There are no rules when it comes to curating a personal art collection, which is precisely why building one from the ground up can seem like an impossible feat. In truth, it's more simple than you'd expect.
In addition to not knowing where to start, collecting art may seem like an expensive hobby. Sure, an original Andy Warhol painting can cost you more than 100 million dollars but purchasing work from an up-and-coming artist or a print from the Internet isn’t going to put such a dent in your life savings. Luckily for us, we live in the age of DIY, so who’s to say your collection can’t include some homemade creations?
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According to Clarissa Hulsey Bailey who is the Director of Designer Relations at Twyla, these five tips can help you build a personal art collection whether your budget is $24 or $2,400.
1. Trust your instincts
Have you ever tried on a dress in the store, fallen in love with it, and then talked yourself out of it? The same can happen with a piece of art, but according to Bailey, “Your gut reaction to a piece of art is telling.” If you liked it right off the bat, it’s likely you’ll still appreciate it in your own home. “Choose a piece that you are drawn to immediately and that brings you happiness every time you see it,” she said.
Consider it a bonus if you find out a piece doesn't have a hefty price tag after you’ve convinced yourself that you have to have it. Your art collection should embody your beliefs and interests. If a $24 print from Rifle Paper Co. gets the job done for you, don’t let its inexpensive nature deter you. “Don’t collect art for the investment value,” Bailey warned. Instead, stock your collection with pieces of sentimental value. If a piece of artwork means something to you, that's what makes it invaluable.
2. Don't be shy
"Art" is literally defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, which means that no two art pieces should be exactly alike. Curate your collection with artwork you appreciate and enjoy, but don’t be afraid to be a little different from everyone else. Bailey advised that you shouldn’t be hesitant to select a bold piece but if you are, “Interior designers are in on the secret that great art can transform a room."
Developing a collection can be a learning experience if you aren’t an art expert, but enlisting the help of a decorator or a site like Twyla can be a great place to start. “I love working at Twyla because we make it so easy to find unique, beautiful contemporary works at accessible prices,” Bailey said. The website offers free art advising and design consultations in addition to its wide variety of artwork at price points below $500, above $2,000, and everywhere in between.
3. Do some research
Do your homework before purchasing a piece of art. “The more you know about an artist and their background, the more connected you’ll feel to the art,” said Bailey. Consider purchasing art from someone whose interests and values align with yours. For example, if you’re passionate about the environment try searching for sustainable artists who use natural or recycled materials.
Before purchasing a piece of artwork from an already reputable artist, look into local up-and-coming artists or think about giving back to your community by buying artwork at charity auctions. David Rockefeller’s family is selling his art collection in a series of auctions this year, and according to Vanity Fair, proceeds from the sale will go to a dozen nonprofit organizations. Why not pick up a painting?
4. Keep an open mind
Unsure if it’s OK to mix and match different styles of art in one place? Hoping to be economical by displaying pricier artwork next to inexpensive prints? Don't sweat it. “There is no one right way to build and art collection, so get creative when it comes to sourcing your artwork," Bailey said. “For example, mix and match that piece you picked up on vacation in Peru with a family portrait handed down through generations."
You could also consider collecting artwork from different mediums. Place a unique sculpture on a table and create a low-cost gallery wall behind it using prints from sites like West Elm and Red Bubble or even a collage of photographs you took yourself.
5. Presentation is key
If there’s one rule to building your own art collection, it’s not to overlook the importance of choosing a frame. “Framing your work not only protects it from wear and tear but also gives it a refined touch," Bailey said. "The right frame can really make the art pop, so make sure to explore different finishes and textures.” Purchasing a frame from a gallery and even some websites can put a dent in your wallet but that, my friends, is what Michaels and Amazon are for.
Michaels sells every type of frame you could ever need, from wall and poster frames, to shadow boxes and collage frames. Amazon offers up even more options—the only downside being you can’t see an Amazon frame in person before purchasing it. If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream, antique shops and yard sales are prime locations for unique frames. Consider purchasing a used frame from a yard sale, sanding it, and painting it for an extra pop of color or a one-of-a-kind compliment to your budding art collection.
Finally, Bailey emphasizes the importance of arranging your artwork in an aesthetically pleasing manner. “Placement on the wall is key,” she said. “Art is best displayed 60 inches from the floor to the center of the piece.”