How to Develop a Great Art Collection

Want to figure out how to start your art collection? Here are some simple ideas.

Figure out what you like.

Do you like paintings, or drawing, or just certain color? Initially, consider buying works on paper. They're typically cheaper than their canvas counterpart.

If you live near art museums or galleries, go and check them out.  If you live in the Boston area, you should be a regular at SOWA First Fridays. It's a great way to get a flavor of what the emerging artist scene. Also, the Internet can be a good resource, do your research using sites like and to find what's new.

Once you figure out what you like, buy it. Obvious, I know. The point is, the art is something you'll have to live with for years to come. So make sure it's something you love, something that emotionally moves you at some level. It can be something that makes you sentimental, excited, calm, etc. Don't buy it just because someone else said it's good. Be careful of art that makes a bold statement. Your taste will change over time.{C}

Set a budget.

Do you want one huge painting or a few small ones? Budget accordingly. You'll get the most value from emerging artists. If you're completely starting out, your range should be $300 - $1000 for a nice original painting by a talented emerging artist. This is a start, once you get comfortable with your taste, you can look into work by more established artists, whose work could start from $3000.

If you have access to international art, take a look at that too. Often you'll find artist famous in their own country selling paintings competitively priced because they're lesser known in your market. Something to ask your art dealer.

Build your network of dealers.

Getting to know a dealer has great benefits (e.g. access to an artist's best work). If you don't live in the city, most dealers are happy to do business via e-mail. More importantly, a good dealer knows the market, so even if they don't personally have what you need, they can probably find it for you. These dealers should also be passionate about what they sell and not treat their product as a commodity. You'll know when you meet them.


Becoming a collector is a process, and it can't be accomplished in a few weeks. Take your time, and take good care of your art by keeping them away from direct sunlight and exposed air vents.

One last thing, in your living space the artwork is the star. So everything else in that space should enhance the artwork, not vice-versa.

How did you start your collection? Leave your comments in the box below.