See what’s out there: Go to galleries, browse art magazines, walk through art fairs and check out online galleries to get a wide scope and see what mediums suit your fancy. “You might be surprised with what you end up loving,” said Uprise Art’s Tze Chun.
Start small: If you’re a fledgling collector, begin with works on paper — like etchings, lithographs or collages — as opposed to more expensive canvas, art advisor Elizabeth Sadoff said. You’ll save money as you familiarize yourself with the market: Works on paper sized up to 30×40 can go for $350 to $3,500 when bought from the artist directly, according to Sadoff.
Know thyself: Think about how new art fits into your lifestyle and your home. “Examine your tastes in furniture and fashion as a starting point,” Chun advises. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If you love something, go for it — art can also inspire you to redecorate.
Meet the artists: “Think about collecting as a long-term relationship,” Chun said. It’s best to avoid websites that keep the artist out of the mix and focus on the work as a commodity only, Sadoff advises. You can even attend MFA shows at city art schools to get familiar with emerging faces — a tip that especially benefits buyers with less money to spend.
Work your way up: Works on canvas, say 30×30 to 48×60, can sell directly from an artist for as low as $950 to $18,000, said Sadoff. And when you’re ready to really spend — for investment-worthy, in-demand art, as opposed to art that elicits an emotional response — the base price will be higher. In vogue now is mid-century and color field art, which Sadoff says can start at $20,000 for a 48×60 canvas.
More appreciation than appreciation: If the goal is a solid acquisition that will gain value over time, it’s best to see whether a certain artist has been represented in a museum, and has a good track record of it — think Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. That’s the key of a mature artist, Sadoff said.