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What advice do I have on how to build your own art collection? Different and certainly useful for you too! Not everyone who collects art is just a collector. No, I’m not crazy. What I mean is that a collector is someone who buys primarily for the love of the item and for the love of how that item fits within the group of works he or she already owns. I’m Clelia and today I suggest you how to create your art collection little by little, also focusing on emerging artists. 

1. BUDGET – Tips on how to create an art collection

The first thing you have to keep in mind if you want to buy an object and I think it applies not only to art but to any form of collecting is the budget. You don’t have to be an American, Russian or Chinese business person to be able to buy art. And above all to be able to know, appreciate and promote the art we like. So the first piece of advice I would like to give you is to start your collection by setting aside every month, every year, every day some money that you know is destined for one or more works of art.

My experience – annual budget of €1,000

For example, for a couple of years I have given myself €1,000 a year to buy unique or multiple works of art Last year I spent almost the entire budget on just a multiple of a historicized Italian artist whom I have known and loved for a long time and who is part of my small collection. This year, however, since I’ve been shooting less, I’ve decided not to spend the budget and to postpone until next year to get one or more works by emerging artists. But the idea of ​​having an amount earned by me, which allows me to buy and promote the art that I also want to own, makes me calm in my spending. 

2. THEME – Advice on how to create an art collection

Over time I have had the good fortune, especially in the years when I lived in Milan, to meet and associate with various Italian artists. I also received gifts from a couple in particular for birthdays or special events and here I come to my second point. A collection represents us, whether it is therefore a collection given solely by our interest or by the relationships of friendship, acquaintance or work that we build, in any case each work that is part of it has a specific meaning for us. At the same time, however, each collection also represents our specific interests. My second advice therefore is to buy works based on a theme, a movement, an artist or a period that particularly appeals to us.

Why create a thematic art collection?

for several reasons. Let’s start from the most romantic motivation: being surrounded by works that tell a story to each other and are linked by a common thread brings us even closer to the works themselves and makes us know and promote them. Let’s now move on to the economic reason: being specialized from the point of view of knowing the market of an artist, a theme or a period helps us to buy at the best price and in the future, if we have changed our mind about that work, also to resell a better price. And then to build a coherent collection that has a unique meaning and increases the value of the single work because it is surrounded by its companions.

My Cattolica professor and his thematic collection

One of my Cattolica professors, for example, was obsessed with white and according to him his entire collection consisted of white pieces by Italian artists of the twentieth century. He went around galleries, fairs and I also found him in the auctions of the bridge in Milan and he focused on white works of the twentieth century and by Italian artists. He knew all the colors and some artists he had even known them. He was passionate about the period, the white color probably made him feel good and he bought and resold at the right price because he had developed his knowledge. 

3. KNOWLEDGE – Advice on how to build an art collection

And this knowledge also applies to the next tip I give you to start building your own small collection. The best way to start is to get to know the artist. By this I don’t mean that you have to spend your budget buying the work of your relative, the son of the accountant or the janitor. What I mean by knowing the artist, whether living or emerging, is knowing what drives him to create his works.

So reading interviews, going to presentations of his work, to the inauguration. Know the reasons why he creates these works, how he creates them, what his reference galleries are, what awards he has won, if he has a website. All this is very important because you are buying one of his creations, you must know to be in tune. And then obviously you have to continue even once you have decided to invest in this artist to promote his work. you are having dinner with friends and you are chatting about something else, you say you have just made the purchase, you show the site. Let the work and the artist into your life. I’m sure that having spent your time, your money and your curiosity, it will be natural for you to want to know more, to tell and stay up to date.

4. WHERE TO BUY – Tips on how to build an art collection

And then the next tip. Where can you buy a work of art? A work of art can be bought in a gallery, at a fair, online, from a private collector and in many other places. For the first works of emerging artists my suggestion is and always will be to go to the studio. It’s not that difficult. You may have noticed an artist at a fair, for example at the Affordable art fair or on Instagram or on a recommendation from a friend. So sending an email and asking if it’s possible to have a coffee and visit the studio even if you won’t buy immediately may be the best move.

First time in an artist’s studio

My first time I was terrified, and I wasn’t even the one with the budget. I was just accompanying a friend. And the absurdity is that I was terrified even though I worked in an artist’s studio and knew how natural it was to receive that kind of request. So I suggest you go without wasting the artist’s time, ready to listen to what he has to say and genuinely curious about his work and his idea of ​​the world. If you are interested, you must also be ready to ask how much the works cost and if it is possible to buy them from him or in the gallery. Furthermore, in these times when it is not possible to physically go to the studio, I am sure that with a little imagination and ingenuity something similar can also be organized online.

I personally have several regrets about visits to the studio in which I let some time go by and the work I wanted was sold to a gallery owner or went up so much in price that I was no longer able to buy it.

5. CONSERVATION – Advice on how to create an art collection

On those occasions, there were a couple of reasons why I hadn’t bought the works. And they depended only on me. The first was the fact that I still hadn’t set aside a budget for my collection. The second was that I still didn’t know exactly what I liked and what I didn’t. Because I went from multiples of street artists very rich in elements to unique, therefore unnumbered, minimalist and conceptual works. So a bit like the personal style in presenting oneself or in dressing I hadn’t yet figured out what my personal style as a collector was.

But the most important thing that held me back when I was in Italy is that I never had the space to keep the works. In the only house in Milan where I was able to collect and exhibit my current collection, it always seemed that there was no room for anything else. And instead in the current one there is far too much space because the collection has remained largely in Italy and for now has not yet come as in England. So this advice of mine is to think about the spaces and costs of conservation of your works. Especially in a world like ours where we often travel for work, out of necessity. Before buying a work it is essential to think about the spaces in the house to exhibit it, the transport costs and the methods of conservation. 

6. ARCHIVING – Advice on how to create an art collection

Finally, the last advice I give you comes from my attention to historical documents and experience in an artist’s archive. Every time you buy a work from a private collector, at a gallery, at a fair, at an auction, keep all the documents. And by this I mean: the authentication signed by the artist if alive, not by a third party. The purchase receipt. Documentation on pre-purchase and post-purchase exposures when it comes to your loans. And if you have the possibility, contact the archive or the foundation or simply the artist’s studio and give your name and surname, email address and the work you have in your collection to be included in their database. 

I’m the first to be bad at this thing, so I preach well and sometimes scratch badly, honestly. But it’s important! Keep all the documents relating to the purchase because they will be essential over time. 


These are my top six tips for building your collection. As always they are based on my experience so if you have any ideas to share let me know on Instagram or passing by Youtube. And if you liked the post, take a look at the other themed ones Art market here on the blog. 

Thanks and see you next time! 

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