Curators Corner

5 Steps to Start Your Art Collection Today

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Starting your personal art collection can be challenging, but it shouldn’t be. Buying art can be exciting and it can also be an anxiety-inducing process. It is okay for new art collectors to worry about the pricing and be indecisive about the kind of art that they would like to start with. New art collectors also worry about navigating the art scene in order to find potential artists that would make collecting worth it.

Slimen Elkamel, ‘Searching for you’, 2022, Painting, Arylic on canvas, Galerie La La Lande
Slimen Elkamel, Searching for you, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 190 × 150 × 4 cm
Image courtesy of Artsy

Here are some of our best tips for new art collectors:

  1. Set a Budget

As exhilarating and satisfying as art collecting can be, it can also be an energy-consuming process if you are not certain of the kind of art that you want or the artist you would like to collect their work. Being uncertain about these things is okay as it means that you have to do more research on the art market. To narrow your search, it is important that you set a budget for your first piece. This will help you to understand the kind of art shows and exhibitions to attend, curators to reach out and artists you would be able to afford at the moment. The advice is always to start small in order to build your confidence as a first-time collector. 

Audrey Lyall, Who’s the Captain Now?,2021, Acrylic, oil pastel, collaged paper, fabric, rhinestones, pearls, ink, upholstery embellishment, ceramic stucco on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm
Image courtesy of 1-54
  1. Stay Curious

Curiosity is an important aspect of collecting. This is the time to see as much art as possible by visiting as many museums, art fairs, and galleries as you can. You can go on social media to find galleries or sites dedicated to art – like Art News Africa, Artsy, MoMA – as it is a good place to discover artists and their works. You can find out what exhibitions are open and the shows that will pique your interest. This will help you determine the subjects, mediums, and styles of art that may appeal to you before you start collecting. 

Arthur Francietta, Post•era, 2020, Acrylic, mixed media on Blueback Poster paper 120g, 190 x 130 cm 
Image courtesy of 1-54
  1. Know Your Source

You need to figure out if you will be buying straight from the artist, a gallery or an art consultant. It is important to be able to evaluate and predict the artist’s career especially if you are collecting for commercial purposes. If you are buying from the artist themselves or the gallery representing them, you need to ask questions about the artist and their work.

Lawrence Lemaoana, Fools multiply when Wise Men are Silent, 2019, Embroideries on Kanga, 157x117cm
Image courtesy of Afronova Gallery
  1. Research

Once you have figured out the kind of art you would like to start art collecting with, it is time for you to delve deeper into the art market. The best people to ask in the art market after the artist are the art world insiders like curators and art advisors. Research is also a reason why artists’ talks are important. It is possible that you might lose interest in the work if your interpretation of art and the artist’s story behind the work does not match. Proper research will get you proper information on the quality of materials used in creating the work and how sustainable and lasting the work would be. By now, you should know why you want to collect the artist’s work. 

Tola Wewe, 2005
Image courtesy of Art News Africa Collection
  1. Finally, Check out all Your Options!

By creating and displaying its own collection, the Art News Africa Collection is the ANA platform’s explicit commitment to supporting African artists. Additional options include Christie’s, Sotheby’s & Phillips

It might take time to discover which artists or types of work that will interest you but remember to have fun as you go. Art collecting is fun!


Iyanuoluwa Adenle is a graduate of Linguistics and African Languages from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a creative writer and art enthusiast with publications in several journals. She is a writer at Art News Africa.

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