Own It: Free Advice on How To Buy Art from 5 Up and Coming Collectors

Jul 19, 2013 6:35PM

In a recent panel at Christie’s, Saara Pritchard, head of the First Open sale Post-War and Contemporary Art sat down with advisor Nilani Trent, Artsy CEO Carter Cleveland, artist Ernesto Caivano and Lehmann Maupin partner Carla Camacho to discuss how to own a piece of art. (First insider tip: Owning one piece makes you a “collector.”) Not only do these international players see a growing audience for buying art from $400 to $4 million but they all say, it’s never been easier to start a collection. Here are their tips:

Embrace impulsivity

“I know it can seem intimidating, but…when people come in and you have an interaction with the public who may not know about an artist, it’s always exciting to educate them and potentially have a new client.” –Carla Camacho

“Sometimes things happen very quickly and instinctually and…sometimes it’s a years-long conversation.” –Nilani Trent

 “Trust yourself and trust your instincts.” –Saara Pritchard

“There is so much more to be gained by transparency than lost.” –Ernesto Caivano


Ignore investment advice

 “A lot of the dangers…is when a collector looks at an artwork purely clinically, like a financial object, something that you can buy low and sell high. And that usually works out badly, for everyone involved.” –Carter Cleveland

“Don’t worry about the price point. Train your eye. When your connoisseurship about art is strong…you’ll catch Michelene Thomas before she becomes at 50, 60 or $100,000 artist.” –Nilani Trent


Define what matters, to you

“I like to think of [art] almost as like a visual dividend that pays off over time.” –Carter Cleveland

“Maybe you can’t buy the biggest painting, but maybe you can buy a small work that you really, really love and that is a great representation of [the artist’s] work.” –Nilani Trent


Be available

“You make mistakes when you first start collecting… People start at Point A and they end up all the way at the other end of the spectrum, because they have seen so much more. The contemporary art world will just open up to them in ways they couldn’t anticipate.” –Nilani Trent


Get intimate with the work or artist

 “Art is fundamentally about the in-person experience.” –Carter Cleveland

“You need to get to know the person, or people behind [the art]. And that tends to develop over time…it’s sort of like a relationship.” –Ernesto Caivano

“The most important thing for a young collector is to establish a relationship with the gallery.” –Nilani Trent

“I find the auction house previews to be such a really great learning tool.” –Carla Camacho

“In many cases, you can do a studio visit.” –Carter Cleveland


Express yourself + take risks

“People that are starting to collect now, they’re going to have a whole different variety of culture that they’re associating with.” –Ernesto Caivano

 “People that are buying video art now, in 20 years their collections are going to be looked at as being really ahead of the game.” –Carla Camacho

“Art’s value is only as much as people love it, and as much as they relate to it…” –Carter Cleveland