8 Tips For Getting Your Art Collection Started

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The walls of my home are bare. Though I own some art, very few pieces are hung; most of what I own leans against the wall. I've been thinking that not only should I commit to actually hanging the things that I have, but that I should think more seriously about collecting art and how it can enhance my home. But where to begin? I sat down with Eli Weisman, founder of the online art auction house QArt, to pick his brain about starting an art collection and how to use art to enhance your decor. Here are his tips:

Start with a budget: While you don't need a lot of cash to start an art collection, it does require that you figure out how much you feel comfortable spending. If you're thinking about a long range collection, it's a good idea to set aside a small amount of money every month, maybe even start a special savings account with funds earmarked for your new hobby. QArt has auctions starting at $1 every evening from 5 - 9 pm, where things might sell for a little as $50, and the prices on many of their things start at well under $1000.

Buy what you like: Ignore the art speak and trust your gut. Educate yourself by going to galleries and museums, reading art magazines and blogs, and attending the art fairs at the schools near you, and read up on the artists that you're interested in.

Go for quality: While, unlike me, you may be eager to get something up on your bare walls, be patient and wait for things that you really love. If you must have something to hang up right away, don't be afraid to fill your space with personal stuff. Rather than going for the generic, surround yourself with pieces you love — your kid's art, blow ups of your favorite photographs, stuff created by your friends, and favorite movie posters — as placeholders until something else comes along. Start with the posts in this category and this category.

Don't skimp on framing: A good frame not only sets off a piece of art to its best advantage, but also preserves it from environmental damage such as sun and dust. Develop a relationship with a good framer whose eye you trust, whose style you like and who uses materials like acid-free mats and UV protectant plexiglass that will keep your piece safe and in good condition for years to come.

Learn about the artists: Find out about the artists that you are purchasing from. Qart has bios of all of the artists that they represent. (Bonus: one artist will often lead you to others).

Check for authenticity: Make sure that you're getting the "real deal". Many pieces will come with a certificate of authenticity, and some limited edition pieces will be numbered and hand signed by the artist themselves.

Build your collection: It's often the first step that's the hardest to take. Once you've bought your first piece, build your collection slowly while teaching yourself about art.

Using art to enhance your decor: True, my apartment, with its light colors and bare white walls, can be taken in any number of directions when it comes to choosing art. Personally, I'm leaning towards this one, this one and this one.

For more on QArt, click here.

(Image credits: Andrea Sparacio)