a primer to anyone new in the game

Collecting and storing art

Collectors are like squirrels around nuts, and their nutty compulsion is all about finding and storing. Sounds simple at first, but it turns out that even that is an art in its own right.

If you’ve just been bitten by the bug of collecting art, there is a steep and enjoyable learning curve ahead of you. E.g. How art is being valued and priced is one of the great mysteries. Another attribution and authenticy. The online advice you might find is not to spend money until you have looked around at art fairs and galleries for a couple of years.

Fat chance of that ever happening

Listen, my own private hallway is a testament to the fact that it is impossible to look for this long without buying. My walls are literally plastered with poorly researched art of little expert collectible merit. And the very fact makes me smile every day. The pieces have obviously been acquired with my heart – and what a big heart I must have had – and what a great deal I’ve learned since then.

But there are idiot proof ways to begin collecting

A good way to get genuine art on the wall, without putting too much money at stake, is to buy graphic works. Limited edition prints from established artists rarely fail in terms of visual impact and investment made. The fact that it is produced in multiple copies also means that the price is a fraction of the one-off pieces. If money matters, look out for the numbers. It is all tickidi-boo when you obtain the first copy of a first edition limited to 7 copies. But it is far less interesting to own the 150th of a a third edition of 1000. Even less desireable is an ‘open’ and unsigned edition.

If on paper — frame it

Not all easel art could or should be framed. But more often than not it ought to be. Have your graphic work framed. Paper is a fragile medium. It can turn yellow over time just because the paper pulb used happens to contain acid. Moreover, what’s on the paper easily fades when exposed to direct sunlight. Some serious collectors store art of various media in specialised storage facilities with the right humitidy, temperature and atmospheric pressure. The rest of us display art in our own habitat. I.e. the very place where art creates a real impact on our lives.

Anywhere out of direct sunlight is good for all things paperish. Think hallways here, and then you can display canvas art in your living room, say. Just stay clear of electric heaters. Those bizare anachronisms – from before the advent of under-floor-heating – dry out paintings. Right above radiators, temperatures fluctuate and that is also bad for any art on display.

For sadists, kitchens and bathrooms are the only suitable storage areas for art

Be adventurous within reason

Art made of alternative materials tends to be cheaper than paintings. Think here art made of ceramics, epoxy resins, plexiglass, or porcelain. They’re often fabulous value for money and add an exciting if not exotic touch to your collection. Some actually thrive in trouble spots such as kitchens and bathrooms – without you worrying whether you’ve become a sadist.

Haggle until they throw you out – politely

Seriously, when you have found a work that you love, consider all prices as ‘guiding’ only. Everything is negotiable. Art is by no means sacred — and that even if society increasingly thinks of it as a new religion. Just know when to let go to avoid being a pest and you can’t have too much situation awarenss. You see for the really desirable collectibles, there is a waiting list to buy. In that league, you might as well lay off your charms and negotiation skills.