Collecting art doesn’t have to be overwhelming—anyone with an appreciation for a great gallery wall can be a collector, whether you’re bidding during auctions at Sotheby’s, rummaging through giveaways at a garage sale, or just browsing the web looking for the best affordable art out there.
The key thing to remember? Collections take time. Here, Dara Deshe Segal, founder of Simply Framed, shares the fundamentals of becoming an amateur art connoisseur. Your walls will be more interesting before you know it.
Create a budget that works for you.
Figure out what works best within your means, because let’s face it: Art can be expensive.
Some friends have an annual art budget that is essentially play money, and they choose to spend their disposable income building a collection. Others are more interested in decorating their space. You need to discover where your priorities lie, and that can help you figure out how much art you’ll actually purchase. That said, you can also find plenty of prints for less than a few hundred dollars.
Work to save in other areas, if creating a gallery wall is your top priority.
You could also think of it like part of a balanced diet. Take the money that you would have spent on dessert, alcohol, or bottled water, and apply that toward building your art collection.
Sign up for newsletters to get first dibs on art from websites like The Posters, 20×200.com, Uprise Art, Instant Gallery, Eye Buy Art, Exhibition A, Artfully Walls, Tappan Collective, ArtStar, and Saatchi Art. You’ll be able to compare prices on similar pieces and styles you might like, while always staying up-to-date on new releases until you find just the piece you’re looking for.
Don’t forget about online galleries.
We live in an amazing time where there are a ton of online art galleries that curate and introduce fantastic artists, and sell both originals and limited edition prints. Check out a few of our favorites here.
Remember that originals can be affordable.
Once you find an artist whose work speaks to you, I recommend searching to see if that artist has his or her own online gallery set up, and checking there for originals or additional works. Originals are often more affordable than you might think.
We also recommend checking out CoCo Gallery, a service that connects you with artists who will create customized pieces of art just for you. Prices start at $300, which is relatively affordable for pieces such as these.
Don’t forget the frame.
It’s incredibly important to use acid-free materials when framing to prevent discoloration, and a UV-shielding glass or plexiglass. After all, you wouldn’t want your hard-found pieces to get damaged.
We’ve also observed that decorating styles change, so picking a frame that is timeless and can work from room to room is the safest bet. It gives you flexibility in the long run. This is especially important if you’re renting, as your home will constantly change.
Keep your art pieces away from the sun.
On that note, make sure to keep your pieces away from direct sunlight or moisture, in order to prevent discoloration or moldiness. In general, we recommend hanging the work away from direct sunlight.
Matching is overrated.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to match a room versus buying something that they love independently. Your piece of art should reflect who you are as a person, and that’s way more important than matching it to a space because you think it’ll look good. You won’t get the joy from your art that you should if you simply try to follow trends.
Live with it for a little bit.
If possible, see if you can “rent” a piece and let it hang in your home for a temporary period of time, so you can decide whether or not it works for you. Some galleries will allow you to install the work on consignment, so you have time to live with the work in your space.
Photographers are artists, too.
If the art you’ve seen isn’t speaking to you, maybe photos are more up your alley. Segal recommends Max Wanger, Ashley Woodson Bailey, Hamish Robertson, Anna Dalton Church, Dean West, Randal Ford, Drew Doggett, Kate Holstein, and KT Merry to start.
Learn to make concessions.
When merging an art collection with a significant other or roommate, I recommend laying down everything you already own on the floor (preferably a rug) to help visualize a salon-style gallery wall before you hang everything. If that’s not working, have an honest conversation about which pieces you can’t live without, and which pieces can be put into storage.
This story was originally published July 13, 2016. It has been updated with new information.
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