Here’s a fairytale from the art world. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, New York couple Herbert and Dorothy Vogel worked as a postal clerk and librarian. At night however, they would trawl art openings, diligently discovering and buying from who were then ‘no-name’ artists. Today, their collection is legendary, spanning Modernist icons like Sol LeWitt and Roy Lichtenstein.
In the absence of wealth, the Vogels honed their savviness. They proved that anyone can collect art, on any budget. With their spirit in heart, we’ve compiled some pointers for frugal art collectors. After all, the love of art has and will always be about more than money.
Consider the Medium.
Drawings, prints and fine art reproductions can be a rewarding avenue for savvy collectors. Generally less expensive than paintings, works on paper allow a collector to buy from famous artists without breaking their budget. Australian legend Charles Blackman, for instance, boasts a rich and extensive canon of prints and drawings.
Charles Blackman, 'Cats Claws'
Support emerging talent
Works by emerging artists are consistently more affordable than those by mid-career or established artists. Plus, new art is exciting! Supporting local talent can not only save you money, it can enrich your collecting experience. Who knows, ten years later you may find yourself at Melbourne’s hub for contemporary art, ACCA fondly remarking: “I knew him when he was just out of art school”.
Philippe Le Miere, 'Classic Wizard of Oz magic good witch of the Northern Aryans'
Only buy what you love.
This applies to all collectors, no matter your budget. And if buying art is a big decision, then it is especially important to ensure you love what you buy. Take time to engage with the work, the artist or your response to either. Your collection is a kind of self narration, so make the plot points poignant.
Work with your dealer.
We recommend cultivating relationships with those ‘in the know’. Get on the mailing list of dealers or galleries to keep track of what is being consigned or for sale. Let your dealer know what you are looking for.
Many of our clients most treasured pieces have been brokered using our consultancy services. When opportunity knocks and you need to find the money, consider helpful payment solutions, such as ArtMoney, AfterPay or lay-by.
Go With the Flow.
Like most things, our taste in art is constantly evolving. If you start out fascinated with small landscapes, then find yourself in love with contemporary portraiture there’s no harm in moving on. Art collectors have the rare ability to resell their collections and sometimes, make a profit. So, if your tastes have changed you can try reselling works to buy new ones. It’s the cycle of art.
Sokquon Tran, 'Tranquil Landscapes III'