The Best Way To Get Your Art Collection Started

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It was bound to happen. You got older. You got wiser. “The Crow” and the “Pulp Fiction” posters that were tacked up in your college living room made way for the more sophisticated framed skylines from Ikea and  machine-printed canvases from Urban Outfitters in the living room of your early twenties. And that brings us to your first adult apartment, where your focus has shifted from filling space to investing in pieces that will not only last through a move, but also give visitors a taste of your style – not to mention create a comfortable and inspiring place to call home.

As you build the collection of furniture and décor that makes up your life, you may also want to consider stepping outside of the design realm, and begin building a collection of art.  I know, art can be intimidating at first- or rather not so much the art, but the art world. More specifically the people, who can sometimes make you feel like a total idiot for merely setting foot in a gallery. But snobs aside, building an art collection is a fun, life long adventure that will shape itself as you grow with it. Living with art is inspiring, insightful and can bring a smile to your face after a hard day. It is also an investment that can appreciate through the years, although I can’t get into that type of collecting.

Eventually, the goal is to have a somewhat cohesive collection. But truth be told, you’re probably going to have a bit of a mish-mosh in the beginning, as you get to know your personal tastes and get the feel of the direction of your collection. We are each continually drawn to certain visual elements–certain colors, patterns, and shapes, and as you look at art, you’ll develop what turns you on the most.

In an ideal world, I’d suggest going out and seeing as much art as possible, but we all have lives, work insane hours and have a zillion other things to do, so that’s when we turn to our trusty friend, the internet.  Lots of sites give a run down of what is going on in the art world, conveniently at a click to peruse while you’re slaving away at the office.  Artslant.com, Juxtapoz.com, and Artinfo are good places to start. If you need a more structured method, the Art Style Guide is a great resource for beginning collectors. You can also flip through magazines like Modern Painters, High Fructose, and Art in America during your morning commute.

Okay, you’ve seen art, you like it, you want to start buying it.  Starting with prints is a great way to furnish your walls quickly. Prints are lower cost, but still have a market of their own–sites like Expressobeans.com are dedicated exclusively to the print market. Gallery owner Jen Bekman, whose gallery is on New York’s Lower East Side, devised the philosophy that art is for everyone, with her side business called 20×200. Each week, 20X200 releases at least 2 new editions by artists, and come in a range of sizes, with prices starting at just $20.

Exhibition A is the brainchild of Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers. The Gilt Group-style members only site offers exclusive prints from big names, available for four weeks only in an open edition — basically based on how many sell during that period. It’s a great way to get some amazing images, affordably. Membership is free, prints range from around $100-$1000, and the site has interviews with artists and collectors alike.

Art collectives are also a great way to pick up works, as they often sell independently, meaning they don’t have to give a cut to a gallery. My faves are Space 1026, and  The Brooklyn Collective.

But let’s face it, the best way to start an art collection is to become friends with artists, and charm the pants off of them until they give a piece to you. Alcohol helps.

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