So You Want to Start an Art Collection...

A novice's guide to buying pretty pictures, in nine steps

By The Editors

Collect Art Like a Pro
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06 January 2016

First things first:

You don’t have to be a billionaire.

You don’t have to hang with the Pratt alumni crowd. You don’t have to go to Art Basel or even know where Basel is. You don’t have to speak French, smoke cigarettes or know Monet from Manet.

Walking down a street in SoHo a few years back, I passed Clic gallery and a picture in the window caught my eye. Me and this picture, we had a moment. So I bought it. Voila! Art collector.

You can be too. All you need is an open mind and a few empty walls to work with. To assist beyond that, we hit up Tze Chun, founder of online art collective Uprise Art. Here’s what she told us, in nine simple steps.

Clean out your closet

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch everything. You can incorporate old favorites (personal photos, mementos, record covers) into the mix by framing and hanging them properly.

Roll up your sleeves

Finding art isn't difficult, but it does require some work. Decide on a budget, identify the spaces in your home that need artwork, and then set aside time to look at art. If you don't have time to make it out to the galleries, start your search online. Browsing websites like Uprise and Artsy will help one get familiar with the landscape.

Don't wait for it to go on sale

Collecting original art is completely different from buying a car or picking up a new pair of horsehair loafers. There is only one of that artwork that exists, and once it's sold, you're out of luck.

Try something new on

Your artwork is a reflection of your personal style, interests and aesthetic. But collecting art is also a great way to look at the world, and perhaps yourself, differently. You should feel comfortable living with the artwork you collect, but don’t be afraid to take some risks.

Meet your match

Being a gallerist is like being a matchmaker, and finding the right artwork is a lot like dating. I help collectors get to know the artwork and learn about its history and substance.

Learn the lingo

Don't know the difference between a litho and an edition? Not sure what an archival pigment print is? Ask questions and know what you’re buying. Art galleries and “gallerinas” can be intimidating, and that’s why I started Uprise Art, to make the process of collecting easier and more enjoyable.

Button it up

Custom framing is a must for photographs and works on paper to ensure your art is preserved and protected. A good frame not only keeps your art in pristine condition, but also enhances the work and makes it look even better. It’s like a scruffy guy in a crisp shirt: art cleans up well in a frame.

Dry clean only

Once you've properly framed your artwork, get it on the wall. Avoid locations that are damp or receive direct sunlight for several hours, as those conditions can damage the art. Artwork, including unframed paintings, can be cleaned with a feather duster.

Keep it timeless

Collectors often ask me about which artists are hot right now or which trends are a good investment. The goal is to build a collection over time that you can grow with, so choose artwork that speaks to you rather than what’s popular at the moment.

Images courtesy of Uprise Art artists Anthony Cudahy, Dana Bell, Jen Wink, and Charlie Engman 

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