A Guide to Collecting Art: Quick Tips & Where to Look

A Guide to Collecting Art: Quick Tips & Where to Look

Posted by Rebecca Gordan on 12th Apr 2018

Collecting contemporary art for your own home is on the rise, and Rise Art’s curator Rebecca Gordon is here to help you make your choices with tips on how to get hold of your favourite pieces.


1. The secret to buying art is there is no secret

If you see a piece of art that you absolutely love and you want to buy it, then buy it. You don't need special credentials or a degree in Art History to start a collection; you just need the desire to collect and the means to do it.

2. Be prepared and informed

You can help yourself by being prepared and informed. Do some research: visit galleries and museums, read reviews, and train your eye. Know your taste and budget, and take your time– but not too much time! The wonderful thing about art is that much of it is one of a kind. Excluding prints and multiples, an artwork is a unique object – so if you hesitate for too long you may miss out on something you love.

3. Buying as an Investment

Whether one should buy art for art’s sake or as an investment is consistently a big question. The good news is that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The first rule of thumb is to buy what you like, because you will be living with this work - it should intrigue, excite, challenge, and uplift you. And if, in addition, you are interested in collecting up-and-coming artists whose work might appreciate, familiarise yourself with their résumés and background and also what they have planned for the future - solo or group exhibitions, residencies, fellowships, and the like.

4. Negotiate 

In many cases, the price of an artwork is negotiable. Do your research and don’t be afraid to raise the topic of a better price.

5. Know the Factors that Affect the Price of Art

Primary vs. secondary market: Pieces bought on the primary market (i.e. you're the first owner) tend to be less expensive than those bought on the secondary market (i.e. previously owned works being sold privately, through a gallery or at auction). 

Rarity: Is the piece one of a kind, or one of an edition of 100?

Medium: In most cases a work on canvas is more valuable than one on paper - however this is not an absolute, rather it is contingent on the artist and the market for their work.


Traditional Galleries: The best way to train your eye – and it’s free! Take as many opportunities as you can to visit commercial galleries and see what is new and on view.

Art Fairs: Art fairs are a great hunting ground. Within them you are provided with a huge selection of curated artworks, all under one roof.

Graduation Degree Shows: Some of the most exciting locales to view contemporary art are at art school graduation exhibitions. Prices are reasonable, there is often an exceptional range of works on view, and you often get to meet the artist whilst looking at the work. However, please bear in mind that this is early stage work; the artist may change their style radically as he/she develops. That being said, we still love the adventure of it all.

Auctions: Familiarising yourself with the auction house’s buyer’s commission is essential. Auction house pre-sale exhibitions are exceptional displays of art – and they’re free to the public! We think they are a wonderful way to train your eye, so plan a walk through the galleries each auction season and relish the visual feasts on offer.

Online Galleries: An exceptional selection of artwork is available in one place where you can search with the aid of specialised filters from the comfort of your home. It's not intimidating and there are often try-before-you-buy and rental options. Online galleries are often curated by Insider Committees.

By Rebecca Gordon 

Feeling inspired?

Visit the Rise Art website here for more tips on choosing and collecting contemporary art.