How to Start Your Own Contemporary Art Collection

Banksy’s Balloon Girl, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe screenprints, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog, and Yayoi Kusama’s Dot Obsession – these are just some of the wonderful contemporary art from popular artists all over the world. Beyond the burst of colors and sheer creativity of these living artists, their art challenges traditional boundaries through the dynamic fusion of subjects, methods, concepts, and materials. If you are thinking of having your own art collection, contemporary art is definitely something that’s worth investing in. Here’s a practical guide to help you start:


Get to Know the Artist

Getting to know more about the artist will give you a deeper appreciation of their art. You can start by doing an online search about them and read about their life, their inspirations, and how they work. A lot of contemporary artists now have social media accounts, too, so you might want to search for them on Facebook or Instagram as well. Visit their exhibitions, art fairs where galleries bring their work to, and museums that feature the artist in their collection. You can also contact the gallery that represents the artist to inquire where you can see the artist’s work.


Don’t Let Your Budget Limit You

Don’t get too overwhelmed with the idea of starting an art collection. You’ll be surprised to see that there’s a lot of contemporary art out there that can fit your budget. You can begin collecting in a small way. For one, you can explore the creations of local artists. Also, most commercial art galleries allow their clients to spread the payments over time, so an original painting that might be too expensive given your current budget can be paid for over a few years.


Fine Art Buyers Gude - Don’t Let Your Budget Limit You

Browse Art Books for Inspiration

It’s nice to have something tangible to look at and go back to every once in a while. Before you start collecting actual art, it would be good to start collecting books about art first. This will give you a better grasp of what styles are out there and allow you to ponder and realize which ones you feel most drawn to. Plus, these books will also give you a glimpse into the artists – their lives, their inspirations, and the different points of their art journey.


Choose the Art, Not the Artist

Don’t buy a piece of art just because it was created by a popular artist. Have a good look at the artwork and see if this resonates with the artist’s style. Even the most highly esteemed artists have artworks that they themselves are not so fond of, so look closely at the details and see if this is something that is consistent with the rest of their art.

Fine Art Buyers Gude - Choose the Art Not the Artist

Explore Galleries and Art Fairs

Going to exhibitions, opening night previews, and art fairs allows you to get a feel of contemporary art and also get to know the artists who made them. While almost anything can be viewed online, actually going through each artwork in person allows you to have a more tangible experience and realize which ones you like and which ones you don’t. Use this as an opportunity to discover different artists and try not to buy anything on impulse. Instead, take note of the things that caught your attention and do a bit of research about these and their artists when you get home.


Attend Art Auctions

Going to art auctions is another good starting point for new collectors. Here, you are able to get an idea of what the rest of the market is willing to pay for a particular artwork. You can also do your research on past auction history for the artist and artworks coming up through online databases which show the typical value for an artist’s work, as well as the value of similar works which have been sold in previous years. Take note that variables such as size and medium would also influence the price of artworks.


Look for Distinctive Symbols or Motifs

An artist’s creation is not only identified through their signature but also through symbols or motifs that make it instantly distinguishable as one by a particular artist. For instance, Banksy’s graffiti is characterized by striking images, usually prepared using stencils, combined by slogans. One such street art is Follow Your Dreams – Cancelled, which depicts a man holding a brush and bucket standing by a handprinted sign saying, “follow your dreams.” The art is mostly in black and gray, with a red stamp over it reading “canceled”.


Request for Proof of Authenticity

If you’re buying contemporary art by famous artists, such as Warhol and Banksy, you need to be extra careful with your purchase as these are vulnerable to forgeries in the primary market. When buying artworks by popular artists, it is best to ask the art gallery to provide you with a certificate of authenticity (COA). This is a signed document that confirms the artwork’s authenticity. Usually, these certificates are signed by the artist themselves, although there are occasions wherein the COAs are signed by either the representing gallery or the printmaker who collaborated with the artist.


Fine Art Buyers Gude - Request for Proof of Authenticity

If You Love It, Buy It!

When you see a piece of art that you love, don’t overthink and just buy it. That piece of art does not have to match your furniture or have someone else’ approval. If it sparks joy in you, go and get it. Art has a profound effect on our mood, our well-being. And we all have our own unique preferences when it comes to art so, when deciding which one to get for your collection, get that which gives you positive emotions.


Fine Art Buyers Gude - How to Start Your Own Contemporary Art Collection

Owning a piece of art that speaks to you is an invaluable treasure. A piece of art will not only be a part of your space or a conversation piece. If you buy an artwork that you really love, it will be a source of joy, inspiration, and peace every time you glance at it. So, start preparing for your art collection today. Let us know if we can be of help. You can reach us at 310-657-1711 or email us at if you have any questions.

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  1. […] and success of your business so it is good to know what you are looking for. For example, if you want to buy Andy Warhol art, then you need to find a trusted dealer and confirm that it is authentic, for Warhol’s art is […]

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