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Last spring, I moved into a gorgeous apartment around the corner from Carnegie Hall in New York City (with a now ex-boyfriend). The apartment itself was quite captivating: French doors that opened from the foyer into a grand living room with a fireplace and original pre-war details. While my ex took the responsibility of furnishing the rooms, I had the wonderful task of curating the art that would adorn our space. While I’ve dreamt of a private collection filled with Miros, Rothkos, and Alberses, my 20-something bank account snapped me back into reality.
Where to begin looking for affordable original art then? I surely graduated from the museum prints that I had collected while in college but wasn’t necessarily ready to have a stake in the art that surpassed four digits. As someone who grew up around and loving art, I was also struck with the obstacle of being a little picky. Luckily, however, I found a handful of online sources that helped bring the white walls of my apartment to life.
Before You Begin Buying, Figure Out What Kind of Art You Like
Getting a sense of your own taste in art is a simple task that is complex in execution. I like to think that there are three types of collectors, and perhaps it is helpful to identify which one you are.
The first collects for market value and investments. These are your oil tycoons and hotel heiresses who are often participating in the big auctions at Sotheby's and Christie’s. The second collects art purely for the aesthetics of the home. What I mean by this is that some people collect art that matches their home’s, say, color palette. It’s not really about liking the art, and more about making sure the art creates a cohesive look to one’s home. And, last but not least, there’s the art collector who simply chooses pieces that they truly love. When I worked at a small art gallery in the West Village while in college, my manager always told clients “art you love will always work in a home.”
When it comes to beginning your collection, Ian Malone, A New York City-based magazine editor and art collector, thinks that baby steps are key. “Start with works on paper as they are obviously more affordable but often just as effective as larger works,” he says. “I treasure drawings by John Singer Sargent and Ernst Meissonier— artists whose paintings I would never be able to afford.”
There are two true keys to establishing your taste and desire for art: get educated in it and expose yourself to more. Once you know what’s out there, it’s easier for you to recognize which art keeps your interests locked and belongs in your home.
“Study the canon whilst remaining receptive and hungry for the new,” Malone says.
For those who love to shop all things new, now, and nostalgic, 1st Dibs is the holy grail for finding art. The collection is vast and ever-changing from contemporary works to sculpture and more. Even those who have a knack for photography may find that a large selection is available to them at hand. Consider this large figurative abstract piece ($3,420) for a living room. Begin a gallery wall with this original (1961) figurative piece by Pierre Longchamp ($409.95) with this giclee print on fine art paper by Richard Yarde next to it ($1,000). If you’re looking to go big, this painting by Ewelina Makosa is a no-brainer ($6,143). Like many Rothko paintings, there’s serenity found in simplicity here.
As an art and fashion writer, there’s no better feeling than discovering young emerging talent. Saatchi Art is a marketplace where young artists are exhibited, championed, and found. It is a wonderful entry point for young art collectors and enthusiasts, and the site is extremely easy to navigate as it divides the art by type and price. For surrealist lovers, Molecular Ecstasy by Heather Goodwind ($920) is a whimsical drawing that may easily standalone or next to L'insostenibile leggerezza dell'essere Drawing by Jessica Rimondi ($370). Either way, these two fantastical pieces are sure to be a conversation-starter. The photography selection at Saatchi Art is among the premiere, with work like Kutho series by Andrea Alkalay ($2,310) who plays with photography through collage work, and Comfort Zone by Tadao Cern ($395) who finds the beauty in the mundane.
If you’re not ready to buy original art, trying to fill up some space temporarily, or looking for a wonderful gift for a loved one, Society6 has you covered. Here, you’ll find a plethora of quirky prints that are playful and crafty. That way, your home may be adorned with beautiful pieces without breaking the bank or worrying about upkeep. How about a gorgeous abstract print of bubbles, or ‘Cosmic Fruit’ ($24)? If you’re looking for a good laugh, I especially love this photography print of a group of gossiping nuns indulging in a cigarette ($16) and this one of a posh victorian woman being not-so posh. ($28).
There are a lot of art galleries in the world, but not enough time to visit them all. Thankfully, Artsy sort of cures these woes. Designed as a central hub where galleries, collectors, and artists from all over the world may sell, this digital disruptor is truly a one-stop shop for those looking to find beautiful and original art. For those who love a bit of color and warped geometry, might I suggest Nueordnung by German artist Cigdem Aky ($4,986.77-$7,527.75)? Or, indulge in this pensive portrait by Belgium’s rising star, Shirley Villavicencio Pizango who shows across the Atlantic such as the Steven Turner Gallery in Los Angeles. Her Matisse and Picasso flair are surely not to be overlooked, and her pieces will certainly add warmth to the rooms they find a home in.
Geared specifically for the “next generation of collectors,” Uprise Gallery specializes in up-and-coming contemporary artists while catering to art collectors both old and new. I like to think of it as the stepping stone into the big leagues. The site has an arsenal of well-trained advisors who are ready to help you make decisions for art in your home and workspace free of charge (truly unheard of!). For the minimalist who does need a bit of decoration, Light Totem 28 by Christina Watka ($725) is an ideal piece to add a bit of texture to your neutral-colored room. But, say your appetite is for something a bit more colorful. For collage lovers, Walking The Edge of a Dream by Xochi Solis ($600) is a surrealist masterpiece for a beginning collector. With its multiple layers and vast colors, the piece is one that has something new to be discovered every time that it is looked at.
Though the road to art collecting may seem like a long one, it certainly doesn’t have to be a daunting one. These five art buying sources cater to all sorts of tastes, needs, and price points. 1st Dibs excels in all forms of design and may seduce you to buy a couch or lamp that may compliment the art piece you settle on. Saatchi Art and Uprise Art are ideal for new artists and collectors, while Artsy offers the world’s best galleries in one place. Finally, for those who aren’t ready to break the bank just yet, Society6 has an endless supply of quirky prints. Regardless of which route you choose to take, remember: art collecting should be fun and, above all, feel personal. Let the white walls of your new home finally feel illustrious.