ART CONFIDENTIAL Part 5 – Calling Yourself a Collector November 27 2019

Many people interested in buying original art are intimidated by the art world and don’t know where to turn for guidance. Art Confidential is a 5-part guide for new art buyers. The series is written to assist new art buyers in building a foundation and a starting point for an art buying adventure that will lead to a lifetime of enjoyment and, if you’re lucky, obsession.

Written by Kelly Juhasz, Fine Art Appraisal and Services

Originally published in Distillery District Magazine, January 2020, Vol. 44  

ART CONFIDENTIAL – 5-Part Guide for New Art Buyers

I vividly remember my first purchase of fine art as every collector does.

In discussion with a few art collectors, some serious and known, others who turned out to be shy to call themselves collectors, there were some definite common threads.

Most collected stuff as a kid. That made me think back and I realized, so did I. Some said they collected stamps, others coins, postcards, hockey cards and even bottlecaps. Mine was cups and saucers. Yes, it’s true. I loved them and it turned out that my passion in my early teens never left. That early “collection” lead me to learning about Japanese Export Porcelain which today is still on display in my living room.

Others, who have amassed a collection, were artists themselves. They traded or were gifted works by other artists while studying or attending workshops together while building their careers and developing their signature styles. Some supported each other at art sales and at smaller events. They gave works as gifts or exchange for other services. As these artists were picked up by galleries and secured museum exhibitions, their work became recognized and eventually, collectible. When I asked an artist who has a house full of work by other artists, she said, “Oh I’m not sure I would call myself a collector, maybe an “accidental collector.” 

Some collectors started buying paintings at yard sales as decoration and then began to get more interested in researching their newly acquired treasures. This was an inexpensive way to learn as well as an adventure to see what they might find next.

Inheritance was another way collections were started or continued. As the next generation were gifted works of art, they became the new custodians whose interests developed and evolved. Some of these new caretakers grew up surrounded by these objects of fine art and were witness to purchasing, learning and caring for fine art from a young age.

However one begins, here are some of the reasons why people collect:

  • joy of the pursuit of finding something interesting or the love of procuring;
  • health benefits tied to the relief of stress and taking one’s mind off work or other irritants;
  • obsession and the need to continuously acquire (it’s a fine line sometimes between collecting and hoarding but that’s another article);
  • investment and financial gain in both selling work at a profit and the future tax benefits of donating artwork to a charity;
  • pursuit of knowledge and continuing education about art, history, creative techniques and markets;
  • community building as getting involved in the fine art world increases social bonds between people with shared interests;
  • social recognition gained from sharing one’s collection with the public;
  • legacy creation to extend one’s influence in perpetuity;
  • communication of a message or point of view to persuade others by harnessing the power of art;
  • connect with the past or create affiliations with notable people or events; and
  • it’s a fun hobby.

Not everyone has to acquire a museum-worthy collection of art to call themselves a collector.

The shift from these early hobbies to developing a more targeted purchase of fine art develops over time and it’s never too late to start. We think of hobbies as things we do that bring us pleasure in our leisure time. Collecting is a hobby and when taken more seriously can enrich lives, and as such, you can now call yourself a collector.

Oh, and my first purchase twenty-four years ago, a Gathie Falk print titled “The White Dress.” It still brings me joy each time I look at it.

Kelly Juhasz is an art advisor and a qualified appraiser specializing in fine art and antiques and an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers. She is the principal at Fine Art Appraisal and Services offering artist legacy services, collection management, estate planning for treasure assets, sales services and Canadian Cultural Property appraisals.