An account by young collector, Wael Hattar, on what to consider when buying art for the aspiring and new collector. Wael, a multidisiciplinary artist and avid collector gives us his experiences and insight on the fundamentals of making well informed art decisions!
Before going into how to buy art or the details of what to buy one must think about the “why” first. Why buy art? We have the people that want to have something pretty in their house, we have the ones that want to have conversation pieces for when people come over, we have the latest trend and keeping up with the Joneses and we even have the accidental love at first sight. What all of these have in common is the fact that we are stuck with a piece of art that is within our private and personal space, and like any other family member it isn’t that easy to ignore or get rid off.
When you want to get into art collecting you always hear about people who are in it for an investment. Investing in art isn’t that simple, and these people have been doing it for many years and probably got to a point where it is a side career or even a lifestyle. As a young collector, you should never have “investment” cloud your judgment, and lets be fair here most of the new collectors should start with a simple budget and ease themselves into it.
Having simple (logical) rules is the best thing when it comes to art buying as it keeps you calm in an otherwise emotional situation. I say emotional because it isn’t like getting a couch or socks, but rather something you will keep looking at… which gets us to point one: You need to love (or at least really really like) what you are about to buy. You will have it for a while and you don’t want to wake up a week later thinking “oh this is sooo last year what was I thinking”. Once you have established with yourself that YOU like it (I say “you” here with vigour because sometimes we do fall under peer pressure and other people’s tastes, so unless they live with you, you’re the only one married to this piece for years to come) you should take a step back and see who the artist and the gallery is and if they are serious about the work. Yes, I have managed to take the romance out of it but it’s for your own good. We as art collectors are supporting artist and gallery, so as patrons you don’t want to invest financially and emotionally in something that was an accident or worse a marketing ploy.
Research the artist and the gallery because there are a lot of art works out there and you don’t want to help someone’s career if they themselves are not as invested as you are. A good gallery helps guide and push the artist to grow thus making your piece also grow in importance and the future work of this artist evolve with it. Yet you don’t want something you own to just be an unknown scribble that anyway your little cousin can doodle. We all want to feel proud that our taste in art is respected, but also that we are helping an artist grow and ourselves being that actual patron.
Finally and probably the most important, even though the last thing you want to discuss openly is budget. Money is not a topic politely discussed so I’ll be brief here. Do not buy something you can’t afford because it will be in your face and will remind you everyday how much your life would have been simpler if you just didn’t get it. You end up hating the piece and probably less likely to get another piece anytime soon. Art should not be a burden on you, it should be a happy little feeling that you can never exactly and fully describe.
Be honest with yourself, listen to your gut while analyzing with your mind, and fall in love with something that you find beautiful.