5 Steps to Start Collecting Art

You have the house and furniture. You are in tune with your tastes and want to add interest to your surroundings. You don’t need a home decorator: All it takes is a few pieces or well-chosen art. Not sure how to do this or where to start?

Here’s the beginner’s guide to start collecting art:

1. Seek out what you like: Does modern, photography, charcoal, or sculpture move you? When decorating or collecting, the most important thing is that you love it. Kathy Moses Shelton, art dealer and author of two books on art advises, “When choosing a piece of art, it may be far more important to find something that speaks to you and that you enjoy living with rather than acquiring something you suspect might increase in value over the years. If your collection appreciates, it’s a bonus.”

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Helen Lafrance oil on canvas, church picnic 20 x 29 in.

2. The future of art collecting is online galleries: Art online offers opportunities to obtain fabulous art at very low prices. Websites and virtual auction houses can lead to discovery of new artists and major price breaks on prints from big name artists. Saatchi Online, established by London’s famed Saatchi Gallery, curates and sells art online. Artspace.com is a website that offers limited edition prints and photographs for reasonable price points.

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Thornton Dial watercolor (b. Alabama 1928-)

3. Festivals and Fleas: For a tactile experience and the thrill of the hunt, newbies and experts visit antique festivals and flea markets (check out The West Palm Beach Antiques Festival in West Palm Beach, Florida or Scott Antiques Market in Atlanta, Georgia). Says art collector Patricia Kluge, “Learning to collect starts at good quality flea markets. Research your finds on the internet and at the library to see if you found a gem.”

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Self Portrait with Reindeer; Jimmy Lee Sudduth (b. Alabama 1910-d. )

4. Advice from an expert: Moses Shelton suggests, “When looking for well-priced unusual art or to build a collection outsider art is a great place to start. Outsider art is a term to describe self-taught artists who often have no connection with the art world. These artists sometimes use untraditional mediums and their work expresses their feelings and situations, which can sometimes be poverty, mental illness, addiction or very rural lifestyles. The result can be unique art that will not break the bank. Many outsider artists have been discovered after their deaths, so work by an unknown artist could become very valuable over the years.”

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Anonymous wood carving of African American boy with watermelon, which can be considered folk art, is more affordable than some art options.

5. Kids as Artists: Over your lifetime you will most likely receive art created by a child. Don’t dismiss it! Some kiddie art offers a strong modern art feel. When framed or matted properly, the work can make an impact. Austin-based collage artist Heather Sundquist has created beautiful collages from children’s projects. Sundquist memorializes children’s work, creates her own work and eliminates guilt for those who cannot keep every scrap that a child brings home!

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Artist Heather Sundquist


Photos Courtesy of Kathy Moses Shelton & Heather Sundquist 

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