At a certain point, the stars start to arrange into constellations. This can be the experience of art collectors who, maybe four, five or six works deep, suddenly notice a trend – a shape to their collection that they didn’t set out to carve. Rather than prescriptive, this shape is akin to a personality, a reflection of the interests and temperaments of the person who forged it. 

While every approach to collecting is different, there are some broad frameworks through which you can start to conceptualise how collections are developed. Whether you’re seeking to understand your own style or wanting to evolve from an art buyer to a collector, here is our taxonomy on the four approaches to collecting: horizontal; vertical; crossover; and niche.

 Robert Jacks - 'Untitled (Autumnal Grid)'

Horizontal Collecting

Horizontal collecting sees a collector acquire art from across the board, engaging with a wide array of artists, time periods, genres, movements and mediums. This approach is about buying what resonates with you, allowing your own aesthetic narrative to reveal itself over time. Horizontal collectors know what they like and want to see it all. 

Robert Jacks - 'Lake Eyre Garden'

Vertical Collecting 

From across let’s now go up. Like its name suggests, the Vertical Collector delves deeply into a single era or select group, like ROAR Studios or The Field. A focused approach, vertical collecting allows a collector to thoroughly explore what interests them most, gaining insight into an era or group’s creative evolution and cultural significance.

Both advocates and fans, a real life example of vertical collecting lies with Australian art collectors Andrew King and Sandra Powell who have amassed an impressive collection of contemporary street art. 


David Larwill - 'Bob Won't Mind'

Crossover Approach 

The Crossover Collector combines elements of horizontal and vertical collecting. You might focus on a particular theme or concept while still incorporating a variety of styles, mediums and artists. Maybe it’s self portraits by famous Australians that intrigue you. 

An example of a crossover collector in the public sector is the Shepparton Museum of Art, which specialises in Australian ceramic art. While some are bright, some are muted, some abstract and some functional, all are ceramic. 

Niche Approach  

Niche Collectors, even more so than their vertical compatriots, specialise. These collectors hone in on a very specific subset within a category, collecting only from a certain period in an artist’s oeuvre like, for example Eric Thake Christmas cards. Whatever strikes their fancy, these collectors are on the hunt for the rare and revealing, building a singular collection. 


Eric Thake 'Nuns on the Geelong Road'


Niche collectors are rare but not unheard of. A collector who recently visited us focuses exclusively on Lionel Lindsay’s woodcuts of birds and cats. He is an expert on this corner of Australian art history with perhaps the country’s best private holding.

Lionel Lindsay 'The Witch' (Collected)