A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Art

By: Ray Figlewski, Silk Road Art Gallery


Collecting art is a unique and invigorating process not reserved simply for the super-rich. Starting a collection is actually much easier than many expect, and comes down to one’s own personal taste and passions. While buying a Picasso or a Pollack may be advantageous for a novice, the idea of collecting goes further than big names. Collecting art should be about supporting work that speaks to you on a personal level, and supporting the creative process by promoting the artist with a purchase. Fine art can also bolster a financial portfolio, with international art sales breaking records last year at $66 billion.Here are three art collecting tips to get any individual on the path to a great collection.

  1. Know the market.
    Whether you are buying a car, a sofa, or a television set, being an informed consumer is vital to a successful purchase. Art is no different. A novice collector should do his or her homework before going to galleries or museums. Studying art history and artistic techniques and styles will nurture the development of opinions on quality and the uniqueness of works. Knowing an artist’s training, previous price points, and future goals/exhibits also allows buyers to make educated decisions on whether or not the pieces have the opportunity to grow as an investment. All of this information can be found in art magazines, art history books and the galleries in which the artwork is showcased.

    Liu Wenxi is a renowned central Chinese brush painter, long represented by the Silk Road Art Gallery’s owner, Liwen Ma.

  1. Develop your own tastes.
    Art is defined as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings” (Merriam-Webster). It is important, then, that a collector shares and supports the ideas and feelings being displayed by the artwork. Yes, art is an investment and has the potential to reap high financial gains; but it should be an emotional experience as well. If you are true to your own personal aesthetic, your collection will have a better flow and cohesion. This flow will not only sharpen your collecting sensibilities; it will also increase the value of the collection as a whole by allowing it to be displayed as a single unit. For example, the Kinsey Collection, created by Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, has a deep connection to African American art. The collection grew within that theme, incorporating sculptures, figurative painting, and abstract work by African American artists. The result is a collection spanning 400 years; on a national tour since 2007, the collection has already seen over 3 million visitors.
  1. Get Involved.The final tip is the most essential: Get involved in the art community. Go to gallery events, museum openings, and art fairs. The more you are exposed to art, the more you will grow to understand and appreciate the variety of mediums and quality of work. Become acclimated to local artists and gallery owners; pick their brains about up-and-coming artists or new events. This familiarity will not only create necessary connections with art dealers and artists, but will also give collectors the opportunity to share experiences and enthusiasm for the creative process.

Art collecting can be a life changing endeavor, opening worlds and opportunities to people who never would have considered themselves artistic. Feel free to contact us at the Silk Road Art Gallery with any questions on collecting or recommendations on which American or Chinese artists you may want to start collecting.