How to build an art collection for your home with 6 accessible tips
Collecting art for your home can be a rich and rewarding experience, but how do you kick-start the journey?
Leading art expert Kate Higginson, director of Print Club London, shares her advice on curating a distinctive and inspiring collection for your space.
Story by Catherine Caines
The art industry is booming, with social media attracting a new audience of collectors discovering the industry via their smartphones.
Whereas 20 years ago, there were many barriers to entry, now savvy art enthusiasts and galleries, engaged and informed by Instagram, have changed the rules of collecting.
Leading the charge is @printclublondon, which champions the democratisation of art collecting. Arlo & Jacob spoke to its director Kate Higginson about how to take kick-start the journey.
Image Credit: gallery wall curated by @doesmybumlook40
1. Is it part of the collecting journey to understand the craft and technique behind an art work?
Some people aren't aware that it’s an original print, and when they come to the site looking at very visual images, they aren't aware of the process behind it, i.e., that a person prints it by hand in a studio. They like it because of the image, but when they realise there’s a process behind the format we work in, they become much more engaged. And it's much more accessible now to start being a collector and 20 years ago it was not that achievable for many people. It wasn't even something people would consider, but now people are much more invested in what they are buying because they are interested in the artists and the opportunity to create their own little collections.
We have customers who are monetarily aware of their art collection because we sell emerging artists with the idea that they will grow. Therefore, what you are buying potentially is an investment. I do think that a group of our buyers consider it like that. But I also think most people are interested in supporting artists and starting to build their collection of originals.
Image credit: Jacqueline Colley’s ‘New York City’ (Photo + Print - @jacquelinecolley) and represented by Print Club London.
2. What do you believe are the new points of entry for discovery artists?
Many of our new audience are coming from social media, and that's the area we've grown the most. We promote the studios, and that's what engages people if they see what's happening. We post about the studios and show the artists, and I think that's what engages people, and that's what they like.
Image credit: artwork featured above by Dave Buonaguidi and Lucy Mahon from Print Club London
3. Is it about building up confidence and using social media as a tool of empowerment and information?
It makes it much more democratic, and my husband set the company (Print Club London) up intending to make art democratic and accessible because it shouldn't be elitist.
Many people are too nervous about going into a gallery and asking the price of something, whereas having something on a website is evident. When it's not so expensive, it's not so scary. We sell stuff that's a few hundred pounds up to a thousand, but you can buy something for 50 quid, and it's not as frightening that first investment. Salaries aren't always huge, and it's still something that you are investing in and that you will put on your wall at a financial cost, so making the prices visible helps and takes away the mystery of it all compared to a gallery.
4. Once you buy your first piece how do you start building from there?
It's nice to have a real mix of mediums of paintings and sculptures, and ceramics. Sculptures are an area people shy away from, and they shouldn't because you can get small pieces and significant pieces. I find that I love them in my house and having something that's not flat on my wall is excellent.
Image Credit above: Cornwall print by Dave Buonaguidi seen here @artistresidence
5. What's the most affordable way to start a collection?
Buying a screen print is the first one because it's affordable, and we find once customers understand the process behind the image, they start investing in paintings or smaller items with a higher value. People don't have tons of room in their house, and so many people buy based on the reality that most of us who live in the city have smaller houses, so I think buying screen prints is an excellent way to start. When we started Print Club London, some 13 years ago, most people didn't know much about screen printing, and we have seen more pick up this last year of people buying online.
6. Where do you find exciting art? What are some of the best places to find it?
I tend to get it from all different places, and I have lots of screen prints in our house, but then I buy from artists that I follow on Instagram, and I buy directly from them.
During the lockdown, there was the Artist's Pledge, and you could buy paintings for 200 quid that would typically be a lot more money, and I bought a few of those as I thought it was a great initiative. It opened doors for artists to meet their audiences, and it broke down the barriers that before felt a bit scary.
We always say visiting degree shows because we are supporting graduates, and you can get some fascinating stuff at quite affordable price points, so that's an excellent way to build your work. Also, we stage exhibitions, and people come to our shows.
Image Credit: Wales is always a good idea by Dave Buonaguidi available from Print Club London and photographed inside the beautiful home of @thebowmont