A new generation has become entranced by the possibilities of finding up-and-coming and potentially high-value artists. This is thanks to the increasing access that even casual collectors (or would-be collectors) now have to the art world through online galleries like Artnet and Paddle8; the exploding popularity of fairs like Art Basel’s many international iterations; and the growing presence of museums, fairs, galleries, and artists on Instagram. This also presents a problem: With so many different ways of discovering these pieces, where does one start? Enter Elena Soboleva, a special projects manager for Artsy. Here, she shares her advice for young collectors: exactly who to collect, what to collect, and how to collect it, both online and off, at every price point.
1. Do your own research.
When you don’t know the market well it’s easy to fall for things just because they’re buzzed about, especially on social media. I recommend learning about art and artists online so the choices become your own. I’ve heard the advice that when starting to collect one should spend a year looking and not buying. While that may be a bit extreme, you should take time to develop your eye. If you are buying something simply because someone told you it will go up in value or be the next Basquiat, I would be very cautious.
2. Quality, not quantity.
Invest in fewer pieces that are higher quality. Art is a purchase for life, so it’s better to collect slowly with focus than try to rush and take a more decorative approach.
3. Join young patron groups.
There are plenty of organizations around various cities that you can join to support the arts, and most of the memberships are tax deductible. They serve to bring young collectors together and introduce them to curators, museum shows, talks, and even studio visits with local artists. In New York City, the Guggenheim Young Collectors Council or MoMA’s Contemporary Circle are great examples. Choose an institution that suits your interests.
4. Consider video art.
The video medium as it now exists online can be transformative. It’s satisfying to a buyer because they can fully preview the works they are purchasing in the native state and pieces tend to be very affordable. Have a lot of screens in your house? Why not activate them with video art? Nothing starts a dinner party conversation like video works playing. Daata Editions, founded by major U.K. collector Anita Zabludowicz, is a great place to start and features pieces by Chloe Wise, Amalia Ulman, and Jon Rafman.
5. Visit traditional brick-and-mortar auction houses online.
Sotheby’s and Christie’s have taken note of consumers shifting into the digital realm and, much like the rest of luxury goods, leapt online to offer various sales with the click of a mouse. In fact, Sotheby’s will be hosting its first online sale with Artsy at the end of October featuring digital-engaged art catering toward younger audiences.
While buying from the auction houses you should make sure to request additional images and a full condition report, and ask for a shipping quote to better understand the full costs.
6. On a tight budget? Stick to editions.
Edition pieces are multiples produced by an artist to enable collectors to purchase at a lower price point. Some museum stores offer work from artists they exhibit, like London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, while independent Web shops like Exhibition A offers new editions every week by top emerging talent, such as Genieve Figgis or Brian Calvin. The works often start at $100. White Cube and the Gagosian Gift Shop also work with their artist programs to produce limited-edition works at a price point that is more affordable. Through these portals you have access to the most coveted artists in the world.
7. Attend major art events (or at least see them online).
Happenings like Greater New York exhibition (currently on view at MoMA PS1) or the New Museum Triennial are where curators select from the new generation of artists and highlight their work, often acting as great determinants of taste and leading indicators for the rest of the field.