction of form and color.”

Ralph Anstoetz, head of design and managing partner of the JAB ANSTOETZ Group, Art collector from Germany

Tips to purchase your first artwork

We recommend getting out a notebook to write out what you will need to start your search.

1. Set a budget

Setting a budget will narrow down your search, allowing you to see what is possible. You can definitely start small and increase your budget as you grow your art collection and increase your confidence and understanding of the art world. A budget of 1,000 EUR is a good starting point for your first purchase, but do not hesitate to define a budget where you feel comfortable. Also keep in mind that purchasing in art favors quality over quantity, meaning that investing more on less is very common..

2. Define your goals

Ask yourself the following questions: What are you expecting from this experience? Would you prefer purchasing artwork from an emerging artist or one from a great master? What type of artworks are you attracted to? Where would you like to hang it? Question your tastes and envision yourself acquiring a work.  

Your main goal should be to acquire an artwork that brings you joy. Do not purchase an artwork because the market considers it valuable, acquire what speaks to you.

3. Research and look at artworks

Once you have defined your budget and goals, you should do a little research on art history and its masters, different types of artworks, mediums, styles and some key artists that are out there to understand the differences between them.

By researching these aspects, you will be able to train your eye to identify different styles and put words to your preferences, such as, abstract paintings, digital prints, sculptures, black and white photography and so on. One great tool to use to research some artworks and get inspired is Instagram and Pinterest. These are useful platforms for young collectors to find inspiration to save works they like. Singulart’s Instagram account shares new artworks and artists on a daily basis. Youtube is also a great tool to discover new artists and to learn about their personal story, you can watch Singulart’s series Behind The Canvas to get more information about our artists.

Spending time online will teach you a lot. On Singulart’s website, you can browse through contemporary artworks and start to build a collection of works that fit your unique style by using the “Favorites” option. You can also peruse exclusive online sales featuring artworks from great masters on a regular basis. Additionally, if you are interested in buying art as an investment, you will need to take some time to grasp market trends. To understand the value of artworks and the market’s functionings, follow auction houses news, art magazines and websites. SINGULART is also preparing special newsletters such as Price Increase Newsletters about the art market for you to be updated on a daily basis. 

Expand your research by going to museums, galleries and  attending art fairs when you can. A tip for discovering emerging artists and trends is to check the graduate shows of the major art schools such as the Central Saint Martins, Royal Academy School in London, the Beaux-Arts of Paris and much more. In the midst of your research, ask your questions and try to understand the artist and the story behind the artwork. Our team of art advisors is always available to answer any of your questions. Lastly, you could always talk to one of our art advisors to guide you through the art market and define your taste. SINGULART is delighted to guide you through your first purchase by helping you find art you love.

“I like to be well informed about the artist I am going to purchase an artwork from. I read a lot about them – mostly in specialized art papers or magazines – talk to gallerists, and if I can, I meet the artist themselves”

Angelique Aubert, former director of patronage, artistic projects and contemporary art collection at Emerige, French collector

4. Trust your instincts and do it

Once you have found the artwork that you adore, all there is left to do is to acquire it. You cannot go wrong by following your instinct. Contact our art advisors to get the best deal for the artwork!

“I purchase art if the piece speaks to me in the first few seconds I see it – only then. It was as true then as it is now.”

Anne de Kerckhove, CEO of Freespee, Belgian-Canadian art collector

Your first artwork

Buying your very first artwork is a big step and it might be scary to spend your money on a piece. If you are hoping to own an artwork from a great master, remember that works on paper are always more affordable than paintings. Same applies to limited editions prints, these are great investments, which can work perfectly as the first piece in your art collection. Also consider sculptures, they make wonderful displays at home and guarantee a unique first impression for your guests. When it comes to paintings, you can always go for a small piece from a renowned artist or place a bet on an emerging artist, it will all depend on your research, so be sure to check their resume/CV, their social media, their solo shows and press coverage.

“Take your time! Define what kind of art attracts you the most (figurative, abstract, etc.) and try to understand why. Then see as much art as you can, going to art fairs and museums to educate your eye. I always recommend reading a lot and asking questions to gallerists or art advisors. Finally, don’t be afraid of young artists – trust your eye and your taste”

Angelique Aubert,  former director of patronage, artistic projects and contemporary art collection at Emerige, French collector

Once you acquired your first piece

Congratulations, you have bought your first piece 🙂 Now it is important for you to frame it as soon as you have it and make sure you conserve it well because you will keep it for a lifetime! As a new collector, you should always keep the certificates of authenticity, as they are the proof of the artworks origins. These certificates might be useful if you ever wish to resell it as well. Your first artwork usually will not be your last, so have fun with mixing and matching as you grow your collection !

“Buy the pieces you love, forget about matching décor, don’t plan on making money in art unless you really plan on making money in art.”

– Ryan Grant Little, art collector from Berlin

Hopefully these tips made you consider starting your own art collection. SINGULART is delighted to provide all the tips, expertise and opportunities to do so. Please reach out to our team to help you get started.