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What Makes a Good Art Collector (3 things)

From an artist's perspective, here are 3 things that make a good art collector.


People wandering around the art sho Tacoma in Seattle featuring Amy Lewis' oil paintings.

photo by Jana Early

#1 Art Collectors that Support the Artist

Support can take many forms. It can be as simple as staying in touch. It can be a gut punch to know that I've lost connection to a collector (and therefore lost connection to that piece of artwork).


Support may also look like:

  • Sending the artist's work to other people who may enjoy the work or talking about the art in your home and sharing the artist's info if someone loves the piece you have.

  • Go to the artist's shows

  • If you're a collector who is plugged into the "art scene", sending opportunities that may be a good fit for the artist

  • Respond to their emails/social media posts

  • Leave a review

  • Buy more work


#2 Art Collectors that Take Care of the Work

Sometimes I wonder whether my collected work has ever been dusted. Once a piece is sold, it's in the care of the collector. I'm happy to come dust off a painting or do needed restoration. But in reality, I've never had anyone ask for help caring for their paintings . I just hope they are being well cared for.


A couple things I recommend:

  • Don't display the piece where it will be in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Varnish and UV protective glass will help protect the art but the sun is strong and it isn't always enough to protect the art from fading/sun damage.

  • Unless the painting is behind glass, I don't recommend putting your art collection in the kitchen. There is a lot of grease in a kitchen and that will make a sticky film on your paintings

  • I also don't recommend storing your original art pieces in the bathroom. I can't speak to canvas works. But work on paper or wood will warp over time with all that moisture. (I decorate my bathroom with prints and photos)

  • Use a very soft large paint brush to dust off the painting (every 6 month ish)

  • If you move, wrap up your paintings! Google some videos about how to do it properly to avoid damaging your pieces


#3 Art Collecting out of love not prestige

There are real financial reasons to invest in fine art. There are also prestigious reasons to collect art. No judgment against money or prestige. But when you really love a piece of artwork that is when you'll get the greatest joy from that piece and from your collection. Also, when you collect out of love then you will do #1 and #2 naturally.


Art is not just an investment, something to brag about to your friends or something to cover the walls. Fine art can feed your soul and enrich your life. So choose work that makes you feel like you can't live without it.


Testimony from one of my collectors:

One of my collectors is so wonderful at supporting me. She took the time to answer a few questions I had about art collecting from a collector's perspective.


What made you collect Fine Dining?

I’m a feelings person. I always have been and I always will be. And that’s why I collect art. There are some people who are impacted by their physical environments, I am one of them. When I first saw Amy’s work, I instantly smiled. And I knew that every time I looked at her work, specifically Fine Dining I would always smile. It wasn’t just a surface smile, it was a smile down into my soul. Like, “Oh this is breathtakingly beautiful, and oh it's so clever to juxtapose donuts with such a serious style, and Oh the meaning of giving from what you have, and seeing the goodness that you have, then sharing it,” all of those feelings bubbled up and each time I saw that painting they’d be there. 


1. What does it feel like when you buy art?

So, I’m not an art collector. Well, I am now, but I wasn’t. It all started when I got married. My husband loves art. We’ve actually had a few arguments over buying art instead of you know, a bed frame or what some might call necessities. And I think the beauty of it is art is a necessity. 


We now each save for pieces we love, but also each year on our anniversary we get some sort of art. Sometimes it’s a painting, sometimes it’s pottery or a sculpture. Sometimes it’s from a place we’ve traveled to and sometimes it’s from a friend or an artist we’ve been following. 


The pieces often have meaning from that time in our lives. My favorite example is a piece we bought during the pandemic. Joel had had his eye on this gallery for a while, and we found a woodblock print from a Japanese artist (Joel’s half Japanese). The print was of a crowd and two people going in the opposite direction. And it was just a good reminder for us that our lives wouldn’t necessarily look like everyone else but we’d always be going in the same direction together (and that’s a good thing to remember in life, because sometimes I forget we’re on the same team, or I worry that our life looks so different to what I’d expected. But it’s beautiful.) 


So, how does it feel to buy art? Sometimes it feels frivolous or unwise. It often takes a gulp and a quick check, yes this is where we want to spend our money. And it always feels special. We’re investing in someone who creates, and we love creators! We’re buying something unique. It’s exciting. It’s like finding treasure. It’s so many different feelings. 


 2. How has purchasing art worked for you- do you prefer emailing the artist directly/ in a gallery or have you ever purchased an original off an artists website?

I’ve actually done all of the above. I love getting to see it displayed in a gallery, but I prefer working directly with an artist. I love to talk to them about the piece. Why they made it and what makes it special?  


 3. Are there other things you consider when buying art (or is it purely aesthetic and cost?) 

Maybe this is, do we look at art as an investment? No. It’s simply finding pieces we love. If the artist blows up, that’s exciting for them, we want them to succeed. And I mean yea, I’m looking forward to the day my original Amy Lewis is valued at $80,000 (to me it’s priceless). 

I think reminders of moments. As I mentioned, anniversaries, traveling, and buying pieces from friends (who’s work we love and we want to support). 


4. Looking back at what you've collected so far, do you see a common theme of how the artists presented themselves? (for instance: was it their personality that sealed the deal?, were they good story tellers?, did they show a lot of process videos?)


You know, Joel often finds the artists. And I don’t know how he finds them. We don’t always love the same things. So when something speaks to both of us, then we tend to pay a little more attention. 



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