art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Affordability

As part of this (informal) series, I want to explore some of the difficulties I see within the art world. These things aren’t obstacles, per se, but they can be challenging for people that are on the outside “looking in”. As I learn more and find myself exploring the business, historical, and aesthetic side of art, I can see the individual factors that make art collecting and the entire business of art frustrating and intimidating to the average person.

One of the biggest obstacles to pursuing either a career in or a collection of art is affordability. Prestigious disciplines and hobbies have always been cost prohibitive, and rightly so: this maintains the integrity, prestige and lucrative nature. But in these increasingly egalitarian times, the question remains: how can affordability be part of the art world while maintaining esteem?

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Le Jockey by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (uploaded by the Brooklyn Museum)

The best recommendation I can pose is this: start where you are. That applies no matter where you want to fit into within the art world. Instead of aiming to have a personal art collection on the level of the Louvre, new collectors that have less capital to invest should start where they are and purchase what they enjoy and can afford. People aspiring to be curators and consultants should start by educating themselves as affordably as possible: attend free or low-cost art courses (some of which can be done online), volunteer at a museum or gallery, or even purchase used art textbooks and read the material.

The key to avoiding overwhelm is to take it one step at a time.

There are some entities that are striving to make art more affordable. Educators like ALISON, Coursera and Saylor (especially the Saylor Legacy Courses) make art education affordable. Taking classes at local museums, galleries, art organizations, and community colleges is also another another way to obtain art knowledge at a low cost.

Entering the art collecting world need not be expensive. New collectors should seek out local artists that are talented but not yet famous. Being an “early adopter” often means securing wonderful artwork at an affordable price. Also, it’s important to support smaller artists that may one day become one of the big names in the art world.


Tahitian Woman by Paul Gauguin (uploaded by the Brooklyn Museum)

There are also companies that will finance the purchase of high dollar art. One of these is ArtMoney, a company that offers financing options for people that want to buy art. ArtMoney is currently affiliated with 500 galleries nationwide to help art appreciators acquire works of art that would normally be out of their budgets. Also, there are innovative artists that offer lease and lease-to-own option for interested parties. This allows collectors to enjoy the art of their choice on the terms that best suit them.

So there are always ways to navigate around issues of affordability. Many times, this means setting aside preconceived limitations and approaching a solution with a fresh perspective. By exploring unorthodox and less popular strategies, it’s possible to make any part of the art world affordable.

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