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Art advice - 27 September 2019

A Guide to Collecting Art

Whether you are a regular art collector, an impulsive one-off buyer or a prolific photographer, putting a piece of art on your wall can provide untold joy.

But if you are looking to start a collection or merely buying your first piece of art, it can be a daunting experience. JM Finn has long been associated with the arts and advocates following your passion. They exist to look after your wealth so that you can nurture your passions safe in the knowledge that your financial affairs are in good hands.

They’ve produced a guide to collecting which features some introductory articles on the world of art as well as insights from a variety of experts designed to inspire, encourage and embolden readers to make that next purchase.

The guide aims to help you with your next purchase and give you the confidence to follow your passions, so that whatever you next hang on the wall or put in a frame on your desk, it refreshes the soul by adding some more colour to your daily life.

You might not think of yourself as an art collector. Perhaps you’ve bought one or two paintings in the past. Or perhaps you’re thinking of making your very first purchase. But as soon as you’ve put a print or painting on your wall, you’ve got an art collection underway.

Read on for a taster of their tips on how to collect art and download the full guide on their website.

How to start an art collection?

The benefits of owning art are obvious. Art improves your living space; gives you talking points for your guests and allows you to find comfort and aesthetic inspiration in your own home.

So, when you’re thinking about buying art, what should your main considerations be? By far the most important thing is to trust your own judgement. If a piece of art works for you, then that’s really all that matters.

JM Finn quoteWhen you do find something you like, make a point of pursuing your interest. Whether or not you buy the piece, find out more about the artist who created it. It’s never been easier to keep an eye on artists whose work you admire; you can usually follow their careers online. Instagram, in particular, has become a major resource for artists and their admirers alike.

At the same time, don’t allow your tastes to narrow too much. Make a point of regularly visiting galleries, both near your home and when you travel. And talk to the people who work there – gallery staff are highly knowledgeable. Beyond galleries, keep an eye out for art fairs, and don’t forget about auctions and art-college degree shows.

Also, when you find an artist you like, remember that they’ll usually produce work in different formats – with widely varying prices. Prints tend to be much more affordable than paintings – and even prints by well-known artists can be relatively affordable. Here, you should pay attention to edition numbers; the higher the number, the cheaper the prints should be.

Don’t forget drawings either. They generally sell for much less than paintings, but they can be just as striking. Salvador Dali described drawing as "the honesty of art" – because the artist’s skill with line is laid bare for the viewer.

JM Finn looking at art
The other thing that should guide you when you’re looking at art is your living space. If you were to buy a painting or print, where would you put it? The trick here is to think about the relationship between the space and the artwork. Narrow spaces – hallways and stairs – are good for smaller, intricate pieces such as drawings, linocuts and etchings that benefit from being examined close up. Exposed wall spaces – as in a living room or above a dining table – often demand bigger, bolder and more dramatic works.

But don’t just think about your walls. Corners, mantelpieces and stairwells could all house pieces of sculpture. Bookshelves can make suitable settings for small artworks – with or without books behind them. By thinking about the spaces around you in your home, you can aim to make better choices when you view art.

One thing you shouldn’t do is think of artworks as investments. When you’re buying art, buy it for its own sake. Some pieces may rise in value, but the art market is fickle and tends to be dominated by a few big names. So, buy art because you love it, not because you plan on selling it later. The real attraction of collecting art is the prospect of furnishing your home for a whole lifetime of enjoyment.

So, you’re ready to buy?

Here are JM Finn’s top tips to help you make the right decision:

1. Start following your favourite artists: social media, particularly Instagram makes it easy to follow lots of artists. The more you see of their work, the more likely you’ll know if you like it. 

2. Look around: there are a lot of art fairs and galleries and just looking is a great way to get a feel for what you like and what you can afford.

3. Buying a print can be a good way to start: we don’t mean buy a poster, but buy a limited edition print and ensure it’s well framed. This can be a cost-effective option.

4. Trust your instinct: you should buy what you like and following your instinct is a good indicator of what you like.

5. Remember a piece of art should be enjoyed, so don’t feel constrained by conventions: if you like something that is original and seems different to the normal you, have the confidence to go for it. This brings us back to trusting your instinct.

6. Think about where it might go: are you buying something for the living room or the bedroom? Either way, if you get it home and it doesn’t do it for you, move it around the house.

7. Get it framed properly: depending on where you bought the picture, it might need framing. The right frame can make a big difference to the picture. The gallery will be able to help in this regard but do factor in the cost when making the purchase as framing isn’t cheap.

8. Don’t think about it as an investment: you’re buying because you love it not because you want to sell it down the line. Of course, it's lovely if it does retain or grow in value, but the 'hot' artists are those that are bought for investments and can typically command the greater prices.

9. Be open minded: don’t just look for pictures on the wall. Consider sculpture for both in the house and garden.

 A Guide to Collecting Art

Download the full JM Finn Guide to Collecting Art on their website.


Affordable Art Fair is proud to be in partnership with JM Finn for the 20th anniversary fair in Battersea Park, 17 – 20 October. Book your tickets today to discover the joy of collecting art as you browse over 100 galleries and 1,000s of artworks.

In Partnership with JM Finn



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