How to

Expert advice for starting an art collection

Would you love to splurge on one amazing artwork, or even start collecting? We ask the experts how to choose art, and point you to some cool curated collections and websites to get you started

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How to collect art

Finding a starting point and determining what is right for your home is the first step to building an art collection. First, consider the purpose the art will be fulfilling. For most, art is purely an aesthetic and emotional choice, rather than an investment decision, so determining what is right for your home, and your budget, is crucial, rather than merely following trends.

Larger feature pieces work well in living and dining areas, where colour and size make the most impact, but consider smaller grouped pieces for hallways, bedrooms and offices. Scale, colour and composition are important factors, and tying these into your existing decor is the key.

Building an art collection doesn’t require a small fortune, and taking the time to discover artists and styles that you enjoy is all part of the pleasure. If you look for individual pieces that complement your existing collection and harmonise with your decor, you will ultimately create a consistent collection that will bring you great joy.

Jenny Hutchings from Mapura Studios in Auckland suggests breaking down old hierarchies when it comes to art collecting. “Serious, collectable art can be found in all media and visual disciplines, including traditional arts, jewellery, ceramics and textiles.”

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Expert Q&A with Elliot Alexander from EndemicWorld

How is purchasing art for investment different from purchasing for enjoyment? Are the two mutually exclusive?

If you’re buying to invest, it’s no different from any other investment. You need to work out your appetite for risk and work with a consultant or dealer to help you build a collection. You review it often and buy/sell to make sure you’re meeting your investment goals.

If you’re collecting for enjoyment, then buy what you like. It doesn’t matter what’s on trend, the only rule is that there is no rule. What you hang on your walls is an extension of your own style. Best to hang what you like because you’ll be the one having to look at it all the time.

As for the two approaches being mutually exclusive: there are a few people I know who have collected for years and done very well investment-wise, although they never planned on it. They simply bought loads of art they really loved and now have very valuable collections. The catch is, they love it all so much, they wouldn’t dream of selling any of it. This, in my eyes, is the true collector. Their taste changes, their style grows, their eye matures, and as a result they end up with an amazing collection of art that nobody else has.

Where are the best local places to look for work by emerging artists?

Don’t let the big empty spaces at galleries scare you! Get out there and visit your locals. I’ll do a gallery day once a month at least. It’s fun, free and you get to see, touch, smell the art in the real. The best thing is you get to speak to someone who knows about the art and the artist; you hear the stories behind the work you’re looking at. Sometimes a gallery is the only way to access an artist’s work due to exclusive dealership agreements, so getting on their email list is a good start, then you can just visit when they have work you are interested in.

Markets are great for affordable art prints, you can see a lot in one place and you also get to speak directly with the artist. Art functions are becoming more accessible to the everyday buyer; the recent Auckland Art Fair was amazing and a local favourite is Art Ache held at Ponsonby’s Golden Dawn bar. There are some great collectives putting on some seriously good exhibitions, and final-year student shows are also good (the work is not often for sale, but grab a card and most will be delighted to sell once they’ve graduated).

Exhibitions and markets

Collection websites to browse

Words by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Prue Ruscoe, Maree Homer/bauersyndication.com.au.

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