Fine art collection

Building a Fine Art Collection: The Definitive Guide

Are you looking to add a touch of culture and refinement to your home? Do you want to enhance your daily life with beauty while expressing your taste? A fine art collection is an excellent way to integrate your unique personality into your decor.

However, building a fine art collection can be very overwhelming for clients starting out because knowing the pieces to select can be difficult without help.  Clients can end up collecting the wrong artwork because they have not had the opportunity or exposure to quality works by today’s leading artists.

The fine art industry is extremely diverse, with so many talented and unique artists providing a wide array of styles and subject matters, it is hard to pinpoint the art that will speak to you and also stand the test of time. So, how do you even begin to make choices?

Luckily, with proper guidance, you can calmly follow a path to make you a satisfied and successful collector. From finding your style to displaying your artwork, you’ll learn to enjoy the process of acquiring your artwork. You’ll likely build relationships with gallerists, curators, artists and other collectors along the way. Plus, you’ll be creating a collection you can enjoy for life.

Determine The Purpose of Your Fine Art Collection

It’s important to have a well-thought-out purpose that’s driving your decision to collect art. Are you looking to add color and beauty to your home? Is collecting artwork a means to invest and create heirlooms to your family? Knowing the “why” behind your reason for collecting will help you in making many of your purchase decisions.

Many collectors are just truly very passionate about fine art. Their love of the works can lead to buying pieces simply because they appeal to them. Owning art and displaying it in their homes enriches their lives and fuels their spirits.

Fine art is a wonderful and unique addition to a home’s interior. Collectors purchase works that speak to them and reflect their own sensibilities about life, at the same time these works inherently add unique character and soul to their homes.  A quality artwork can make a statement in a space and add significantly to the decor by transforming the room from sterile and ordinary to dynamic and original.

Collecting art supports a community of artists and galleries and gives people the opportunity to connect with their inner feelings. Collectors learn and expand their thoughts and ideas as they meet and interact with creators and curators in the artistic community.

Curating a complete collection is an opportunity for individual expression because it is a chance to select a combination of pieces that explore various aspects of a person’s psyche to weave together an overall story of who they are. It’s also a perfect opportunity to create a collection to pass down as heirlooms to future generations.

Collecting art can also be done for financial reasons so clients are often buying lower-cost work early by budding artists that they hope will increase in value. These days it’s best to stick to purchasing works you love as collecting for profit is not as common or affordable as it was back in the 60’s & 70’s. There are fewer opportunities now for clients to buy up and coming artists for very little money and cash in on them later.  The fact is today art is a commodity and an asset class in which collecting for investment requires a great deal of wealth, knowledge and access.

Your reasoning behind building a collection will likely be a combination of many factors, but it’s important not to make those reasons prevent you from finding works that you connect to emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.  Purchasing art solely for decorative or monetary reasons is short sighted and usually results in artwork that does not inspire and nurture the owner over time. You’ll be able to successfully curate a collection that aligns with your vision, sensibility, personality, feelings, outlook and interests if you free yourself from making decisions based on outside factors that may fluctuate and change in time, for example your decor, your living space and the auction value of any artist.

Look For Inspirational Fine Art For Your Collection

Take some time to get inspired for ideas that help you with the direction of your collection. You’ve likely been looking at art for years, however, it’s important to start thinking about art with the mindset of a collector.

Spend some afternoons wandering through museums in your area. Look for the styles and colors that appeal to you. Pay close attention to how nearby pieces speak to each other as this will give you an idea of ways you can combine different pieces in a way you’ll enjoy.

Visiting galleries is helpful in defining your taste and getting a good idea of price ranges. Check out an artist’s opening or gallery event for a low-pressure environment to ask questions; plus this is also a good opportunity to meet seasoned collectors and get their input and advice.

You can even visit your local library and peruse art books or browse the internet for pieces and styles you’re attracted to. Many clients will create bookmarks or a virtual idea board to visualize your goals for your collection.

Decide Your Style for Your Collection

Once you immerse yourself in art, you should have a good idea of your style preferences. You may choose to limit your choices by collecting works in just a few specific styles or you might simply just purchase pieces that appeal to you regardless of style.

The works you choose should reflect who you are as a person regardless of your home’s current design aesthetic. If you’re struggling to determine your own art preferences, other areas of your life can give you clues.

The way you’ve designed your home can be a huge clue. Do you gravitate towards more sleek lines and colors? Modern or contemporary art may fit more seamlessly into your life and your living spaces. Or do you need to see something more realistic in your artworks so that classical and impressionist styles may be more suited to your sensibility and lifestyle.

Your clothing is how you express yourself and it can direct you in choosing styles of art that can express your taste. If you choose to dress in simple prints and neutral colors, you may find yourself drawn to art in minimalist styles. Abstract and Avante Garde style art pieces will likely fit your personality if you prefer to make bold statements with clothing choices.

Discovering what kinds of art you are drawn to can give you a helpful starting point to begin your shopping process and make the whole process less overwhelming. Knowing what you’re looking for can also help guide your browsing and make conversations with curators more beneficial. Clearly communicating your likes and dislikes makes the buying process much more efficient.

Set Your Budget

Another big factor that dictates how you build your collection is your budget. You can set a starting budget to get your collection started with a few pieces or you can decide an amount you are able and willing to pay on a per-piece basis.  You may decide to spend more on important works that will be displayed in key areas of your home or office, like the living room or boardroom while choosing less expensive or reproduction works for hallways and bedrooms.

Fortunately, fine art comes in a wide range of prices. Your set budget will likely not be a barrier to growing your collection and there are ways to save so you can stretch your art buying dollar.

Works by emerging artists are a great place to start as these pieces often come at a lower price point than those of established and popular artists. Plus, the artist you collect might end up surging in popularity, making their early pieces extremely valuable.

You can also look for auctions to get a great piece at a lower price and it’s also a good way to procure hard to find pieces. However, buying works at auction is tricky and a collector needs to make sure to exercise restraint and not buy works in a moment of impulse and excitement.

Regardless of how you shop, it’s important to set your budget but be flexible when the right art or artwork comes along. Splurging on a piece that you love outside of your price range is usually never a mistake as over time collectors are happy they went for the best piece they could get.  Normally clients who don’t buy great pieces when they have the chance are the ones that are regretful and who end up with collectors that are weak and uninspiring. Resist temptation to buy inexpensive and common artwork and keep your mind focused on the long term goal of collecting great pieces that you will love and own forever.

Plan Your Installation

Before you start procuring pieces, it would be smart to plan out your installation. Think about the area or areas of your home that you plan to display your pieces. You’ll want to have specific spaces in mind when selecting your artwork.

Walk around your home and assess your usable display areas. Do you have space to show your collection in one area or does it make more sense to find pieces to scatter thoughtfully around the house? There are no rules and your collection should be displayed in a way that you’ll enjoy it most.

As you purchase pieces, carefully consider how they will fit into your space. Identifying the right scale is important so your artwork doesn’t get lost in your decor or overwhelm your space. Take measurements of your planned installation spaces so you can refer to them when you’re browsing artwork. It is important to also photograph the walls or spaces in your home that you want to find artwork for.  Keep them in your phone, along with specific measurements so that when you see an appealing piece you will have the tools to determine if it will fit.

If you plan on grouping multiple pieces, think about how they will look together as you start collecting them. If you want a cohesive look, you can find one unifying characteristic like a color, shape or theme.  You could also select one medium or style for specific display spaces, although, you can just simply put pieces together that you love and play well off each other.

Plan thoughtfully when situating pieces in your home. It might be risky to place that fragile sculpture in a high traffic area, especially if you have kids. Think about the exposure to sunlight, especially for more delicate mediums. It might be a better idea to find a shadier location to prevent fading. You want to enjoy your pieces while also keeping them safe.

Visit Galleries to Add to Your Collection

Once you’re ready to start seriously shopping, it’s a good idea to visit a gallery and get to know the artwork. Many collectors are loyal clients of the galleries that closely match their aesthetic and lifestyle so finding a gallery you can relate to can help make collecting more enjoyable.

Look for a gallery that features works from a wide variety of both emerging and accomplished artists and make sure to visit often as galleries frequently rotate their offerings. Take advantage of the gallery staff’s experience and ask questions and allow them to guide you in your browsing process.

Think beyond just the gallery walls. A well-connected gallery can source amazing pieces from other curators and artists so it will benefit your collection to develop a relationship with one of these galleries.

Browse Online To Add to Your Collection

Online shopping has grown exponentially, making purchasing nearly everything more convenient including fine art pieces. The internet can make your shopping easier and more efficient as you will be able to browse artwork and research pieces much more efficiently.

Look for an online gallery that has extensive experience and is well-established and has a good reputation and a high level of expertise that will ensure you get the service you deserve. An online gallery that carries a wide range of artists will provide you with the best selection to make browsing easier and more conclusive.

Full-service online galleries make the purchase process seamless from start to finish. A well-organized and curated site can eliminate frustration and make finding the right piece simple as you are not wading through lots of mediocre selections.  Look for tools and features that allow you to search by style and size to make shopping easier, plus an intuitive online gallery can give you access to a wider range of works that speak to many of your aspirations and desires.

Customer service is key to making online art shopping successful. You want the experience to mirror the level of service you would receive at a gallery. Therefore, it’s beneficial to lean towards sites with a strong customer focus. In addition, the expertise of a curator is an important part of art shopping online and sites that offer communication tools are extremely helpful during the process. You will receive the same expert advice as you would visiting a gallery, but virtually. With their expertise, they can guide you in selecting the right piece for your space within your budget. By helping you navigate the choices that fit your criteria, they will expertly help you choose a piece you’ll love.

Develop Relationships with Curators For Your Fine Art Collection

No one is more valuable in helping you start and grow your collection than an insightful curator. They have extensive knowledge of the world of fine art and an experienced curator also has the know-how to guide you in selecting pieces you’ll love.

Developing a relationship with the curators you work with will benefit you so much. They will get to know your style and personality. They might even give you a heads up when they receive a piece that they think will fit well into your collection.

A good curator will understand and share your unique vision. They will get to know you through your conversations and the pieces you’ve collected. They will also be able to make recommendations for additions to your collections that will go well with your current artwork.

Find a Framer

It’s pointless to invest in a great piece then ruin its display with a low-quality frame. It’s important to find a framer that you know values the importance of their craft. Your curator will likely be able to help you find the best framer for your style and budget.

Quality frames are essential in protecting and preserving your pieces. Ask your framer for guidance on selecting the best acid-free matting materials. You will also want a good acrylic or glass front that’s made specifically to protect your artwork from damaging UV rays, especially if you plan to put it in a sunny location.

Your gallery might even offer an in-house framing service. This is a convenient and helpful option. They will take the utmost care in making sure your purchased piece is expertly and beautifully framed.

You can try to keep your frames and mats cohesive, especially for pieces that will be hanging close to each other. You can use the same mat color for all of your pieces, or you can choose to go with the same framing material. It can be fun to mix up frames but deciding on one feature to marry them together creates a polished look.

Look for the Right Collection Pieces

Many collectors choose pieces solely for their potential value but selecting pieces that are likely to appreciate in the long-term is not that easy so make sure the artwork you choose to collect speaks to who you are as a person and is reflective of your own sensibilities.

That being said, fine art tends to do well in any economy. Even when the stock market is trending downwards, your art can continue to increase in value. Historically, art has appreciated by a steady 3.97% per year. It’s an asset with the dual benefit that you’ll be able to enjoy it as it grows its worth.

Your curator likely knows the art world inside and out. They are a great tool to help you select smart important pieces. They are aware of emerging artists that are likely to see larger success so use their guidance to make wise purchases.

Look for artists whose works have recently been acquired by museums or well-known collectors as this is a good indicator that the artist’s career is sound and likely to rise in the future. Collecting one of their pieces early before their popularity surges can get you work at very affordable pricing.

Be Open-Minded

Over time, your style and taste will likely evolve so be mindful and make every effort to buy pieces that you think you’ll love long term. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and buy pieces you didn’t fully get when you first saw them.

For instance, you may have started out with the goal of creating a collection of peaceful, impressionist paintings; then, you happen upon a stunning and bold art deco piece. Don’t limit and deny yourself of the joy of owning a unique bold piece because you’ve restricted yourself too much.

Reevaluate your collection from time to time. Think about ways you can add to it and make it more unique to your personality. Step outside of your comfort zone and add unexpected pieces that you truly love because doing so will ensure you end up with a more dynamic collection that reflects your changing style.

Purchase Carefully

Be patient and take your time when completing purchases. It may be tempting to build up your collection quickly or jump at a trendy piece, however, your priority should be finding the right pieces for you.

There will always be a collector with a bigger collection than yours so don’t compare yours and stress over acquiring more pieces. Be patient and focus on the quality of the artwork you buy, not the quantity.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ever-changing trends in the art world. You might be unknowingly influenced to purchase a piece of art out of a bandwagon mindset. Concentrate on selecting artwork that you truly love and that expresses your individuality.

Display Your Art Collection Proudly

Your collection will make a huge impact on your decor and it will be an important feature to share with friends and visitors.  However, there are some basic rules for hanging artwork, like placing paintings at eye level and centering them on the walls iis standard but you should follow your instincts when selecting where to place your pieces. The way your collection is displayed should be just as individual and the artwork you’ve selected.

You can make a bold statement with an off-centered hanging or by gathering pieces in a unique way. Hang a sculpture on a wall or use a floating shelf instead of the traditional placement on a tabletop. Have fun finding new and unexpected ways to display your artwork.

Your collection can be the perfect ice breaker while entertaining guests. Learning some art terminology can help you discuss and explain the pieces you’ve chosen and why. Gather some background information and facts about your artwork and the artists that created it. This makes having conversations about your collection more engaging and meaningful.

Now that you’ve invested in and showed off your collection, it’s important to maintain it carefully. Make sure you develop a routine for keeping your artwork clean. It will make your display look better and help your treasured pieces last longer.

Your framer can help guide you in the right way to clean your framed works. However, all mediums require different care. So it’s essential to educate yourself on the proper cleaning techniques for all of your pieces.

You may choose to rotate your artwork or find that it’s outgrowing your space. Store your art carefully to avoid any damage. Use acid-free paper and bubble wrap to ensure safe storage. A sturdy box can provide a secure home until you’re ready to display the artwork again.

Part of maintaining your collection is safeguarding your investment. Work with your insurance agent to design a plan that gives you the coverage you need. Make sure to keep them updated on any new additions so they can adjust your policy.


The decision to start building a fine art collection can be life-changing. You’ll likely discover it is a hobby and pastime that brings your immeasurable joy. You will also be preserving history creating your legacy with the pieces you choose.

From purchasing your first piece to your hundredth, you’ll be expressing yourself and your feelings along the way. The piece of artwork you choose will represent that moment in your lifetime while a carefully chosen collection will tell your unique story to the world.