Owning art has always been considered a symbol of status, good taste and often seen as something reserved for those with a better than average financial situation.
But it doesn't have to be like that, and through this article we'll point some strategies on how to start your own art collection without breaking the bank.
We are not going to focus on art collecting as an investment, although this aspect should also be taken into account since one doesn't guess the future and may need to sell a work of art or two.
The first thing to take into consideration is to buy something that you like, but don't go on buying the first piece that you see, unless of course it touches you deep in your heart and you really must have, as long as you can afford it.
If you are not a person who goes to galleries, museums, contact with artists and explores art related websites on the internet, then you may need to develop a better perception of art quality.
Someone who is not used to see art may find a certain work of art really good, but when compared to another one, that opinion may change, afterall we tend to compare.
Going to museums, art galleries and searching for art on the internet will broaden your horizons and will give you a better vision of what's going on on the art world.
After spending a couple of months to make sure that we make a good choice, it's time to start searching for that piece that will bring you joy to look at, and not something that you just bought to fill a space on your wall.
First we need to set a budget for our first acquisition. After that it's time to start looking.
You can start by any galleries that you see in your areas and take notes of the pieces that you like most and fit your budget, namely the title of the work, medium, size, year and its author.
The gallery owner or representative should be able to enlight you about the work in question and its author.
Searching the internet, you have several options such as search a style, subject, medium, etc.
You will get hundreds of results and you'll see wonderful works of art and a wide range of prices that you'll need to compare.
When visiting an artist's website, it's important to try to understand for own long he/she has been painting in order to perceive if that artist takes art seriously.
An artist who is represented by one or more galleries is usual a guarantee of dedication to his/her profession and a sign of recognition by the market.
Other places that you should seek are the art forums, where artists show and talk about their art, their careers and their artistic activities.
Usually you'll be able to see for how long they are members of that forum, but to access more information you'll have to register.
Registering will give you the chance to know the artists better and eventually ask questions to an artist whose work appeals you.
Examples of art forums are Wetcanvas, Artpapa, Beinart and Elfwood.
You can also search for art on online art shops where you can find good art at very good prices, but don't forget to try to perceive how seriously that artist takes art, afterall buying art is also an investment. You should also be aware of scams, that's why I mentioned the importance of checking for how long has an artist been working.
Now that you've done all your research, including searching for links referring the artists' names, and have selected two or three works, it's time to contact the artist or gallery.
Since our objective is to start buy acquiring just one piece, we'll obviously start by the one that we like the most.
As you may have heard and read, there are many scams going on nowadays, so it's important that the artist perceives you as genuinely interested.
You should introduce yourself, how you found out about his/her work and why do you like it.
Then it's time to ask which art materials have been used (ask for brands), since you'll want to buy an artwork to last for generations.
Don't forget to ask if there's a money back guarantee. If there's one you'll be responsible for shipping expenses and making sure that the artwork is returned intact.
After discussing how the work can be acquired and shipping conditions, it's time for payment. If buying in a gallery or in person, things get easier, but buying online is always a bit stressful for both parties.
Paypal or something similar will usually be a preferred method, followed by a bank transfer. If you pay with a check or money order, you'll only get your item after clearance.
Now lets discuss an issue that is somewhat controversial among artists: discount.
Usually an artist will not make a discount, especially gallery represented ones for the obvious reason.
And I'm sure that you would not like to buy an artwork only to find out a couple of months later that the author is making big discounts, thus making your art worth less.
However there are exceptions and many artists are willing to assist you with your purchase if you like their art but can't afford to pay in full.
Manifest your genuine interest and how you like that piece, and ask if you could pay in instalments. This method is often accepted, but note that you'll only get your work after paid in full.
It's a common practice between artists to offer a small discount to previous customers, but not to new ones, although of course this will depend on your conversation.
After waiting a couple of days or weeks (or months if you went for the instalments plan), it's time to place your work of art in a safe place, out of sunlight and not under direct light if it's a painting or drawing, or in a safe place if it's a sculpture or instalation.
It goes without saying that fumes as well as low and high temperatures should be avoided.
The artist should be able to provide you with instructions on how to better preserve your art in good conditions and should any accident happen, contact the artist or an professional restorer or conservator.
Having a private art collection is not only owning a material asset, it's living with culture in your own place and is often a good investment, especially in times of crisis.
Even during the recent years when the stock markets weren't at their best, auction houses have seen several records.
If you have any other suggestions feel free to leave them in your comments.