The Art of Collecting Art

- Tuesday, August 02, 2016

I kicked-off last weekend by doing one of my favorite things, going to an art opening. I always enjoy going to them. Sure, the wine and nibbles and chatter with neighbors adds to the fun, but discovering new artists or seeing the latest works of an established one is thrilling for me. The visual stimulation can be inspiring for my design work and occasionally I come home with a new treasure for myself or for a client.

I, like you, am lucky to live in a part of the country with an active arts community. Between SCAD in downtown Savannah and the numerous artists here in the Lowcountry, we are surrounded by a vast network of galleries and exhibit spaces brimming with beautiful creations for us to peruse and purchase.

Over the years I have amassed a diverse collection of paintings, photographs, prints, and sculpture. Some were created by dear friends (one of the many bonuses of going to art school), some by artists I have met in my professional life, and some purchased at galleries or galas or on-line. I even have a few gleaned from estate sales. While a few pieces have been somewhat expensive, most of the others have been a relative bargain in cost. I have always bought art that I liked and that spoke to me in some way or another. Just like with antiques, regardless of the provenance, if it does not please my eyes I am not going to put it in my living room. I am thrilled if a piece in my collection goes up in value but I have never bought art solely as an investment.

I am often asked by clients, friends, and family for advice on building an art collection. It seems many folks are somewhat overwhelmed by the whole process. It shouldn't be intimidating at all. Collecting art for one's own enjoyment should be fun and bring you pleasure. Hopefully I can share a few tips with you to help in the process of 

First and foremost, I strongly feel that you should buy a piece of art because you like it. Art should speak to you, make you smile, or in some way be provocative. Why would you want to buy some generic print from a big box store when there is so much original work readily available at relatively reasonable prices. That prime wall space above your sofa deserves something special and meaningful to you.

Art doesn't necessarily have to match the sofa in the great room or the duvet on your bed. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with coordinating the decor of a room around a favorite piece, or pieces. I am always thrilled when a client shows me a treasured piece of art and wants to build a room around it. Sometimes I take inspiration from the color palette, sometimes it is the mood of the piece I want to evoke.

If you like to travel, consider buying a piece from a locale you visit on vacation. Years ago while in Granada, I purchased a beautiful little watercolor of a Moorish-style arched doorway. Though small in scale, the piece packs a punch with its vibrant hues and a graphically detailed depiction of mosaic tiles. I carefully rolled it up and packed it in my carry-on for the trip home. Now matted and framed, it hangs on a wall in my bedroom. Each time I look at it I am reminded of the fantastic trip I had exploring the wonders southern Spain.

Have you ever considered commissioning a piece? It is probably easier than you think. And it doesn’t have to be a painting. There are photographers, sculptors, metal workers, and fiber artists around who would be more than happy to create a custom piece just for you. Clients in Berkeley Hall had local artist Rhonda Fantozzi make a custom iron gate for their wine room as well as a table base for their breakfast nook. Both pieces are true works of art.

So go out there and explore the art world. Don’t be afraid timid about amassing some artful, one-of-a-kind treasures for your home. Build a collection that is fun, personal, and makes you smile.

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