Collecting Art: How To Start Building A Collection

The idea of collecting art might seem daunting for many; reserved for those with millions to spend on artworks by the greatest artists of our times. But don’t be intimidated, many art collectors started off with small budgets collecting emerging artists (that latter became more well known). In other words, everyone can enjoy buying and owning art…And it can be very affordable. Whether it’s a painting, photographic print, monotype or etching, the key is to choose something you love and buy with confidence.

Always set a budget and stick to it
The first step before you even start looking for works to collect is to establish a budget. Figuring out exactly how much you are willing to spend will help set the parameters on what is available for you to buy and where. It is always a good idea to start small and gradually increase your budget as you grow your collection, confidence, and your understanding of art. A budget of $1,000 or less is a good starting point but make sure it works with your income.

And remember, a good rule to follow is quality over quantity.

Define your goals in art collecting
Everyone has a different reason to start collecting art. Some people start collecting as a form of investment or a means of collecting a precious piece of history. While others start a collection as a way to support the arts. And you might even be reading this article because you need art on your walls and don’t want generic prints from a home store. And that’s okay. Collecting art is a very subjective experience, but it is important to know why you want to start an art collection. Of course this can change over time.

Do your homework: Visit shows and galleries
Just like any new endeavour, it’s all about doing research and learning the field. Now this doesn’t mean you need to know everything about art, but we suggest researching your area of interest. Into contemporary photography? Then start there. Not even sure what we even mean by medium? Then start researching mediums: oil painting, photography, mixed media, or even ballpoint pen (What? Ballpoint pen art is a thing? Yup – artist Ebrin Bagheri does it well)

Above: A “Ballpoint Pen” piece by Ebrin Bagheri (2022)

First step is to check out some local galleries in your city or visit graduate shows at your local art schools. Have friends with great art in their homes? Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice and tips. And of course do online research. We’ve always been a big fan of art shows like the Artist Project as a great source to discover new artists from a variety of mediums.

Follow your favourite artists on Instagram
Just like every industry, social media has become an important factor in the art world. Instagram is a great way to get to know artists, galleries and collectors. We recommend  following some of your local contemporary commercial galleries (Daniel Faria Gallery or Caviar 20) to discover emerging artists and art fairs for key events in the arts calendar. If you are a fan of  And if your taste leans more towards mixed media, follow Sandy Middleton for some great photography and 2D paper sculptures.

Trust your instincts
Be brave and bold. But always be discerning. If you’re on the hunt for something in a particular style or medium, it’s better to invest in a great original of this type of work from an emerging artist than to opt for a print from a better-known artist. Over time, the art will appreciate more and you will have the satisfaction of supporting the next generation of artists. So whether you love landscapes or photography or even pop culture infused contemporary painting (BTW we love Celine Gabrielle) there is something out there that you will love no matter your tastes.

Above: Celine Gabrielle’s “Don’t Live Someone Else’s Life” Oil and acrylic on canvas (2021)

Frame it right: Preserve your collection
Investing in art can be pricey, so remember to preserve your investment and have it framed properly. This is not the time to save money by doing it yourself. Always remember that simple is best when it comes to framing. Focus on the artwork and not on the frame itself, it should compliment the art but not distract. A mount should be kept simple and works on paper should match the paper colour. And always make sure the framer is using acid free papers to preserve the work.

Want to get your art collection started pronto? Check out the Artist Project from April 21 – April 24, 2022 in Toronto for some amazing art from emerging and established artists.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at www.christiandareedited.com or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

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