Even though there are so few of us left in the world these days that aren’t billionaires, there are still ways for us folk to start our own art collections if you were wondering. Okay, I’m not betrothing you to Picasso’s entire Blue Period collection or anything, but I also might be. With that said, thing about being an art collector is that you’re predominantly going to need to collect some art. There’s really not much more to it than that, so you’re just going to have to do that.
The current problem being that you walk into most galleries and everything in sight costs more than you’ve managed to keep in the savings account post childhood allowance years. Which is discouraging. And I know collector sounds like some aggrandized term allotted only to people like that elusive aunt of yours who wears gallery gift-shop scarves, but no, you too can be an art collector.
So maybe attempt some of these:
TRY BOOKS & ZINES FIRST
I know, you’re sick of it with the book thing. Left and right people keep telling you to “read up”! Well guess what, these books are chiefly filled with pictures, sometimes. Just put a couple of these puppies out on your table and you’re practically a modern day Peggy Guggenheim. So maybe not quite, but it is a start.
First I guess I should address that ‘book’ is probably, possibly, and quite positively a fairly broad term. To clarify, unfortunately, for this purpose it does not make you an art collector to have five Stephen King books all partially full of sand on your bedside table (but side note: great job, keep it up). What I mean by ‘books’ in this instance are those that showcase the work of an artist, with more emphasis on those produced by the artists themselves or by a smaller publishing press. Very regularly those will present themselves in a zine-like format, or will just be 100% authentic zine.
These are cheap and allow you to get a feel for an artist, or even just the idea of spending money on art. Buying these means you are directly supporting the artist, which will allow them to make more art you like. What a concept!
Art Metropole is a great option for buying art books and zines. They are a not-for-profit and focus on artist-initiated projects. A few of so many good, local publishing presses to check out: Perish Publishing, JMS Press, Swimmers Group, or Colour Code, to name a few. Instead you could head to events like the upcoming Toronto Art Book Fair (TOABF) June 16th – 19th 2016.
So you’ve done the book thing already and are ready to kick things up a notch. Take the plunge, if you will…
VISIT SOME SMALLER GALLERIES / COLLECTIVES (MORE THAN ONCE)
By small I don’t mean the fewer people you can cram in the better, but just less established in a sense. Maybe it goes without saying that these galleries or collectives, which are often operated by young people with little money themselves, are going to be carrying less expensive art and primarily showcase up-and-coming locally based artists.
And please, go again and again! You’re likely not going to be able to amble in on the first go and find something you like within your price range. Unless of course you’re the Milhouse in flood pants during a flood of this scenario and are simply in the right place at the right time.
With that said, as a general rule on an overdraft-protection budget a good first step is with photography or a medium that is issued in multiples. Opt for it to be unframed if possible. Largely framing done proper is an amenity that costs some number broke people don’t even like to hear exists. Maybe you could try the quaint shop known in folklore as Ikea? If that fails, you could try removing the Godfather poster you bought at the illustrious university poster show from it’s lodgings and put your art in there. And then, when you win the lottery you can afford to have it framed proper. Great you’re off to a start.
Though, of course other options than prints are available! For paintings usually those done in acrylic are going to hurt the bank less than oil, but it varies. Alternatively check out that sculptural work you so crave for your cavernous bachelor apartment, once again, it really just depends on the work!
“But wait”, you exclaim, “there is no price listed”! So it turns out inquiring does not, in fact, contractually bind you or your first-born to this piece of art, so just ask. If you’re fake shy like me and don’t like doing this in person just be glad we’re living in the future as e-mail has long since been established, and most galleries have one.
Find some extra dollars in the couch and are ready for more?
LOOK INTO AN ARTISTS EARLIER WORKS
When galleries become more established they naturally begin to develop a roster of represented artists. These artists are in varying places in their career but generally aren’t just starting out. Regardless, if there’s something you like on the wall or floor today that’s well outside the price range there’s a chance there’s something the artist made in the past, that has yet to sell that might be closer to your budget! Gallery websites sometimes can give you a better idea of what an artists made in the past, so usually you’ll be able to find a summary of their completed works – generally sans price, but still there for the viewing.
Okay so that’s a start. What’s key is that sometimes people don’t think buying this art counts as collecting, but the thing is, it does. Whether the artist goes on to have a successful career or not it will be a part of your to-be collection. Because unless you have an unlikely (but not impossible!!) Freaky Friday experience, you really aren’t going to wake up with a collection over night. These things quite literally take a lifecycle, so just relax, you’ll be fine, and eventually you’ll have plenty of gallery gift-shop scarves just like your aunt.