Skip to content

Three Tips for The Novice Contemporary Art Buyer

Amy Lincoln. Veranda Sunlight, 2016 36x48
Acrylic on panel
Amy Lincoln. Veranda Sunlight, 2016 36x48 Acrylic on panel

If you have never bought contemporary art I have 3 tips to get you started.

1.) First of all, decide what you are trying to accomplish.

Is it purely a decorative goal for your home, or is there a larger goal at hand?  When I say “larger goal,” I am referring to the question of “can I buy artwork that grows in economic value?” This is often the elephant in the room because people want to buy “nice things” for their walls, but as the price tag goes up, the switch becomes one of economics and intrinsic value switches to extrinsic value. So, if it is about décor, buy what you love under $3,000. If it is about collecting artwork that can be historically important and economically valuable, then let’s move on.

2.) My second tip is to study and put time into this.

You have now become an art collector. All collectors, whether they admit it or not, are interested in the potential value of an object. Having said that, they buy what they love from an informed opinion. This is a function of consuming art, reading about it, getting counsel from professionals and letting their guard down. Yes, I said letting their guard down. This simply means that you need to be open to learning. You can’t build connoisseurship overnight in wine, art or any collectible that has complexity and lots of subjectivity built into the value proposition.

3.) My third tip if you are really into this is to find a competent advisor.

Depending on your financial goals, allocate 5-10% of your net worth to art collecting. Yes, I said up to 10%!  Art is one of the most stable, long-term assets widely held by the richest people in the world and it may be the only asset class that provides intrinsic value (the joy of living with special one of a kind objects) and extrinsic value (the chance to build a very important investment holding over a long period of time.)

Once you have a plan in place around how much to spend and have more clarity on how to determine “quality”, begin to buy work that speaks to your heart and mind.  This is how you build a collection that is a representation of “work that is well done” and “work that is for you”.  No one can tell you what is for you but after you have purchased a bunch of objects you can then look at them and decipher exactly what comprises your natural taste orientation.

Over the last five years, I have traveled the world studying contemporary art with a focus on emerging artists. This is a pure passion for me and I have been blessed with a chance to meet countless inspirational artists that has made a giant difference in how I view the art, art making and the art world.

Michael Berryhill Pigeon, 2016 Oil on linen 24 x 18 inches

Josh Reames, im w stupid, 2016 acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 inches

I am happy to share more about this and help you get started. If you are interested, drop me a line.