Should you Collect Contemporary Art?

Posted by Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya on

There is a lot more to buying art than simply recognizing major artists and knowing what you like. The art collection is always personal - it tells a lot about your personality and your interests. When you find a work of art that speaks to you and stays interesting, you’ve found the real thing! 

There are so many questions rising to mind when we talk about art collecting:

What to buy?
Where to buy?
When to start?
Who to ask?
What style to buy?
Focus on well-known artists or emerging artists?
How to afford art?
Collect for money or for pleasure? 

My list of questions can go on and on, as we all at some point in our lives think about buying art for our home or office or as a gift. A lot of people get lost as there are so many artists and galleries that sell works by local and international established and emerging artists for any taste and budget. 

  1. Many people start collecting by buying prints. If there is no signature or number on the print – it’s cheaper. If you see a number and signature – that means that it is a limited edition print and an X amount of prints are available for purchase. Some artists make a small number of prints like 10, others make more money from selling prints than original works and have editions of 50 or 99. 

  2. If you want to purchase art, but not sure how it will look like in your space – map it out on the wall with duck tape and see if it’s too big or too small in size for the wall.

  3. When you buy art, look at artists’ careers, years of practice, what galleries exhibited their works, did artists have any public commissions or only private ones? All of the above adds value.

  4. See art as an object you love and less as a piece of investment. You have to live with it unless you store it in your storage.

  5. When people collect art, some want to demonstrate their art history knowledge, others buy using their own instincts and personal taste while the third group buys only what is “trendy” or “on-demand.” It’s a personal choice. 



The desire to surround ourselves with things that comfort, please, or excite our sensibilities is a common human trait. 

You don’t need art education to start a collection. 

You don’t need a lot of money – art is available at any price level. 


Define collection by subject matter (portraits, animals, etc.), by media (photographs, acrylic, oil, etc.), by period (contemporary art, etc.). 

Oil Paint is composed of colours made from minerals ground into a powder and then mixed with oils. 

Acrylic is a permanent, fast-drying painting medium made of pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. It can resemble oil or watercolour depending on how it is modified. 

Watercolours are pigments suspended in water solution and applied to paper. The colours are luminescent and most often translucent. 

Gouache is composed of a high ratio of colour pigment. It produces a smooth surface, and with layering, vivid colours. It is used almost exclusively on paper. 



  • Start small and buy something original that sticks you fancy. 

  • Think about how art will fit into your home. Buying art for your home means that you will live with it every day - select works that please your eye. 

  • Make the Market, Don’t Follow It. Rather than paying attention to what others are buying, follow your instincts and be ready for others to start talking about what you are buying. Buy five great works by mid-career local artists. Artists will love you for this. 

  • Commission Something. Consider commissioning works of art. It can be risky, but the results can be thrilling. 

    Contemporary art allows collectors to experiment with a wide range of mediums, from more traditional art forms such as painting to newer and more experimental mediums or those with multiple editions like prints or photography, are often at much lower price points, making it is easier for a collector to experiment without incurring a significant financial loss. 


How to determine the value of art? 

You need to find answers to the below questions: 

  • How many people are interested in this artist and work, is he/she a well-known creator in your city and globally?

  • Does he/she have a high level of technical skills and a unique style? 

  • Image - Beautiful? Striking? Memorable? 

  • Rarity - How many copies? (one of a kind painting/limited edition print or not?). 

  • Condition - no rips, scratches, fading, or fold marks. 

  • Printing process (photography) - C-prints and platinum prints are more stable than others. Made by the photographer (if they oversaw and approved the final print = authentic print).

  • Materials - Gallery Wrapped Canvas/Paper (a fine print)? 

  • Does the artist have an influential dealer, curator, or critic promoting 

  • Does the artist have an influential dealer, curator, or critic promoting his/her work? 

  • Any reviews in regional & international publications? 

*All of this can usually be found by requesting artists’ bios and artist statements from the gallery. 


Pricing based on the artist career level:

✨$100-$1000 - emerging artist

✨$1,000 - $10,000 - more established, mid-career artist

✨$10,000 - $100,000 - established well-known contemporary artists showing today. 

It’s very important to follow your instincts! Read, see, listen, and learn through buying art. 



Art is an essential component of a modern home. Art informs the mood. You can tell a lot about somebody by the books they read and you can do the same by looking at the paintings on their walls. Guests like to walk around a home and look at the art and ask questions about it. Where did you get it? What’s it about? Who painted it? What does it mean? 

💥Always buy art that you love. Find a painting or sculpture that speaks to you or moves you in some way.

💥When choosing a piece of wall art to be a focal point for your space, the most important consideration is the size. An artwork that is too small will get dwarfed by the surrounding furniture and a piece that is too big will look as though it is spilling over. 

💥Take great care where you hang it and hang it at the right height. The horizon line should be at an average height eye level. When in doubt, always hang it lower rather than higher.

Wall art is that finishing element that can help pull a space together and make it feel complete. It is that little extra touch that can take your space from simply looking functional to appearing as if it should grace the pages of an interior design magazine. 


Collecting Art is a Passion. 

Living with good art is special. Its feeling doesn’t wave and it can bring joy every day! 


If you want to read more about art collecting, check out these resources:

  • Collecting Art for Love, Money and More by Ethan Wagner and Thea W. Wagner.

  • Art Collecting Today: Market Insights for Everyone Passionate about Art by Doug Woodham.

  • Collecting Art for Pleasure and Profit by Harvey Manes.

  • The Art of Buying Art: How to evaluate and buy art like a professional collector by Alan Bamberger.

  • Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market by Noah Horowitz.

  • The Value of Art: Money, Power, Beauty by Michael Findlay

  • A Poor Collector’s Guide to Buying Great Art by Erling Kagge

  • A Buyer’s Guide to Prints by Helen Rosslyn

Newer Post →