In the world of art collecting, millennials are shaking up the system. They are now the fastest growing demographic, rewriting the rules on the way. Often perceived as a notoriously expensive venture, buying art is transitioning into a more social and democratic practice. As galleries in the country start catering to the new crop of young collectors, this guide aims to decode the elusive art world. Take a ride through the essentials of building your first collection. We warn you ahead of time of the anticipation the hunt brings and the frisson of excitement you may experience when enjoying your acquisitions.
Commandment 1: Know What You’re Looking For
Up your cultural savvy and gain an informed view of the art market. How? Read up on art history, movements, and current trends. Instagram is arguably the most powerful platform for artists and galleries. Use it to discover and connect with contemporary and emerging artists. Make the second part of your research hands-on by visiting exhibitions, openings and performances around you to see different styles, techniques and artists. The more art you see, the better you see. What you are innately drawn towards? What inspires an emotional response? Collecting acts as an expression of your identity so be discerning in your taste, brave in your choice and trust your instinct.
Commandment 2: Create Your Own Rulebook
With so much art to choose from – painting, sculpture, photography, video, prints, blown glass, installations, textiles and more – it’s important to create some filters to refine your search. Decide on a price point, medium, style or theme ahead of time to focus on artwork that matches your criteria. Defying popular notion, art doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. If you like the more established figures, their smaller works offer their essence at a more affordable price, as do mediums like drawings or edition prints. Emerging artists will generally be more accessible. Supporting new talent gives you the joy of seeing the value of your purchase grow simultaneously with the artists’ career. A true win-win!
Commandment 3: Understand the Value You Bring
Apart from the emotional and aesthetic value art holds, art can also be a profitable or philanthropic venture. If you’re building a collection for its economic outcome, buying art is a long-term game. With some exceptions, values move slowly, so the longer you hold onto a piece, the more likely you are to get a great return. A piece that’s held ownership in one pair of hands is usually of higher value than one that’s been passed through multiple hands. If you have philanthropic aspirations, collecting art falls under the umbrella of impact investing. You can support artists’ careers with your patronage, bringing a social impact to your investing and infusing your collection with meaning. Primarily, however, invest in work you love. The art market and its tastes are subject to change and if you buy what you believe in, you’ll always be happy with your collection.
Commandment 4: Stop, Look Both Ways and Make Your First Purchase
When you’re ready to navigate the art world, inquire about pieces you like online and offline. Traditionally, art was bought at galleries and auctions but with the rise of global online platforms, the process of buying art has become more democratic and empowering to the young buyer. The variety of art available online allows you to filter your selection to size, style, color and price. When you’ve set your eye on something great, get intimate with the artist. If interested in what a gallery is offering, you could talk to the gallerist about the work or set up an appointment with them to meet the artist and hear their story directly. If you’re at a fair, private opening, or studio there’s lot to learn about the work on the spot. By understanding the piece of work you’re about to buy, you can fully understand its value and establish your own personal connection to it.
Commandment 5: Celebrate Your Acquisitions
As an investment, it’s important to protect the legacy of the works you hold. Make sure your work of art holds all the correct papers of authenticity and that its history (if it has one) is well documented. Once you’ve figured out where your new piece is going to live, look at proper display techniques and conservations methods to protect it and ensure that it remains a visual wow.
Congratulations! you are now certified to start collecting.
Where to go next? Our recommended reading includes magazines like Art India and Architectural Digest. A few good websites to browse through are Collosal and Artforumand to purchase art at are Artsy, Saatchi Art and, if you’re interested in Indian art, Gallerist.
Our friend Siddharth own a private contemporary art space called MOG – Museum Of Goa. If you are in Goa we highly recommend you check it out. They also annually host Goa Affordable Art Fest, where you can buy quality art at a reasonable price.