Contrary to popular belief, you needn't be a multi-millionaire or a gallery owner to start your own art collection. Far from it, in fact. All it takes is a passion for the work, an open mind, and a little clear space on the walls to hang up what you like. Tze Chun, founder of the innovative online art gallery Uprise Art, was kind enough to share some tips that anyone can use to begin their own collection. Who knows? That friend who did the pencil sketches you always loved might just be the next Vincent van Picasso.
TEN TIPS FOR COLLECTING ART IN STYLE ... AND ON A BUDGET
By Tze Chun
1. Clean out your closet.
If you're still living with your posters from college, or tapestries tacked to the wall, it's time for a change. Finding original artwork for your home adds character and polish, and means you’re supporting living artists. But, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch it all. You can incorporate old favorites (personal photos, momentos, record covers) into the mix by framing and hanging them properly.
2. 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. Browse art websites such as Artsy to get familiar with what is out there. At Uprise Art, we curate tailored sets of artwork for collectors free of charge, and help find artwork for specific spaces and coordinate install.
3. 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 shoes. There is only one of that artwork that exists, and once it's sold, you're out of luck. I always advise collectors to sleep on it, but that if they keep thinking about a piece of art, that's when they know it's the right one. So often people do the work and find art they love, but then get sticker shock and lose out.
4. Try something new on for size.
Your artwork should be a reflection of your personal style, interests and aesthetic. At the same time, collecting art is a great way to shake things up a bit and look at the world, and perhaps yourself, differently. You wouldn't let a stranger into your home, so similarly you should feel comfortable living with the artwork you collect.
5. Meet your match.
I always say that being a gallerist is like being a matchmaker, and that finding the right artwork for yourself is a lot like dating. I help collectors get to know the artwork and learn about its history and substance. There is a lot of good and bad art out there, so don't settle, but when you do love fall in love, make it yours.
6. It's all in the details.
Look at pieces closely and give yourself time to notice different aspects of the artwork. Details, such as the texture of a painting or the lighting in a photograph, are like a nice lining in your trousers - even if other people don't notice it, it makes you happy knowing it's there.
7. Learn the lingo.
Don't know what 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. We field questions on a daily basis about everything from what an artist’s hobbies are, to how limited editioned prints are priced and how sculptures should be installed. The more you learn about the artist, the artwork’s story, and how it’s made, the more you can connect with the work. Learning about your artwork means you have cool facts to tell your friends, too.
8. Button it up.
Custom framing is a must for photographs and works on paper to ensure your art is preserved and protected. We frame all artwork with UV-filtering plexiglass, archival matboard, and spacers so the artwork doesn’t touch the glass. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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. Art will always be a great investment because of the value it provides you everyday, improving your space and providing daily inspiration. Also, by collecting you're investing in the success of an artist by supporting their practice. Collecting art means doing good and living well, all while looking good.
Tze Chun is the founder of Uprise Art, an online gallery for the next generation of art collectors. Tze graduated from Columbia University and has delivered talks on art and entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Affordable Art Fair, the Apple Store, Cooley LLP, and Deloitte, among others. Tze is also a curator for Quarterly.co, and a partner in the Brooklyn restaurants Dover and Battersby. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @tzechengchun and @uprisenyc.