We all know that art works can sell for millions of dollars (The Balloon Dog – Orange, by Jeff Koons was sold for a crazy $58.4 million!), so as an art lover, it can be a little disheartening. If you’ve just moved into a new place, or if you fancy sprucing up your apartment with something special, then you’re in luck – art fairs are happening in Singapore – left, right and centre. From the Affordable Art Fair, with thousands of prints, paintings, sculptures and photography at (you guessed it) an affordable price, to the Singapore Art Fair that focuses on contemporary artwork from 55 galleries from all over the world, there’s going to be something for everyone.
If you’re keen to start a little art collection, but you don’t really know where to begin, we’ve asked our former That Girl, the wonderful Emma French, to give us some key tips on how to start buying art!
Image sourced via Pinterest
Find out what you like.
This sounds remedial, but ‘what I like’ is often quite a hard thing to define, especially when you are first starting out. Make yourself an arty Pinterest board and just start dropping in paintings, drawings, photos, screen prints, sculptures, embroidery – whatever it is that grabs you, and soon you’ll have your own digital salon hang. You might start seeing common threads throughout the works that can help you define your taste, but if you don’t, that’s OK too… what you like is an extension of who you are and sometimes thats an eclectic and unpredictable beast.
Image sourced via Pinterest
Decide WHY you are starting a collection.
If you are buying to learn more about art then you should cast a wide net – see a lot and read a lot, there a lot of talks you can go to as well. If you are buying for investment, then you need to learn about the market, give yourself a pretend budget, decide what you would buy with it and see how your pretend investments do before you actually reach for your wallet. If you are buying for decoration, then you need to think about how and where a work will sit in your home and know the limitations of where you live.
Click away from Facebook.
Sorry to be Captain Obvious but: the internet is a good place to start looking at art.
For sheer volume www.saatchiart.
In terms of blogs, I like www.thejealouscurator.
Know a little.
This is a good start: anything that comes in multiple prints tends to be cheaper than a one-off work, so prints are great place to start buying art. A limited edition print means that only a certain number of these works will ever be made – the lower the print run, the rarer and therefore more expensive the works tend to be. Sometimes, the later in the print run you are buying the more expensive the works become. If you see ‘AP’ that means its an Artist Proof and you will often be charged a premium for this. The term ‘artist proof’ harks back to traditional print making processes when the artist would take an impression of the plate they were working on, it now just really refers to the artist’s prints that aren’t included in the count of a limited edition. If the artist is selling an AP it indicates a sell-out limited edition run, you’re buying the very last of those works available.
Note: artists are sometimes quite cheeky with the number of APs they keep, it can be 20 or more so keep an eye out for that if it is important to you. Also other artists are pretty loose with their definition of ‘limited’ – I’m looking at you Damian Hirst! An edition of 5,000 is basically just a poster, and when you are charging over GBP2,000 a pop, that’s practically printing your own money.
Suck it up and go to some galleries.
Galleries are intimidating places, FACT. But the small and mid sized galleries are actually very friendly places, especially on opening nights and a lot of the time they will have works in a wide range of prices from the same artist so even if you can’t afford the star piece of the show, they may have a print or a small work on paper that is in your budget. Zelie Walker from Christies once gave me a great piece of advice – she looks for pieces where there is something about the craftsmanship or the process that is admirable or interesting because while your taste might change, you’ll always appreciate that about the work… and that’s what lasts, not whether it matches your sofa.
If an artist is represented by a gallery then you need to go through that gallery for sales and not go direct to the artist. There’s a lot of work and expense that goes into putting on an exhibition so it is bad form (and bad juju) to cut the gallery out. Also don’t be the weird lady that carries an empty water bottle and slowly fills it with the free wine on opening night – we see you weird lady. True story.
Art in unusual places.
Keep your eyes peeled because galleries aren’t the only places you can find art. It’s good to keep tabs on small pop-up venues where unrepresented artists put on their own shows.
Image sourced via Pinterest
Don’t underestimate framing.
Think of frames like eyebrows, although they aren’t the focal point the right ones make all the difference in the world. A good frame can make a cheap piece of art look expensive and a bad frame can make an expensive piece of art look cheap. As tempting as it is to go to IKEA and get a bunch of frames and fill them yourself, you’ll outgrow those very quickly.
The Affordable Art Fair is one to check out, if you haven’t already. Singapore Art Fair is another, and it is kicking off this weekend in the Lion City! Focusing on contemporary artwork from over 55 galleries from the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, this inaugural event is set to be an absolute must-visit on the art calendar. Immerse yourself in all things arty over the weekend of 28 November at Suntec . To make this event even sweeter, we’re giving away one VIP ticket pass (admits two) to a lucky Sassy Girl and her plus one. All you have to do is drop your deets in our giveaway form and keep those fingers crossed.