how to start an art collection

How to start an Art Collection?

Before we start an art collection which kind of art collector are you?

Art Collector

Purely for decorative and enjoyment purposes with maybe a little return on what you paid for the artwork to begin with.

Art Speculator

Invest in art from new artists which you believe will increase in value when the artist hits their peak approx 10-15 years.

Art Investor

Purely investment purchases. Buying already valuable art for a lower price with the intention of selling the artwork on for more profit than you bought it for.

No matter whether you are wanting to start an Art Collection, become an Art Speculator or Art Investor here are the best tips to start an art collection and buy investment art:

  • Get an Original or Limited Edition Artwork
    (In paintings definitely make sure your collection is full of originals. With photography go for mostly limited edition prints and make sure you get the prints dry mounted and framed in UV protection glass preferably with true view glass or glass which shows less reflections)
  • Rarity of the image or print
    (This can be how rare it is likely that a similar version can be produced by someone else for example in landscape photography does that landscape exist any more or is it a rare weather or rare occurrence happening in the picture? How many prints have been sold and how many prints are left. An image part of a collection of 50 is much more valuable than an image part of a collection of 500)
  • Awards.
    (Has the artist won awards and which images have won many or the best awards? I am proud to have been shortlisted for Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014 and 2015. Many of my images have won bronze and silver awards in the International Epson Pano Awards 2015. Are the awards up to date and relevant? Note that some awards once an image has won certain awards that image can no longer be entered to win other awards.)
  • Where is the artist exhibiting and what education or experience as he/she got?
    (I studied photography to national diploma level in Yorkshire and had many years experience in the photography industry before creating photography landscape artworks. I have exhibited in the Cotswolds, Holmfirth Art Week and soon I will be exhibiting at The Great North Art Show at Ripon Cathedral.)
  • How is the art being stored before purchase?
    (Make sure you care for your art properly. Make sure the artwork is in low humidity – don’t hang it in the kitchen! Ask the artist about the best way to maintain your art piece. I advise for my landscape artwork once professionally framed to use a clean, dry microfibre cloth and gently go over the frame and glass. If you are redecorating make sure you take your art work off of the wall carefully and wrap in acid free tissue paper and bubble wrap, lots and lots of bubblewrap.   If you really need to “clean” the special UV protection glass or true view glass as it is sometimes called you can purchase a special glass liquid cleaner specially for this particular glass. Simply apply a little bit with the microfibre cloth separate to your regular clean, dry microfibre cloth.)
  • Art is like fashion.
    (Buy out of style but not too out of style that it’s never going to be “fashionable” again. You can overpay for art if the height of that particular collection or style is in fashion but just think of the opportunity of buying something when it isn’t in fashion and then BOOM it suddenly becomes fashionable.)
  • Is the artist dead?
    Its a grim thing to imagine but once the artist has dies the artwork is now much more valuable than if they were still alive and producing more work. Also think about how long have the been around? Are they a has been and not going to become popular anytime in the future?


Bad, unprofessional things to look out for:

  • Look for any warping of the image/print inside the frame.
    (This drives me crazy to see a “professional” have warped images in frames hung. If you are worried about this with your prints have them dry mounted before framing.)
  • Look for consistency.
    (Check out the artist other work not just what you see in front of you at that moment in time if he/she is constant and themed the likely hood is that they are going to be consistent going forward and for many years to come. If the artist is still “finding their feet” and change quality or genre and style various times then they are most likely to either give up because they can’t find themselves or their work is going to be less valuable to 1) returning clients who want something to suit their existing art pieces or 2) their work isn’t recognised or looked at as professional.)
  • Check out their why.
    (I can see your confused look as you read that why do you care why they are creating beautiful art? Well if the artist is a mum looking to make a quick squid or two or a hobbyist artist who just wants to photograph or paint in their free time of course they are going to be cheaper but are they really going to be producing the same quality and consistency for decades to come? Also you find artists with a real powerful why through a life experience are more dedicated and passionate about their art. Their why could also affect how they give back to the community and donate money. For example so far to date I have raised money with my art for Lyme Disease Action, and currently a percentage of the artwork sold from Holmfirth Art Week will go to Macmillan Cancer.)

Start an Art Collection

Purely for decorative and enjoyment purposes with maybe a little return on what you paid for the artwork to begin with.

Become an Art Speculator

Invest in art from new artists which you believe will increase in value when the artist hits their peak approx 10-15 years.

How to start an Art Collection and become an Art speculator.

I have grouped these two together as they cross over a lot and many people that want to start an Art Collection for enjoyment would love to make an investment from their collection too.

  1. To start an art collection pick a theme, style or genre. Choose landscapes or portraits or chinese art or the colour blue make your choice something you are really interested in after all you are going to be looking at these artworks everyday for most of the day. Choose a medium like photography, acrylic, oil, pastel, sculpture.
  2. Make one piece your ultimate investment piece or the one big piece that you really couldn’t live without. Choose your additions to suit your main artwork. Showcase it in your favourite spot in your home
    (make sure it is being stored properly you don’t want it in high humidity and near any damp or changes in the environment.)
  3. Keep to one or two artists.
  4. You probably want to invest approx 10% of your investment fund into art.
    (Your financial advisor can advise you on what money to put where after all they are paid to give expert guidance. You want to spend as much as you possibly can afford to on more expensive artwork but not too much that you don’t have the money in case the artwork doesn’t pay back what you are wanting back.)
  5. A few statistics for you from various online reliable sources. Investment artwork like limited editions with very few available can bring a return on investment of 10%. On average you are likely to see an annual return of investment of about 6%. The risk free return is realistically around the 0.04 according to the sharpe ratio for art.
  6. Being an Art speculator instead of an Art Investor means you can buy more affordable artwork from new and upcoming artists and then sell the art on when the artists hits their prime approx 10-15 years depending. If you are solely wanting to invest in artwork and have no emotional value to your art collection you want to see the next section as it is more decades until your return is valuable and you can pass it on to your kids and grandkids.
  7. Buy art not in fashion but not too out of style that it will never come back in fashion.
  8. When you start an art collection only buy art that you actually really love. Nothing in art investment is risk free or secure and even if you don’t get more money than what you paid for it at least the artwork made you happy throughout your life.
  9. Enjoy building your collection. Enjoy buying your artwork. Enjoy each day looking at your artwork. Remember the thoughts that the art reminds you of. Reminisce back to that time in your life that the art reminds you of.
how to start an art collection

Become an Art Investor

Purely investment purchases. Buying already valuable art for a lower price with the intention of selling the artwork on for more profit than you bought it for.

Please take this following section as a guide only. If you are serious about becoming a true Art Investor you need to be seeking guidance from a current Art dealer or advisor. Someone who is working the Art industry right now day in day out and keeping up with the trends. Also be careful as some dealers are only in it to make the sale too so do your research and find a good expert.

  1. Pick a theme and genre. i.e. Landscapes and photography.
  2. Set your budget. Stick to it.
  3. Find a storage option for your collection. Normally pure investment pieces are wrapped and stored professionally until ready to sell on in 15 years to a decade.
  4. Have contacts in the art world.
  5. Have an art dealer for expert advice and options to buy.
  6. Review your collection regularly.
  7. Sell artwork when they peak and become fashionable.
  8. Lay on your bed surrounded in your profit from your art collection as you retire and enjoy the rest of your life.


I hop you enjoyed learning how to get started with your Art Collection. I can’t wait to hear about your collection and your choices.
If you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I will definitely get back to you as soon as I can.

I would also love to hear about your investment purchases and if you have already established a collection whether you are getting return on investment and how long it has taken too.

how to start an art collection
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