Collecting Art: Why? How?

Digging into your wallet to buy art? Making the leap can be scary for ordinary people. However, an interest in art is increasing, and even moreso for young people.

Reasons for Collecting Art

Current studies show that nearly 30% of women and 27% of men say they are interested in art. Some of them are collectors: individuals who possess artwork and remain close to market activity in order to buy or sell art.

When we talk about the “Art Market” we rightly think of an expensive, elitist and inaccessible market for the general public.

However, another art market exists: a market accessible to everyone and made possible by platforms such as ArtWe who organize a local and direct art exchange. Everyone can be a collector!

Public looking at Aurélie Darish’s paintings (Montréal) / Photo credit Yoann Shon Gehlen

A recent survey had, as its objective, the goal of bringing to light the reasons for collecting art from the current collectors’ perspective:

Three trends that motivate the acquisition of artwork by collectors can be highlighted from this graph:

1. The aesthetic aspects and the emotions that art provides. It feels good to see this criteria ranked first in the reasons for collecting art. The search for Beauty is a quest that has animated humanity since the dawn of time (in prehistoric times, our ancestors carved stone monoliths!).

2. The financial potential: Art as an investment is a reality, and it is necessary for the art world. However, this market is only accessible to a handful of collectors with very high incomes who can acquire artworks from major galleries and auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s etc.). Theses artworks represent real financial assets with a high potential of profit (in addition to being exceptional pieces!).

3. The social recognition provided by art. Being interested in art is well regarded in society. In the collective unconscious, an individual who has an artistic sensibility is immediately assumed (rightly or wrongly) to have intellectual qualities such as a good culture, a developed taste and open-mindedness.

We can also go further into the field of social recognition and talk about posterity. The great collector wants to be part of Art History by becoming a representative of either an artistic movement, an artist or an artwork.  In this way, he or she can leave an indelible imprint on the art world.

Marie-Eve Côté’s Painting (Montréal) / Photo credit Simon Girard

Advice for Future Collectors

1. Buy original artwork (not reproductions): Space is limited on your wall, so buy unique pieces of art that you love and are proud to exhibit.

2. Select quality over quantity: One great piece is better than 100 pieces of medium quality art.

3. Buy with your eyes and your heart, never with your ears: In other words, do not allow yourself to become influenced by other people’s words or the sudden appearance of a “good deal.”

The ability to make a purchase is self-taught. Although the collector can take advice from his entourage, artwork that pleases him will always be a good purchase decision. A piece belongs to a collection because it matches the collector’s sensitivity.

4. Go see a lot of art! A good way to build a beautiful collection is by looking at art in exhibitions, museums, art fairs or galleries. This will develop your sensibility and your artistic eye. “It is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith.”

5. Be careful about prices: Keep in mind that prices should be consistent with the artwork. Art prices are difficult to define objectively. However, there are some variables that you should think about when buying your first pieces of art:

  • The size of the piece: The bigger it is, the more expensive it might be.
  • The medium: A sculpture made of gold should be more expensive than a sculpture made of clay.
  • The artist, his career, his reputation: Is the artist an unknown but emerging painter, a neighbor who is a hobby-painter, or a world-renowned artist?
  • The length of time the artist has spent working on the piece.
  • The place and venue where you are purchasing the piece: Are you buying it directly from the artist or through a gallery? Is it located in a developed country or emerging one? These factors will have an impact on pricing.

Never forget: pricing in art can be unpredictable and irrational. The best tool that you have to evaluate the price of a piece of artwork is your instinct. If you think that it’s overpriced (and sometimes it is!) pass on it.

6. Seek out the artist’s message: Your aesthetic preferences and the feelings you have about a piece of art are primordial, but try to go beyond those factors to understand the message that the artist wants to deliver through his artwork. It will make your collection richer and more profound.

7. Confirm that the art piece is dated and signed: The artist’s signature and creation date are fundamental elements to consider when buying a piece of art. If it is not dated or signed, ask the artist to do so, or reconsider your purchase.

8. Ask for a certificate of authenticity when possible: A certificate of authenticity is a document that follows the work and testifies its authenticity (in addition to the signature). The artist him/herself is the most reliable person to establish authenticity.

9. Avoid compulsive shopping: The acquisition of art must never be done compulsively. Make thoughtful and planned purchases to avoid regrets.

Mylène Derrey’s painting, French artist

Opening soon: A new local platform promoting unique & authentic pieces of art from where you can start your collection! [].

Jean-Louis Derrey – Artwe Founder

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  • Artnet :

A great website that publishes all kind of content related to Art.

  • GraffitiArt – le magazine de l’art contemporain – n38, article “Le guide du collectionneur” d’Elodie Cabrera

A super nice magazine about Contemporary Art, focused on Street Art.