How To Start An Art Collection (Without Being A Millionaire)
So you watched Velvet Buzzsaw, and while you laughed at Jake Gyllenhaal’s pretentious, bespectacled art critic Morf you were also left a little curious by the film’s art-bedecked LA apartments. How do you start your own art collection without spending millions or pounds or getting it horribly wrong?
I’ve been lucky enough to work in the contemporary art world for the best part of a decade, and while there’s no doubting it can be an aspirational world (translation: for the mega rich), I’m still surprised art collecting isn’t something more people explore. Done smartly, it can be one of the most rewarding and exciting ways to invest your hard-earned cash – and you don’t have to be Sultan, either.
The 2016 auction of David Bowie’s private collection and the recent George Michael sale at
I bought some artwork for one million
Two years later, that shit worth two million
I can't wait to give this shit to my children
('The Story of O.J.')
Now you’re convinced, here’s an insider’s guide to starting your art collection on a budget.
Buy at Graduate Shows
Graduate shows offer affordable art and support nascent careers, but how do you spot the good stuff? It’s not easy: often we don’t ‘get’ great artists at first because they’re pushing boundaries (sometimes, of course, they're just not very good). So spend some time with the work you like and seek out the artist behind them; asking questions will help you make an informed decision as to its lasting appeal.
Central Saint Martins, Goldsmiths
"This comes at the end of an intense three-year MA programme and is one of the most competitive in the world. You can pick up bargains, but have to get your skates on as the Royal Academy patrons get first dibs and have usually stripped the place bare within a few days of the first preview."
Buy posters and prints
"If you can’t afford to spend hundreds of pounds on artwork, or if you just need to get a head start, consider posters or prints," suggests Art Business Entrepreneur Sharon Obuobi. Even an exhibition poster can accrue value: I bought a signed poster at Gilbert & George’s 2015 White Cube exhibition for a tenner, and now they’re selling for around £100.
Little recommends House of Voltaire, Whitechapel Gallery and The Photographer’s Gallery as good places to start. "Counter Editions work with some of the best artists in the business and I’d say anything you buy from them is money well spent," he adds. "A general guide when starting to buy prints and editions is to either buy high edition number, lower value prints by very well-known artists, or low edition number, cheap prints by emerging artists."
In layman’s terms, this refers to the
Instagram – ‘Bloomberg for the art world’?
"I often describe Instagram as ‘Bloomberg for the art world’ (and get roundly mocked for it!), but I think it’s
Millennials are increasingly turning to the'Gram to buy works and Katy Hessel, curator
Many artists will interact via DM and accept payment via PayPal. Look for in-progress shots and ask questions about provenance if you’re concerned about scammers. If you’re not ready to buy digitally– use it as inspiration. great accounts to follow
The big art fairs boast A-list collectors. At Miami Basel last December I saw Kanye West, David Beckham and Ben Fogle all on the same day (name a more iconic trio). But smaller ‘satellite fairs’ have sprung up around the marquee events, and offer more affordable options.
"Navigating the younger, trendier fairs, such as NADA in Miami, or Liste in Basel, can be slightly
Explore new markets
There’s a much-quoted description of the art world as ‘pale, male and stale’ and, to be honest, it’s pretty accurate. The trick is to avoid the markets the establishment crows prefer, which is usually US or European (often male) megastars. You’re not going to walk straight out of
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.