Who is the Collector and how does the Collector collect?

Dear Followers, Friends, Collectors and future-Collectors,

Since our research tries to bring the role and character of the Collector more into the front, we will share with you some articles and reviews on the topic of the Collector. We are researching the role of the Collector, the similar and different patterns of the collections and the influencing factors of such collections in terms of Eastern Europe. But is there a common something that all these Collectors share? Are there rules they are unconsciously following? For these (and several other) questions we have collected articles from several authors and will share with you, to find possible answers. First we share an article highlighting ten bulletpoints of being a collector by Trudy Montgomery!

Top Ten Rules for the New Art Collector
by Trudy Montgomery

Published in Artworks Magazine, Spring 2008.

Even for a genuine art lover, the thought of “collecting” art can be overwhelming. It requires a certain amount of confidence, often a leap of faith and perhaps most intimidating of all – parting with a substantial amount of cash. You’ve probably heard the stories – the friend who chose an art deco wannabe over a Miro limited edition print. Years later the Lady with the Cigarette has been relegated to a relative’s basement and the friend is still lamenting the loss of his Miro, not to mention thousands of dollars. Clearly no one wants to make a mistake like that but artistic paralysis is not the answer, either.

As Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” And that is probably the best reason to forge ahead into the big bad world of collecting. But we are not sending you in alone. Trudy Montgomery is an art advisor with offices in San Francisco and London, and she has come up with ten pearls of wisdom for the new collector. “I’m sort of like a personal shopper for art,” explains Trudy. “I find the perfect pieces for clients – in their price range.” And that’s key. Trudy insists that with a little education, a little patience, and some money, anyone can be a collector. So here’s Trudy’s top ten rules for the new collector.

1. It starts with you.

The best guidance for buying art is that you’ve got to love it. But it’s important to establish your purpose for collecting, as well as the location and environment you’ll display your collection. Your personal aesthetic may be influenced by your background and culture, while the style, size and subject matter you select may be driven by the space available for displaying artwork. Are you collecting for fun, for investment, to create a legacy for future generations, or to decorate your primary residence, office or second home?

2. Decide what you don’t like

This is often a good way to hone in on what you do like. Is there a specific medium (photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, new media/video) you prefer? Analyze the formal aspects (light, color, line, mood) and subject matter (humor, landscape, figurative, portraiture, political) that appeal to you. Decide if you want abstract or realist work in your collection.

3. Pick a niche

Establish the focus of your collection. While there’s value in a cohesive collection, it’s also more fun to have a theme such as a specific artist, school/art movement or time period. Specializing also allows you to gain more knowledge and make informed decisions along the way.

4. Budget

Create this early, but be prepared to be flexible for the right piece (the good ones usually cost more!). Align your budget with your collecting goals and make it appropriate for the medium. Buying contemporary art in the primary market (direct from artists or their galleries) is cheaper than buying in the secondary market (from dealers or at auction). Timing is an integral part of collecting because the art market is cyclical and may reward one category over another at any one time.

5. Quality, quality, quality

Always buy the best example of an artist’s work your budget can afford. Choose original oil paintings over prints, but buying a limited edition print by a big name artist is also worthy. Select only works in excellent condition, and check for authenticity and provenance (previous owners and when and where it was acquired).

6. Get to know the artist

Research is easier today than ever before, especially online. Credentials and references are the cornerstones of an artist’s reputation: look for awards, solo exhibitions in respected galleries, museum collections. Where possible, take the opportunity to meet the artist and their dealer at gallery openings and special museum events. These relationships give you access to the artist’s work as it becomes available, and know that the best work is often reserved for prestige and loyal collectors.

7. Investment Value

It’s best to think long term when acquiring art, and that’s why experts will tell you it’s important to love what you collect. The art market is not liquid like the stock market; it can take a long time to sell a piece of art. Although it’s counter-intuitive to think about reselling before you buy, know that the investment value is important and will depend on 8 factors:

i) Reputation of the artist.

ii) Rarity. Is the work unique or greatly limited in supply?

iii) Authenticity. Can you prove it? Keep all paperwork!

iv) Provenance. Has the work come from a recognized gallery, collector or purchased at auction?

v) Aesthetics. Is the work pleasing to look at?

vi) Signature Style. Is the work of the style the artist is best known for?

vii) Condition. Excellent quality is rewarded.

viii) Market environment. Is this art asset class currently in favor?

8. Invest in your art education

Here are five things you can do to invest in your art education rapidly and avoid making mistakes:

i) Join museum collector groups, and art schools, all of which offer networking opportunities and special lectures.

ii) Read the reviews: subscribe to art magazines, blogs and other online resources. Arts coverage in the New York Times, LA Times and most major newspapers is excellent.

iii) See as much art as you can: attend openings and art fairs.

iv) Go back to school! Sign up for Art history evening classes – a great way to build context and fill in knowledge gaps.

v) Develop relationships with galleries, advisors, curators and other collectors.

9. Hire an art advisor

Working with an objective expert who has your best interests at heart is the quickest and easiest way to find art you like and within your budget. Art advisors or consultants provide access to the best work (through their relationships with artists, galleries and dealers) and may pass on discounts where possible. Working with an advisor is also a great way to get an art education, hone your eye and avoid making mistakes. Some advisors will accompany clients to art fairs for intensive shopping trips.

A good advisor also takes care of the logistics: sourcing art through their network, overseeing the process of commissioning new works, coordinating shipping, framing, installation, lighting and display, as well as arranging insurance appraisals, coverage and valuations for sale and consignment.

10. Have Fun!

Don’t feel pressured. Stay true to your purpose, acknowledge that your tastes will change over time. Make sure you continue to relate to the pieces of art and the aesthetic experience. Collecting can provide a lifetime of fun, a focus to travel, and an opportunity to be enriched by the creativity of artists, some whom you’ll get to know personally.

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