Creating a personal art collection

When some people hear “art collection” they think of Picasso, Emily Carr, Degas, or maybe a huge pink sculpture of a balloon animal. But an art collection can be whatever you want it to be. You CAN spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it, but you certainly don’t have to. My uncle’s favourite art piece is an owl done by my cousin, aged five, and he has over the years had many offers from people who wanted to buy it. If a piece speaks to you, if you like it, there is no limit to what can be considered art.

A piece of children’s art can be beautiful.

2 types of art collections

  1. A Legacy Collection has pieces that define the art of the period. These pieces will appreciate in value both individually and as a collective whole. These works are collected for importance as well as aesthetic value.
  2. A Personal Collection has pieces that speak to the collector personally and complement their home and life, regardless of the status of the artist. Such collections can become legacy collections over time, but the intention is personal appreciation, not the collection itself.

Getting Started

The first step is a combination budget and scope.  If your intention is to buy art for every room in your home at one time, you will need to have a larger initial budget.  If your intention is to collect over a period of time, then having a monthly amount put aside to go towards art when you find it is a great way to ensure the piece you fall in love with is within your grasp.

Considerations for scope include both artist recognition and type of art. The type of art can include originals, limited edition prints, prints, multimedia, sculpture. Artists can be classified as:

  • Amateur–no professional training
  • Emerging–new to the professional world
  • Mid-Career–shown in galleries and published widely
  • Established–recognized internationally and considered to have made a lasting contribution to the art world

The second step is to find the sort of art you want. If your goal is a legacy collection, you’ll want to consider the art world at a national and international scale. One way to being is by researching the national art scene.

If you want to start by building a personal collection, look to your community to see what is happening in your local art world. Visit some galleries, especially shows, and find out where and when art fairs or art walks are taking place. Even a week or two looking at a wide variety of art can be illuminating.

The third step is purchasing. This will include having pieces framed if they are not already, and transporting, as well as hanging the art or storing it if the space is not yet ready.

For most people building a collection, the second and third step are going to be periodically repeated. How often depends on your budget, interest, and space

How can a designer help?

Creating an art collection is, I believe, a fun and rewarding process. You don’t need a designer’s help know what you like. But depending on your needs and experience, there are some parts of the process where a designer can make things easier. For example, how to find the places to look for the things you like! So, here are a few specific ways that I can help if you are looking to build a collection:

Identifying gaps and placing existing art: By looking at your current art in your space, I can help prioritize art locations and sizes, as well as determine potential gallery wall locations. This can help with placing existing art to the best effect, and also in the planning stages for scope and budget.

The Paula White Diamond Gallery is a great place to find Ontario’s emerging and mid career artists.

Finding art: As a designer, I have relationships with galleries, fairs, art walks and other members of the local arts scene. If you want to start purchasing, but don’t know how to begin, I can tailor your visits to places that are relevant to your wants and needs, and help save time and stress.

Logistics of taking ownership: Once you buy your art, you have to get it home. You might also need it framed. I can assist with framing ideas and providing names of trades people who can transport and hang large or small pieces.

Above all, art should speak to you in some way. Whether it pulls some deep emotional chord, or you just think it’s pretty, loving the art on your walls will ensure that your collection will bring you joy every day.

The feature image for this post is a watercolour by Kitchener-Waterloo artist Ralf Wall.

The Paula White Diamond Gallery is located in the Bauer Marketplace, Kitchener Ontario.

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