Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Do you collect art? Are you an 'art collector'?

I spy a spider (framed £340)
12" x 8", coloured pencils
available from Llewellyn Alexander Galleries
SOFA Annual Exhibition 2008
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

A new Making A Mark Poll starts today in the side column of this blog. It's the other side of the equation. This one's not about selling art, it's about collecting art.

The question is "Do you collect art?" and the options are as follows:
  • Yes, I have 'a collection'
  • Yes, I've started to collect
  • I want to but not sure how
  • I want to but can't afford to
  • Not right now, maybe one day
  • No, I don't collect anything
  • No, I only produce art
This poll partly stems from a curious fact which I've been intrigued by for quite some time. I've noticed that for some reason when artists talk to other artists they appear to sometimes forget that artists also like art......

......and what do people who like art do?

They collect art!

In other words, a number of artists collect art as well as make art. The artists we talk to every day might also be the people who buy our art - or buy other people's art. I do know that some people sell their own art to fund their art collecting habit!

Polly (framed £220)
9" x 6, pen and ink and coloured pencils
available from Llewellyn Alexander Galleries
SOFA Annual Exhibition 2008
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm also sure that many other artists are "would be collectors", but various reasons hold them back. These might be to do with anything from not having enough left in the budget to not knowing how to go about starting a collection to just not getting round to it!

I'm going to take advantage of the fact that artists are also collectors to ask people who read this blog to give us some sort of idea about the level of interest in collecting and the extent to which artists are also collectors. Hence the Poll question - Do you collect art?

In other words is it a few or some artists who collect art or do most artists collect or want to collect art?

That's just for starters - as at some point I want to tackle some more interesting questions - such as:
  • Would knowing the extent to which artists also collect art influence how we, as artists go about the business of marketing and selling their art. (For example, do you need a gallery to sell to another artist? How does having a blog affect whether or not you purchase art?)
One Way Stretch (framed £250)
pen and ink and coloured pencil
available from Llewellyn Alexander Galleries
SOFA Annual Exhibition 2008
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • Do people barter their art? I actually know this happens - but I'd like to know more about how common this is and something about how people reach a view about relative values (eg 3 of my drawings = 2 of your paintings)
  • Why do people collect? There's lots of possible reasons - if you're a collector what's yours?
  • What sort of art do people collect - in terms of media? For example is it art in the same media they use - but the artist is more accomplished than they are. Or is it artwork made using completely different media. Or does none of this matter at all - and people just buy what appeals to them - within budget of course!
  • What makes it "a collection"? Do you only collect (or aim to collect) certain subjects - or maybe paintings within a colour range - or is it the person who collects the art the unifying factor?
  • What changes people from thinking about collecting - to wanting to collect - to actually buying that first piece?
  • What changes you from being a person who buys an occasional piece of art into "an art collector"?
So lots of scope for future discussion. If you have any comments or views please use the comments function - I'm always really interested to hear what people think.

Meanwhile, I'm going to brave the rain today and go to the Private View and official opening of the 14th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Feline Artists at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery. This is an exhibition which always has one of the most avid bunch of collectors that exists anywhere, anytime, any place - people who like cats! More about the exhibition tomorrow!

PS. This was the exhibition which generated my post about How to mat and frame your artwork. So - what do you think of the result?

  1. This is how to add a poll to a Blogger Blog
  2. You can see larger versions of the images of the cat drawings in Feline Art on my website.
  3. 14th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Feline Artists at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery


  1. Do you mean only original art or do prints count? I have prints by Spencer Tart
    and if I could afford to collect his orignals I would! So that answers the question about media - I tend to like watercolours which I don't use myself. I think I'm very fussy when it comes to drawings because I can see how much or how little effort and skill has gone into them (I love I Spy A Spider btw!)! The big problem IMO is that artists would collect more art if they were paid more for their own art - most artists simply don't earn enough, so it's a catch 22 situation. Art is not treated as an important subject in schools so many people either don't think about buying art (unless it's a print from IKEA!) or don't respect it as a profession (in fact I read, a few days ago, an article about becoming a professional artist with the advice NOT to expect to earn a living from it!!) and if artists can't afford to buy then it will always be an uphill struggle. A lottery win would enable me to collect! ;) I know a few bloggers I'd love to buy from!

  2. I'd like to answer all your questions but probably won't remember them all. I love collecting art and I really don't have a lot of spare cash to fund my habit because we have so many mouths to feed so I tend to collect directly from blogs where one can pick up quality art at an affordable price. Several of my purchases have been spontaneous buys. A few weeks ago I found an artist I was previously unfamiliar with by following links on someone's blog - loved his loose style and the mood he captured; the price was also very reasonable so I bought it, just like that - the internet makes it so easy. I love it that I can buy art from so many places all over the world.

    I tend to buy oils probably because that is the medium I work in, but I also have a lovely watercolour and am currently watching the bidding on a pastel I came across yesterday. The works are always way better than mine and often something that I would like to aspire to.

    I collect because I enjoy having the art works to look at and it's a bit of an addiction really; once you have one or two then more makes your collection even more enjoyable to look at. I also really enjoy the feeling of supporting other artists. I'm realistic enough to know that I am never going to make it big time as an artist; I have my fingers in way too many pies - so I get a lot of vicarious satisfaction out of watching other artists do well and if I've played even a small part in their journey by buying one of their early works - well that's a really nice feeling.

  3. Great questions! As a 'collector' I've always been curious if other artists collect too! Most I know here do. I find that original art is within even my grasp, but admit that while I will find a way to find £100 for a painting I buy little else in terms of material goods (DVDs, CDs, books, knick knacks, clothes, housey things, gadgets). My collection used to be bigger and slightly more impressive but unfortunately I had to sell most of my works of any value when my first massive tax bill hit. Not that I regret it, these things come and go. But I lost a Terry Frost print and a Dave McKean photo both that I loved.

    Now most of my collection is small pieces as I rebuild. A few local artists who are becoming known, a couple gifted to me, and others from further afield. As well as artists I just like, I admit I also choose emerging artists I know personally who are gaining reputation and well-known artists who are late in their lives (printmakers especially since work can still be affordable). But *only* if I like the work. It's my attempt at something that could be a retirement fund at the moment.

    I sort of like everything and have realism, abstract, impressionist; figures, landscapes, still lives; paintings, collages, drawings, printmaking and digital art. Nothing I have is even remotely like my own work - I'm drawn to artists who work very differently than I do.

    I've only done one trade of art for art; it's something I find a bit too sensitive to approach. But I have happily done a couple trades for computer work (I did the computer work) and have a fine jeweller interested in a trade which I'm very keen on. But like felicity says, I don't earn enough to trade very often as I need the cash. ;)

    I don't know how I started really, or why. Just that I like it. :) Now you realise I'm going to go buy a piece on Etsy that I've been wanting, right? At least I can blame you this time. (just let me, okay? it's another collage by Brandi Strickland)

  4. I LOVE your cat paintings. The "spider" and "stretch" pieces are so perfect -- I see those all the time with my two. The colors and details and softness are really great. And the framing is so beautifully and artfully done. I think I like the framing/matting as much as the art itself. Thanks for sharing these.

    As to collecting, I collect art books, clips from magazines and the web. But when it comes to spending money on art, my budget only permits paying for art supplies, rather than finished works by others. I also like hanging my own work so that when I'm feeling like I can't paint, I'm reminded that I DO make decent work from time to time.

  5. Interesting. And finding out the the majority of those voting do, in fact, have a collection!

  6. yes I do collect :>) I don't have much money so I've swapped work with friends, bought lino prints and etchings by others I know at open studios and have been given some works.

    Like Tina, it's usually very different from my own work and always something I love.

    It would make an interesting blog post showing them :>)

  7. I buy art when I can, which isn't as often as I can. Like most, finances don't stretch as far as they'd like and when I do make enough money from my own art, something else comes along with its hand out waiting for it!

    I love illustrational work and blog sales are definitely a good way to find treasures at reasonable prices.

    Prints are fine, but I prefer originals, even if its a very small piece.

  8. I collect miniature art. But mine are acquired in trades. ATCs postcards, and up to 5x7 inches. All originals, many, many mediums, and from all over the world.

  9. I've collected art for years, pieces that speak to me somehow but not any particular style or medium. I own oils, acrylics, fiberart, assemblage, collage, and jewelry. With the exception of two large pieces I know all the artists and buy their work because I like it and want to support them. I don't put non-original work on my walls. However, I've nearly stopped collecting because I want to hang my own work since visitors to my home are always asking if I did this or that piece and I want to say yes. What better gallery than your own walls if you want your visitors to know you and your work better?

  10. I collect small originals - small because of my budget, and also space issues. I tend to collect work from just a few artists who I feel a connection to in some way. Why did I start? I fell in love with an ACEO and *had* to have it :-)

  11. I collect art too! I have not purchased any piece or print yet, but I have a huge collection of art from ATC trades, postcards etc.

  12. Hi Katherine,
    I wanted to post a response earlier but it’s been a hectic week. I collect art work mainly because I love works that are beautiful or evocative or thought provoking. This particular question of yours caught my eye:
    • What changes you from being a person who buys an occasional piece of art into "an art collector"?
    Probably the change for me was how I began to actually look at art once I realized I could afford smaller works of art. I did understand that I needed to learn how to ‘collect art’ because I wanted to minimize my mistakes. I am a great fan of learning from someone else’s mistakes. When I first started buying art I stumbled across Gregory Peterson (www.petersoncollection.org) and his collection and Gregory was kind enough to help me develop a focus in my collection.

    Collection Statement:

    I collect realistic (contemporary realism) by living artists. Primarily the works I am interested in centers on emerging artists with figurative work as a primary focus.

    The above statement is the guideline to help me focus on what to purchase-is not ironclad rule. I also have works by artists Robert Liberace (figure), Duane Keiser (still life), Michelle Tully (figure, still life, & landscape) and Peter Holbrook (landscape) but my collections primary focus is the figure. A collection statement will help you decide which direction to take your collection as well as help you winnow through which works of art to purchase.

    I collect emerging artists as a way to provide support to them and to help them make a living at what they do. Their work has to move me and inspire me, make me think or sometimes simply make me salivate with envy (“I wish I could paint like that!”). If I look at it once and think, “nice” it’s not for me. An added bonus is that artwork by emerging artists tends to be within my budget versus someone who is well established. Speaking of, if you plan on collecting art recommend you have a separate savings account or fund for buying art. Never buy what you can not afford.

    Most of the paintings I purchase are smaller sized which makes them far more affordable for me. For example, Peter Holbrook’s large-scale landscapes are gorgeous but they begin selling for $12,000 and up. There is absolutely no way I could afford this; however buying his smaller studies (which are very reasonable) is within reach.

    As far as which media, I am all over the map on this as well, usually it’s oil paintings or drawings (pen &ink or pencil), but I also have some glass and clay works as well as some things in metal and wood or ivory.

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions,

  13. Cindy - thanks for the very helpful answers

    In fact thanks to everyone for the very extensive comments on this post

    I'm going to try and do an analysis of any common themes and also identify any useful pointers when the poll finishes at the end of the month

  14. I am an Artist and yes, I am an Art Collector as well. I collect art because to me it is like a time capsule of creation and work that is a joy for years to come. The artists are like a magician who create, contemplate, compose and paint their inner most thoughts on canvas that is so exciting to see which never could have existed otherwise. In the past I was interested in collecting "Realistic" art which just by looking at one can see was done with careful detail and good finish. However, as of 2007 I am collecting "Expressionistic" art which uses colors and concepts to express what cannot be expressed via camera. In other words the style is still representational but the artwork looks like a "human" creation not a "photograph". I have spent thousands of hard earned dollars collecting "Original Museum Quality Art". I buy it, I frame it and then I hang it in my house. I like supporting Artists, I like to encourage them and help them any way I can so they continue to create great works of art that would otherwise not exist. My artwork too is collected by a few Art Lovers but they are not artists themselves. My house practically looks like a Museum. I can even e-mail you the pictures of the Artwork I have collected over the years. I believe in "VERTICAL" buying artwork as opposed to Horizontal. That means buying from the same artists over and over again instead of buying from a lot of artists. This way I have 5 or 6 pieces of each artist's artwork. I have roughly 5 artists whom I have befriended and whose work I "invest" in. I hate looking at bare walls - it disturbs me not to have my walls decorated with not just pretty paintings but paintings that I could not walk away from. I grew up in a house where all the walls of my house were covered with artwork created by my father. All the Artists whose work I collect happen to be Females and reside in USA. I have collected over 30+ pieces of Original work since 2005. I feel blessed to be able to support my very expensive addiction of collecting art and also creating art.


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