A Beginner's Guide To Art Collecting

Building a solid art collection takes time and knowledge, whether you’re wanting to buy art for
decoration, as an investment, or because you have a love and enthusiasm for the arts.
Here are our tips on what, why, and how to collect art for the novice collector.

The art world

The art world may appear overwhelming and difficult to navigate at first glance, but we want to assure you that it is everything but. The art world is a fascinating place to visit, with a wide range of artists to discover and learn more about. All it takes is an open mind and a little curiosity to buy your first significant work of art or simply to improve your experience at a fair or gallery opening. Continue reading to learn how to curate an art collection you’ll love and be proud of.


Why Collect?

There is a slew of compelling reasons to begin an art collection. Individuals may begin collecting as a sort of investment, as a method of acquiring a valuable piece of history, or as a means of supporting the arts — the list is endless. Collecting art is a highly personal experience, but it’s also a terrific way to show off different sides of your personality and make a statement about who you are.


Who Can Collect?

Here at WestHeir, the gatekeepers have been relieved of their duties. They are no longer required because art collecting is no longer limited to the wealthy and famous. Everyone who enjoys art can participate in art collecting. Even if you acquire it for personal enjoyment rather than financial gain, your collection, if well-kept and documented, may one day become an important record of artistic history.


Set A Budget

Before you start looking, art collectors should first set a budget. This budget will help you determine what and where you can purchase art. Begin with a small budget and gradually increase it as your collection, confidence, and knowledge of art expand. A budget of $1,000 or less could be a good place to start, depending on your salary and buying habits. A good rule to follow is to prioritize quality above quantity. 


Setting a budget and sticking to it is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to discard an artwork because it isn’t priced at what you think to be a fair price for fine art. Whether the artwork is $50 or $500, if you truly enjoy it, you should add it to your collection. A large price tag does not always indicate that the artwork is of higher quality, but it is often an indicator that it was made with higher quality materials. Do your due diligence and buy art that will stand the test of time. 


Set Goals

Everyone has their own reasons for creating artwork. Your goals will have a significant impact on the kind of collections you create. So, what are your goals? Among the most prevalent reasons for collecting art are:

Goal: Joy

Buying what brings you joy, regardless of whether it is trendy or not. This is an excellent strategy because you will have to live with the art you buy.


Goal: Aesthetic

Many people begin collecting for aesthetic reasons, but what happens when their collections outgrow their rooms? Collectors must consider logistics, installation, insurance, storage, and conservation of their artwork as their collections get larger.


Goal: Investing

While this is a well-considered viewpoint, potential buyers should be aware that there are no assurances when it comes to investing in art. If you’re looking for a return on your art investment, you’ll have to look at mid-career or established artists, which implies more expensive works.


Goal: Time-Capsule

Consider the unique time and place you were born into, and what kind of artwork you have available to you in that place. Do you want to preserve your own time and place, or are you interested in preserving that of a previous era? Collections can be hyper-local or reflect the current situation of the world. The concept of conserving a time-capsule of artwork as your collection is an important idea here.  


Goal: Support

Loving an artist, their story, message, or art is a wonderful reason to create a collection of their work. 



While we strongly advise taking an art history course, the most crucial aspect of your research is exposure. Exposure to a wide range of art forms will help you build an encyclopedic understanding of the various types of art available. New collectors can start by visiting galleries and museums, as well as connecting with artists. New trends can also be discovered by visiting artist-created social media channels, such as Instagram or Pinterest, as well as artist-created websites and virtual galleries. 


Don’t be afraid to try works that you didn’t think you’d like. When you’re exposed to a wide range of art, you start to notice patterns, and you learn what makes you react to specific types of art. As you see more art, you’ll begin to notice the distinctions in the techniques, mediums, and styles used by different artists. Above all, you’ll teach your mind and eyes to detect and appreciate the kind of art that you are looking for.


Find Art & Artists

Art Fairs & Exhibitions

There are numerous locations where you can discover and purchase art that you enjoy. Attending art fairs, attending show openings, and visiting galleries are more traditional methods. These are fantastic resources for locating artists and artwork to add to your collection. Do not be hesitant to ask questions, establish connections, and read biographies of artists. Speaking with other like-minded collectors at these events is the best way to get insider information.




The fact that most artists have relocated online is one good thing that came out of 2020. As galleries closed and everyone was trapped indoors, virtual galleries, the internet, and social media surged for artists. This is ideal for collectors who are limited by location or simply wish to learn more about different artists. Buying art online is a particularly efficient and cost-effective alternative for new art collectors, thanks to straightforward pricing, simple access to a large variety of artworks, and the ability to compare artists, galleries, and prices from the comfort of your own home. No more requesting price lists from a variety of galleries and studios with limited stock. You can take your time looking through artwork from across the world, purchase your favorite original art, and have it delivered right to your home. 


What Should I Look for?


If original paintings are your chosen medium, there are a few ways to get museum-quality artwork at a fraction of the cost. While paintings by mid-career to established and famous painters might be expensive, investing in their lesser works is a more cost-effective approach to acquire new art. You receive the artists’ spirit for a less daunting price.


If you’re ready to look into young and lesser-known painters, you can still add amazing unique paintings to your art collection. When you buy from these under-the-radar artists, you’ll be one of their first collectors, helping them launch their careers. Unique pieces, rather than duplicated prints, will hang on your walls, and you’ll be able to talk about your knowledge of and support for rising artists.


So, how do you go about finding a promising new or developing artist? Begin with their portfolio, looking for solo shows or stints at art residencies, participation in group exhibitions, newspaper coverage, and involvement in fascinating and dynamic groups. Follow them on social media to see how their following react to their work. Remember that when it comes to building an art collection, it’s more important to trust your instincts than to listen to others. If an emerging artist’s work appeals to you and is within your budget, purchase it.

Limited Edition Prints & Numbered Photography

Paintings, for example, are one-of-a-kind and hence can be costly. Multiples of photography and limited editions are more often produced, making them more affordable. Limited editions are also less expensive to ship since they can be rolled. If you prefer a certain artist or a well-known artist but their works are out of your price range, look into their limited editions, which will likely be less expensive but still valuable, especially if signed by the artist. Prints are a fantastic way to start your art collection.

Sculptures & Odd Objects

When it comes to building an art collection, most buyers go for framed canvases as their first works, overlooking sculptures and design objects in the process. These three-dimensional works of art, on the other hand, are amazing additions to a collection and make excellent display pieces in the house. Small-scale sculptures and design objects are worth consideration because they are usually priced to sell. Well-made pieces signed by the artist can be a significant addition to your collection, adding variety as well as an eclectic flair.


Tips & Tricks

Keep Certificates of Authenticity

The Certificate of Authenticity is required when purchasing a work of art to confirm that it is genuine. When you need to insure the work, the document will come in handy. Plus, you never know when your art collection may expand to the point where you will need to donate or sell pieces. The loss of the certifications could result in significant problems in the future. This is why we advise art collectors to maintain crucial documentation for their collections in a secure location.

Quality Is King

When you get into buying art, it may become pretty addictive. However, it is best not to become overly enthusiastic. Take your time between purchases; you may discover that something you purchased six months ago is no longer to your liking. Also, keep in mind that, even if you truly adore a work, it is always preferable to purchase one that is in good shape rather than one that needs to be restored, as the expense of restoring work in poor condition can be enormous.

If you decide to buy a fine art print for your collection, make sure it’s produced on fine art paper for longevity and colorfastness. If it’s framed, make sure it’s made of acid-free materials and properly sealed with breathable material so your lovely print doesn’t get damaged.

Investing & Artwork

It’s tempting to follow in the footsteps of other collectors who buy young new artists’ work and then resell them for a profit. However, we highly advise against buying art just for the purpose of investment. You must like the artwork, be willing to live with it and have faith in the artist’s future. If you’re new to collecting, it’s best to start with something more conservative and acquire the tried-and-true favorites.

Taking Care Of Your Collection

If you’ve already begun your art collection or have already purchased your first piece, congratulations! However, it is critical to ensure that your new work is properly stored to maintain its lifetime. The person who sold you the work, which could be the artist or the gallery, is the ideal person to question.


If the piece is a little older, you might also see a conservator who specializes in that media, as they will be able to advise you on how to restore it and keep it in good shape. Always utilize correct framing: works on paper should not be exposed to direct sunlight, UV-protective plexiglass should be used whenever possible, and works should be mounted on acid-free paper.

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