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Art Art Collecting Art Investment Culture Artists Artist Art World

If you’re like many art lovers new to the world of collecting, then chances are that the art market seems complicated and confusing to you in many ways. You know that you enjoy looking at art, but it’s still often very difficult to determine what you should actually be looking for when it comes to making a purchase of your own, especially when one man’s idea of what makes a great piece can differ so wildly from another’s. Art not only represents a financial investment, but an emotional one as well, so naturally you want to be sure you’re making the right choice. Accomplishing just that starts with making sure you consider several key factors before you sign on the dotted line.

Do You Truly Love the Artwork?

If you’re only looking to buy art because it’s what your friends or family do, or because you’re hoping your collection will turn out to be worth a fortune at some point down the line, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. The art market can be unpredictable in many ways, so the fact that a particular artist is hot today is not necessarily a guarantee that their work will be worth millions in 10 or even 50 years. Even very carefully considered purchases in regards to the money factor sometimes turn out not to be as valuable as the buyer would have hoped.

A better way to assess value in a piece of art would be to consider how it makes you feel on a deeper emotional and intellectual level. Does it make you think or evoke a memory of something pleasant? Is it something that will fit into your preference of decor and be a pleasure to see day in and day out? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you’re likely to be unhappy with your purchase no matter how trendy it is or how much it may turn out to be worth.

Art gets a lot of buzz as a commodity that can be very valuable, but it has so much more to offer than that. If part of your wish to become an art collector doesn’t actually revolve around a sincere appreciation for art, then it would probably be better and safer to invest in something else.

Know Your Artists

It’s always a good idea to start by making sure you really make sure you know your stuff when it comes to which artists are the most worthwhile. The best art does not necessarily come from the best known artists, hang in the most prestigious art galleries, or cost an arm and a leg.

The art world always has its share of up-and-coming but lesser known talent, so it’s important not to forget about newer or more obscure artists when it comes to assessing the market as a whole and making a purchase decision. Many of these unknowns simply just haven’t been discovered, or haven’t managed to establish themselves in the market yet. However, the ones with the brightest futures and the most talent will most likely be attracting at least some attention anyway. Look for articles or reviews that have been written about the person’s work, or search for more information on their history as far as small gallery showings or features.

It’s important to make it a point to not only know the established artists and their work, but the promising unknowns as well because you never know who will be the next big thing. In many cases, investing in a newer artist who is just starting to generate a buzz is a great way to score a unique piece of art that you not only love, but that also stands a good chance of increasing in value someday as well.

Know Your Artist’s Individual Pieces

The decision-making process doesn’t stop once you finally decide which of the many artists out there working today you’d most like to invest in. You still need to decide which of their pieces is right for your collection. Get to know their work as a whole, as well as their overall underlying message.

Pinpoint the pieces that speak to you the most strongly and that you feel would fit the most comfortably into your life. Then examine how they stack up to the rest of the artist’s body of work. All artists tend to have pivotal pieces that are important because of where they fall in the overall timeline of their evolution as an artist, or because they are something of a departure for the artist. You might also look for pieces that are especially unique or thought-provoking in other ways. These often tend to make the best choices from an investment standpoint.

A basic understanding of fine art analysis can be helpful here, but the importance of your own gut instinct shouldn’t be overlooked either. It’s most important to form a collection of pieces that speak strongly to you or that you identify with on a deeper personal level. After all, at its core, that’s really what art is all about.

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