Art I Want You: an introduction to the art of collecting

Published Mar 7 2017 by Deborah Carver, Director

Art I Want You will be a regular column on our blog. Myself and guest experts will enlighten you on the art of collecting. This first post includes some introductory thoughts to keep in mind when getting started with your collection. For those already on their way as collectors, please bear with me.

Posters, paintings, photographs: you know you want art for your home but how to choose? The first piece of advice I can give you is to look for something original. What is “original” art? It’s something made by the artist’s own hand: a print, drawing, painting, sculpture or ceramic, or even your grandmother’s quilt. A lot of art available for sale is not original but is a reproduction. This means that the hand-made piece has been photographed or scanned and copies of it made for sale, often in unlimited quantity.

Why buy an original? One reason is that original means the art is either one-of-a kind, or part of a limited edition. You won’t find the image or object on walls around town. The best reason to buy original art is because you are directly supporting an artist. Whether you are buying from a gallery or direct from the studio, your investment is allowing the artist to continue to produce art.

Original art is not necessarily expensive. At Studio 21, we offer art for sale ranging in price from a couple of hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Drawings and small paintings can be affordable, as can work made by young and emerging artists. Original prints are a great way to enter the art market. They will be signed and indicate how many have been produced in the edition. Prints can be made using a wide variety of traditional techniques: etching, silkscreen and lithography to name a few. Digital prints can also be “original” when the artist chooses this method for creating his image. An example of this is Alex Livingston’s work exhibiting at Studio 21 now (3-29 MAR).

With so much original art to choose from, how do you find the right piece for your home? Every artwork has a story. Often learning about the artist’s intention or process provides insight. “I know what I like” is a common remark about art. But another approach is to “like what you know”.  The more you develop your knowledge about artists and art, the more you will like. Art galleries are an amazing source of art info. Museums, such as the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, are one type of gallery. Their mandate is to collect and to interpret their collection to the public. They usually charge an admission or membership fee. Commercial galleries are free to visit and the staff love to discuss art and artists. You can visit them again and again until you make a decision to buy.

How do you know when you have found a piece of art that is worth the purchase? Buying your new artwork should be a feel-good experience. Your new artwork should make you feel something special. This may be because it relates to a place or an incident in your life, or because it spurs your imagination. Galleries will usually let you take art home “on approval” for a day or two. Test how your painting or sculpture feels in different spots in your home. Great art reaches out and changes the space around it as well. If the piece you have bought does this, you have chosen well!


Studio 21