Architectural designer Reinaldo Leandro (pictured below) got in early on several rising artists before their prices went stratospheric. The lesson from Leandro's wall is the mix: Some of the work was a gift, other pieces were investments, and then there's stuff made by friends.
The big secret about the art world is that there kinda is no art world. It's more about learning the landscape, honing your aesthetic and making a few connections. Cash flow, thankfully, is secondary.
Whether you're looking to buy your first major work (we'll coach you through that next) or just tripping out on an artist's work on Tumblr, all it takes is participation. The best advice is "buy slowly, use wisely."
1. Take your time and do your homework. There are bargains out there, often found at charity auctions or from auction houses not located in N.Y.C. or L.A.
2. Don't just accept a dealer's price—check a database like artsalesindex.artinfo.com. See what similar works are going for.
3. Don't buy something because you think you'll flip it. Buy what you like—and buy to keep. Think of your collection as your estate.
4. Don't buy a poster even if it's a Warhol. If you do buy from an edition of prints, buy from a small edition and make sure it's signed.
5. Don't be too hip. It's hard to be on the upside of the curve unless you're an insider. Better to buy something that's gone a bit obscure, even out—think modern, not contemporary. (I remember when pulp art was cheap. Now I'm liking '70s color-field painters.)
Where To Find Inspiration
1. Go to art fairs
Pascal Spengemann, director of Marlborough Chelsea and Broome Street, explains:
Fairs are packed with as much art as museums, so the layman can become an insider very quickly. You get to see a lot of work from a lot of different galleries all at once, and the dealers are eager to make sales. Dealers like an educated consumer, but if you're open to learning about the work, they're interested in expanding their clientele.
Just look for someone with a badge on and don't be afraid to ask questions. How is something made? How old is the artist? How well-known? You can ask price right away, and it's common for a collector to ask for a 10 percent discount. Once you've found some galleries that feel like kindred spirits, you can follow up and visit them at their actual locations.
2. Browse art books
Bill Powers, founder of Half Gallery, says:
Think of an artbook collection as your fantasy art collection. I probably have a thousand at home, and it's a nice way to live with a body of work. There are three categories to know: There's the monograph, which is a history of an artist's professional work. There are catalogs for museums (pretty mainstream) and gallery shows (a little more rarefied).
And then there are artists' books, which are those small passion projects—like a show in book form. The spirit connection between collecting art and collecting art books is to get a signed art book. Then you have the artist's hand in the work. Isn't that what everyone's looking for? You can even frame a book like a piece of art. I did that with a copy of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol that has the soup-can drawing in it; I rigged it up so it's open to that page.
*This article originally appeared in GQ Magazine
Read more: http://www.gq.com/entertainment/art-and-design/new-artists-chris-johanson-andrew-kuo-wes-lang#slide=1#ixzz3ZpxPqY8e