How to Start Your Art Collection Without Budget

by | Oct 9, 2015


When it comes to collecting art many young professionals are intimated. The newspapers and websites are filled with crazy, dreamingly prices of art. That kind of price makes collecting art a dream for people who earn a modest salary and a hobby for millionaires and billionaires. But this image does not necessarily reflect reality. Why? Because in reality, many people started their own collection with are works that cost $1,500 or less.

So how can it be that one can buy a good piece of art for just $1,500 or less? This is because artists started their career the same way that everyone else did – – they don’t earn +10k immediately for their art. You might be surprised that galleries, even high-end ones, sell the work of young and emerging artists. These artists don’t have their names built up enough to earn 100K+ per piece of art. I’m quite positive that in your local galleries you will be able to find that some specialize in young and emerging artists and sell works for $1000$ or less. While big collectors go for the big names, you as a new art collector can focus on the young artists.

Like in starting your own business there is no better time than today to start your art collection. You can start by buying artworks; however, I want to offer you a different way to start your own collection. Something that you all have, that you all have invested in and you are all familiar with – your talent.

What do I mean by starting your own collection with your talent?

Well, if you are financially limited these days why not consider using a different type of currency to start a collection? Why not use your time, knowledge, and skills? If you are a business professional you might be working as a financial consultant, marketing specialist, strategy professional, or even business mentor. Many of the artists that I know are lacking these exact business skills – they focus on creating their art but not on promoting themselves and selling their work. There are examples of dentists or lawyers that build an impressive art collection by being paid in the form of paintings instead of money; so why not use your skills to work with young artists at the beginning of their career and help them with the business aspect?

This is going back to basics. Exchange of goods without the use of money – Burning Man style. You provide the artist with the business skills they are lacking, the artist provides you with a beautiful, challenging, exciting piece of art, and the best part…. while doing so you start to learn about the art world.


So how do you start? Like many things in the business world – research. Start by browsing galleries’ websites and online catalogs; see art you like and that appeal to you. That’s, in my opinion, most important because you will learn and develop your personal taste – don’t buy because it’s affordable, but because you like it. Collect with passion; collecting art involves many risks and the big majority of artists won’t make it to the top, so you better feel good with what you have. Research prices to estimate what is the value of young and emerging artists; for this task, you can visit local galleries specializing in young artists, ask artists for their prices or visit online services such as Artsy, Artnet, or Art Price.

This experience will allow you to develop not only your collection but also your knowledge. Art education is an ongoing process. Working with artists will expose you to new artists and trends, and will allow you to get insights from the artists about their works. It will allow you to get involved in the art world and to learn from the professionals: artists, art historians, curators, collectors, gallery personnel, and other informed art people. Speaking with the professionals in the art world will allow you to learn the market and of course will help you to understand what makes a work of art a great one and what makes an artist an influential one.

But before you are going out there looking for your artist-partner, make sure you articulate what you can offer to the artists and how it will help them. Think about presentation skills, financial analysis, legal services, budgeting, negotiations, strategy, video editing, or marketing, these are just a few topics you can think about.

In case you are an entrepreneur who wants to collect art, remember the Facebook case? When David Choe took stock instead of cash for painting the walls of Facebook’s first office he never imagined that his stock will be worth $200 million. So offering stocks can be a good option as well.

So now that you have some new options to start your own collection how you can find artists that might be interested in this exchange?

Art schools – go to art schools in your city, meet the “about to graduate” students. Speak with them and get to know them. Present yourself and your goals and learn from them and more important LISTEN to them

Ask Friends and Family – Every one of us has a friend or a friend of a friend that is an artist. Ask them what they think about your offering and if they might be interested. If they aren’t interested, ask if they have other friends that might be interested – NETWORK!

Publish on Professionals Groups for artists via Linkedin, Facebook, and other social networks – promote your services. Publish on websites for swapping and bartering goods and services like,, and others (check here the Guardian’s top 10 swap websites)

Art Events – go to gallery openings, art fairs, and public art events, go to the favorite bars and cafes of artists. Sit with them, get to know them to mingle, and network.

Join Art Communities – there are many art communities for young professionals, I myself started one here in Madrid. Many times these communities organize meetings with artists so it can be a great opportunity to meet them.

So, the road to start a collection is much easier than what people normally think. It can be a complex world but if you listen, learn and develop you will build your own guide to the art world. Let me know what you think if you have your own ideas to start a collection. Share with me these ideas by sending an email to [email protected]


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