I believe most people like the idea of surrounding themselves with beautiful and attractive things. I’ve written several posts on collecting art but many of the artist I love or have discussed (e.g., Robert Liberace, Annie Dover, Duane Keiser -his larger works, Leo Neufeld, Sonya Skarloff, et al.) may be out of the reach of most budgets.
I started buying artwork several years ago, I was-and still am- on a shoestring budget. I initially bought only what I loved and could afford but I had no idea how to go about selecting what to buy. I was fortunate enough to start an email conversation with Gregory Peterson of NYC who is an avid contemporary art collector. Throughout our correspondence, he was very helpful explaining how he went about buying art and building his extensive collection.
What I found was that if you want a larger or more expensive work, most galleries will work with you by allowing you to make credit card payments (usually three or four automatic ones) and once it’s paid for, they ship it to you or you pick it up. Mostly it depends on the gallery and your relationship with them or how much they want to sell that particular work.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be shy about telling them what you can afford. In fact, if you don’t tell them honestly what your price range is, it’s doubtful they can steer you towards work you are confortable about purchasing, I strongly recommend that you never buy work you can’t afford (i.e., don’t say you have to have something so you use your rent money). Gregory suggested starting a savings account to use for your art purchases. I think it’s a wonderful idea but I am simply not that disciplined I guess. So, I am writing this post to help those of you who, like me, love art but are on a limited budget.
Attend as many openings and art shows as you can. Many museums have lecture series to teach members and the general public about different types of art. Often times very well known artists will give presentations about their work, inspiration, and motivation in conjunction with the opening of a show. In addition, there are many galleries who who court new collectors and provide venues where a collector can learn more.
For example the Arlington Virginia Arts Center will host a “Collector’s Talk.” which features well known DC area collectors such as Tony and Heather Podesta, Phillip Barlow and Philippa Hughes. These individuals will discuss their collections on 8 March at 4:30. They are well known for their impressive and extensive collections, in fact they have co-curated a show which features each unique collection.
I recently attended a lecture by Paige West (click here to read my the blog post) at the Corcoran Museum, in Washington DC. Paige West owns the Mixed Greens Gallery in NYC. She discussed collecting contemporary art and talked about who was at the apex (read super hot and super expensive) and those who were up and coming as well. She also made some recommendations on places to shop for art that is relatively inexpensive, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
A common theme for many lectures and panel discussions about collecitng art is urging folks to consider limited edition fine art prints (lithography, monotypes etc versus greenwich village workshop type genre) and photographs. The contemporary prints and photographs by emerging artists and even some well known artist are usually not as expensive as oil paintings. But they are still not inexpensive.
I’ve also found that many inexpensive works are by either emerging artists or established artists who are selling smaller works. This is the group that I focus on.
There are some phenomenal sources available for purchasing great quality relatively inexpensive art (say $20 – $500) and one that I know of that is even FREE.
Recommended inexpensive sources are etsy.com, Daily Painters, 20×200, Tiny Showcase, and Cinders. The free one is the Fine Art Adpotion Network (FAAN). Both Tiny Showcase and 20×200 place new works at their site on Tuesdays and 20×200 also places works on their sites on Wednesdays as well. Daily painters work is self explanatory.
How they work
Etsy.com-features handmade art, accessories, crafts, beautiful and funky furniture, ceramics and books. A great article that gives a far more in-depth explaination about etsy can be found at the Real Simple magazine. According to their website mission statement
“Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice….”
A great example of the type of art you can purchase at etsy is the work sold by the Los Angeles artist The Mincing Mockingbird. This guy’s paintings are hysterical and really well done and very inexpensive at $40 for a 6×6″ work. I found this artist through a link at Decor8’s great design blog. Here is an example of one from the Mincing Mockingbird’s store, the title is too funny. The second print, based on a watercolor, is by Desert Canyon.
Whiskers The Cat Strikes Terror In The Hearts Of The Residents Of The Lilac, by the Mincing Mockingbird
Almost Squash Time, Desert Canyon
Poppytalk Handmade. According to their site, Poppytalk Handmade is a monthly virtual/online street market to showcase, buy and sell handmade goods of emerging design talent from around the world. They have some amazing work that is very reasonable.
20×200 –20×200 is the brain child of Jen Beckman. The site places two new works per week at their site, one photo and one work on paper. They offer the work in three editions based upon size; the smaller the work, the larger the edition. The largest edition (200) is the smallest size available and is sold for $20, there is also a medium size (edition of 20) sold for $200 and a larger sized edition (edition of 2) which sells for about $2000. The goal of the site is to make art high quality affordable art available to everyone.
Daily Painters Gallery-is a juried gallery of daily painting artist. According to the site, the gallery was founded by artist Micah Condon in 2006 and has over 20,000 paintings available. I have found the work to be extremely varied. There are only a few artists whose work really appeals to me there but it’s mainly a matter of personal taste. Kim Roberti is one artist at the Daily Painters Gallery whose work I like (I own one of her paintings). Many of the paintings begin around $35 and go up from there. It takes time to browse here but once you find someone whose work you like you can click on the link to their gallery and find additional works there. I believe I paid around $35-40 for this adorable Kim Roberti oil painting.
Cinders Gallery – is located in Brooklyn, NY. According to their site, Cinders Gallery focuses on drawings but sells other handmade objects as well. Their goals is to sell affordable art to average person.
Fine Art Adoption Network. There are a variety of mediums available for adoption at FAAN: sculpture, paintings, drawings, photography and even installation work. FAAN’s stated goal is to create an online network
…which uses a gift economy to connect artists and potential collectors. All of the artworks on view are available for adoption. This means acquiring an artwork without purchasing it, through an arrangement between the artist and collector. Our goal is to help increase and diversify the population of art owners and to offer artists new means for engaging their audience.
How FAAN works, you view the available works and then you decide which works to apply to adopt. Make no mistake it is an adoption process, you apply for it by answering questions about yourself and why you should be the owner of the work. Some artwork has no strings attached and some have conditions for adoption (e.g., the artist wants it framed or displayed a certain way). There are some wonderful contemporary works here and it’s definitely worth attempting. I haven’t had any luck but I’ve only applied to adopt two works in the past. I liked this one so much that I applied to adopt it and I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Subway Sidewalk by Peggy Cyphers
This is an example of a recent painting up for adoption at FAAN.
Trying to sort through the art available at can be an effort worthy of Hercules. The best thing I can recommend is that you find someone whose work you love adn who uses eBay to sell their works (such as Duane Keiser, and Neil Hollingsworth). As always with eBay, shop the seller and not the product…that means make sure the seller has as close to 100& positive feedback as they can get.
I usually look at the following artists at eBay Karin Jurick, Duane Keiser, Neil Hollingsworth, and Michelle Tully. Speaking of Michelle Tully and Duane Keiser. Michelle sells work by herself, Tim Stolz and occasionally other artist (Tony Ryder for one) through their eBay store. Michelle and Tim Stolz run the Studio Escalier in France. According to the site, they use the
…proceeds go to help our young scholarship students in France, who come to our art school from all over the world. (North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.)
I’ve written several posts about artist Duane Keiser which can be found throughout my blog. Suffice it to say that Duane started the Painting A Day movement and his smaller works are sold through his eBay store. Depending on subject matter (eggs, food items, and floral seem to go for between $350-$500) some of his other subjects a little lower. He also sells very tiny paintings (usually 2.5″x3″) he calls oddments at his site for $100. He only puts the oddments up occasionally so you need to check his site daily if you’re interested.
I will go ahead and post this for now, I expect to do several edits before I am happy with it. If you have another source for art that you love which is under $400 or $500 dollars please let me know via a comment.