Ahead of Could Have, Would Have, Should Have’s December 2016 release in the U.S. (coinciding with Art Basel in Miami Beach), we caught up with Atencio to learn the most important lessons for new collectors—and how to tell when you’ve crossed over from an art-buyer to a true collector.
What New Collectors Need to Know
“Collectors starting out should know that it is important that a collection is personal and should not follow fashion,” Atencio advises. “It should be the expression of a personal moment, a cultural moment, a social moment.” In order to do this, she advises that new collectors do their research, visiting art fairs and museums alike. Once you’re ready to buy a work, she notes, you should be knowledgeable of that artist—including their sales records and auction results—before trying to make a purchase. If you have limited time for this research and your finances allow, Atencio suggests working with an art consultant. “When I started out, I was very fortunate to have a great deal of time to devote to doing research and visiting museums. But many people these days don’t have time to do what I did.”
Also crucial to building a collection, she says, is fostering relationships within the wider art community, including with dealers, collectors, curators, museum professionals, and artists. “I always feel that along with the art itself, I am collecting relationships and it is the information that I take from my peers that helps inform my decisions as a collector,” she explains. Atencio advises those who are new to collecting to become involved in museums through patrons groups (like the Young Collectors Council at the Guggenheim or the Tate Patrons program). There are some cases, though, she notes, where relationships can only take you so far; like when there’s great competition around an artist’s work. “If there is a work of an artist that you really want and if it is difficult to get it through the dealer that you have a friendship with, go to the dealer who represents the artist in another country, where there may not be as much competition,” she suggests.