Collectors: How to find your art style

What is art style, and how does it guide successful collecting? We show that it is buying what you love, combined with the necessary education and due diligence, that leads to multi-faceted rewards of collecting art.

Carla Pohli - President, ArtRatio

Carla Pohli - President, ArtRatio

There’s a big difference between buying and collecting art.

Buying is a relatively unstructured activity.

Collecting? 

A long-term purposeful commitment.

Both thankfully involve buying what you like.

There are many ways to build an impressive art collection without breaking the bank. Herbert and Dorothy Vogel are probably the most famous examples of humble, dedicated collectors. 

Their collection guideline?

Buying only pieces they personally liked, which could be carried home on public transport, and displayed or stored in their one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side.

They eventually built a legacy, having amassed a collection of over 4,782 pieces of work while employed as civil servants in New York.

Young and established collectors today share a different approach. They consider the investment potential and collect differently to the likes of the Vogels, with pieces ranging from young, emerging artists to the blue-chip sector.

But there is a shared excitement about the arts – and importantly, about collecting from a very early stage of their lives. There are techniques to maximise value, as well as enjoyment and appreciation of that art, regardless of whether your collecting is serious or for fun.

Ultimately, in collecting, each work stands on its own individual strengths, at the same time as forming part of a meaningful grouping. But first, you have to find your Art Style.

Let’s Look Into What Art Style Is – And Why It Matters

In the visual arts, style is “a distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories”.

So art style helps you find what you relate to, develop personal preferences, and know what to look at, for both investment and aesthetic purposes.

The number of art styles is infinite, with the list of essential movements and styles from Abstract Expressionism to Zackenstil.

Too many to drill down into the respective styles themselves here, we ask the question :

What Does an Art Style Mean for Collectors?

Art can be a strong personal statement, making collecting a satisfying, subjective pursuit. It can be a powerful, wordless way to express yourself.

Anyone can find art they like in a huge array of subject matters, mediums and price ranges, but making your way through it all can be more than a little overwhelming.

There’s always a lot of noise around trends and what we think we’re supposed to like, but being true to yourself and your tastes is vital. Without personal taste and preferences, collections can be perceived as indistinguishable.

As a novice, buying what you like is the best way to buy.

With experience, the reasons for buying what you like become increasingly more sophisticated and purposeful.

A good place to start is by asking yourself questions like

“Why do I like the kind of art I buy?”

“Is it the subject matter, colours, techniques and representation?”

“Or the concepts, ideas, or themes embodied perhaps?”

Once you identify commonalities, you have a sort of collector art style “mission statement”, and you can refine your buying to focus on pieces that share them.

This is the foundation and very essence of effective collecting, where nothing is random or out of place.

Every piece belongs.

Get Yourself Educated

Completely immerse yourself in the art world, the variety of mediums, works and styles; visiting museums and galleries, and exploring online.

The more you see, the more you’ll identify what you enjoy – the themes, genres, and artists you are drawn towards.

This will kick-start you towards styles to start incorporating into your collection.

Take every opportunity to discuss art with as many experts as possible to form educated buying decisions.

Great collectors know just about everyone selling what they collect, and they stay on top of the market so they can be among the first to act.

Art as a Financial Asset

Art as a financial asset and investment vehicle offers significant financial and diversification benefits.

If a return on art investment is the primary driver for a collector, pieces are likely to be from mid-career or established artists with higher price levels.

In summary, the most important criteria is to first get what you love.

Develop your own taste and take your time.

It’s a personal journey of discovery, and to be connected to the work on a personal level is very important.

Next;

  • Educate yourself and find your style. Be informed and do the research.
  • Train your eyes by looking around you, seeking out quality.
  • Build relationships for access and insight.
  • Periodic reassessment of one’s style is a good idea too, with quality collections continuing to evolve.
  • Take your time. Being a collector is the role of a lifetime. Time is essential to build anything of quality.

How you do all these things well is what collecting is all about;

The epitome of controlled purposeful buying.

References

Style (visual arts): URL

The Most Famous Art Movements and Styles: URL

Different Art Styles: From Romanticism to Modernism: URL

Fight Inflation: Explore the Financial Side of Art & Luxury: URL

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