Buying art isn’t just for big spenders — art collecting on a budget is more common and possible than you think! When considering purchasing art for the first time, there is no one right way to start. For many of us, the first dip into art collecting won’t be dropping money on a huge piece. We’ll typically start small, taking into consideration of budget and accessibility. How much can we spend right now? What might we be able to acquire in the future? Art collecting on a budget is easy if you know where to look. Keep reading for some tried-and-true tips for decking out your walls — no deep pockets required.
What to keep in mind when art collecting on a budget
Find your focus
One of the first steps to art collecting on a budget is understanding what you are looking for in new art. Is there one style you hope to stick with, or are you hoping to diversify your collection?
Check marketplaces online for new artists, as well searching on social media. Many artists have sites or stores where art can be bought and sometimes will field questions and sales through their social media.
Offline, attend gallery shows for debuting artists and see what new art and design catches your eye. Art auctions and estate sales are also great places to find previously loved pieces in great condition. Along the way, keep notes about what art styles you keep coming back to as you refine your search. Once you decide how to focus your art collecting, you’ll be that much closer to the perfect piece in your price range.
Calculate your art collecting budget
Figuring out just how much you can spend on art is crucial before making the first purchase. There are many factors involved in the hunt for art that may add up in price. Make sure you find the details on the piece that can affect the cost, such as the material, size, and more. Photography or prints may be more low-budget options, but don’t forget the cost of framing if you go that route. Factor in either professional framers or the cost of a frame into your budget before you start looking for the perfect piece to be displayed.
Once you’ve set your art collecting budget, filter out art in your hunt that is already outside your budget. This can help keep you focused on the pieces that are available to you at that moment — instead of getting your heart broken by falling in love with a piece you can’t afford!
Decide on a statement – or many!
When considering your budget, are you looking for one piece or many? Sometimes, one large statement piece is a better investment in the moment than trying to figure out an entire house’s worth of art. Take your time in deciding on the perfect fit – art is not going anywhere.
If you are considering multiple pieces at once, think about if you can purchase from the same artist. This can create cohesion in a room or through multiple spaces, all while cutting your search time down.
Where to look for affordable art
Check your mementos
Items we’ve collected over the course of our lives can become part of the art on our walls. Photographs, notes, letters, postcards, tickets, and even items of clothing are all mementos that can be framed and displayed to create a more personal arrangement. Gallery walls are a great way to mix together what is already in your personal memories as you grow your art collection. Do you have an array of records with stellar covers or vintage film and TV posters? Consider grouping them together to make a statement and show off your collection.
Consider artist prints when art collecting on a budget
You’ve found it, the perfect artist that captures the style and tone you want in your own space. Everything about what they create is perfect – except for the price. Don’t let this deter you. While dropping top dollars on new art isn’t as accessible to you now, many artists nowadays offer a range of options to own a piece of their work.
A giclee print of a much larger, more expensive piece can be much more approachable when considering art on a budget. While not the original canvas or photo, prints offer a replication on paper, easily framed and hung in a variety of spaces. Depending on the ideal hanging spot, different sizes of prints are offered in both paper and canvas. Explore Artepreneur’s Giclee Prints for your perfect print fit. You can also contact an artist directly or through a seller’s contact to see if they offer prints or other options to collect their art at lower price points. Set alerts for your favorite artists on social media so you’ll be the first to know of any studio clearance sales or discount codes.
Research open access art
Walking through the galleries of any major art museum can be inspiring, especially when looking for some of your personal favorite pieces of art. Finding those pieces in the halls can feel magical. You might even want that piece, whether Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, but will have no way of getting it in your home.
Many major museums offer art search tools to view their permanent collections online. Many museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Art Institute of Chicago, allow you to search for permanent collection pieces through an open access filter. Art that is open access can be downloaded and duplicated for free. Search for your favorite pieces to include them in your own space.
Take advantage of the museum freebie
Strolling through a museum, and checking out the work available to view is a great way to find inspiration for art. Museums are also a great way to collect items for framing, creating both a display piece as well as a memory.
Next time you visit a museum, see what is available to take home with you for free – gallery booklets, maps, postcards, posters, and newspapers are all up for grabs. These items can be cut, formatted, and framed, all for the low cost of the visit. And be sure to swing by the gift shop to see what other affordable options are for sale.
Dive into DIY
Some of the best art to start conversations is the art you create yourself. The cost of a DIY art piece is up to you and how much you would like to pay for materials or a class. Not only do you get to learn and develop a new skill, you can take your creativity home.
There are many places to find classes: local museums and community centers, as well as independent artists or collectives. Classes in painting, printmaking, pottery, photography, or textiles are great for creating work that you can be proud to display in your home. Over time, you can really dive into a new skill, all while building a collection of your own art.
Art can transform your space, adding light, color, and texture in a variety of ways. Art also doesn’t need to break the bank. There are affordable ways to start building your collection, so begin finding what inspires you. There is no right or wrong answer to what art you want – only what ignites your own creativity.
What tips do you have for starting an art collection on a budget? Let us know in the comments how you factor budgeting into your buying.
Kendall Shepard is a writer and advocate located in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing on ending mass incarceration can be found at fortunesociety.org. Her other work has been featured in Artemis and District, as well as at the LA Fashion Festival.