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guide for art buyers


Starting an Art Collection
Lisa Cooper, Gallery Owner
Many years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to start to fill our home with art.  Art that we loved to live with.  Art that we both had to love!  And it all started on our third wedding anniversary. We decided we would buy a new piece of art every year…on our anniversary.
But the process was intimidating.  So, we started by going to art fairs.  Our first was the Affordable Art Fair.  And there we bought our first piece.
Over the years, we’ve added more artwork to our home, met the artists who we purchased, and became collectors of a number of different galleries.  As I look around our home, I see the work we’ve collected over the years from paintings, works on paper, glass sculpture and photography.  And every day I see something new and surprising.
Today, I am an art dealer and own a gallery.  And I only represent work that I love and artwork that I would want to live with.  My criteria are that the artwork has to make me feel something when I stand in front it.  That feeling can be joyful, curious, uncomfortable or sad.  But it must make me feel something.
I believe that art has that amazing ability to transport us to another place or another space without ever leaving our home.  So when I evaluate art, I take into consideration “where it sends me.”
When I work with collectors today, especially new collectors, here’s some advice that I share:
  • First and Foremost…buy artwork you love.  While some art may have a strong investment value over time, if you buy what you love you will always be gratified.
  • Check out the Art Fairs – they are a great way to see a number of different galleries, different artists, genres and styles in one location. 
  • There are art fair periods within many major metropolitan areas.  Here are just a few:
    • January – Los Angeles
    • March – New York
    • May – Chicago, Hong Kong
    • June – Basel
    • July – Sante Fe
    • October – Toronto
    • November - Boston
    • December – Miami
  • Different Fairs have different criteria or selection of galleries, so be sure to look at a range of shows.  A few shows to put on your list are:
    • Affordable Art Fair – All artwork is under $10,000 with 75% under $5,000
    • Pulse
    • IFPDA – International Fine Art Print
    • SOFA – Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art
    • Outsider Art
    • AIPAD - Photography
  • Find out about Open Studio visits – this is when a group of artists or an artists community hosts special weekends when the artists studios are open to the public.  It’s a great chance to meet the artists and see a range of work.  Frequently there are printed or online maps to guide you along the way.  Use these to make notes of the artists you like.
    • In and around New York, there is TOAST in Tribeca, High Line Open Studios in Chelsea, YOHO in Yonkers, Dumbo Arts Festival in Brooklyn and many others.
  • Read key publications, websites and blogs.  Be sure to subscribe to the ones you like.  Some of my favorites are:Visit galleries in your home city or even on vacation or business trips.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many cities may also offer Gallery walks.  Check out meetup.com to see if there are groups in your local area.  Also join the gallery mailing list.  This way you’ll be looped in on upcoming exhibits and events.Consider working with an art consultant.  They will have access to artwork inventory from both artists and galleries that you may not be aware of.
    1. Art News
    2. Art & Auction
    3. Art in America
    4. Art Knowledge News (daily email with highlights)
    5. The Art Newspaper newsletter (weekly email)
    6. Artinfo.com
    7. Artslant.com
    8. Artlog.com
  • Think about your budget.  You may want to start with smaller works or works on paper or emerging artists. 
I hope this helps as you begin your wonderful art collection journey!

Elisa Contemporary Art
5622 Mosholu Avenue, Riverdale NY