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Interior Design Insider: How to Start an Artwork Collection?

10 tips to help you start collecting!

Starting your art collection can be a daunting task, and with valid reason! It assumes we should all be expert art dealers ready to drop a small fortune on a piece we may not like years from now.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be that scary. You can start by getting a feel for the things that bring you joy and inspiration.

large painting on wall in living room

Image Credit - Design: Jessica Gersten Interiors | Photography: Andrew Frasz

Tip #1 - Start Small and Local

As you drive or walk home, take notice of that little vintage store in your area. Maybe it’s not somewhere you thought of stopping before, but swing by and see what they might have - you might just find something you love. Flip through the original art section and see if anything speaks to you. Focus on oil or acrylic paintings in wood frames. Talk to the owner and tell them the kinds of things you like - nature, florals, still life, abstract, etc. The shopkeeper can keep an eye out for your preferences, and let you know if there’s anything for you the next time you pop in.

Tip #2 - Don't Break the Bank

Keep your spending low so you don’t feel the pressure of making a catastrophic mistake. Chances are you'll love the piece, but choosing art for your home should be a fun experience, not a stressful one.

Tip #3 - Mix It Up

Consider different sizes and shapes. It doesn’t have to match - once you bring it home, it will find its way to the right wall. Maybe a small, moody farm scene sits over a vintage table in the hallway or, better yet, a plate holder over a buffet table.

Tip #4 - Look for Unique Frames

Look for artwork in interesting wooden frames, and don’t be afraid to mix wood tones! Incorporating different tones will not only add depth and warmth to your space but prevent it from feeling too matchy-matchy as well. Once you accumulate a nice collection of a few pieces, you can go on to create an amazing gallery wall (the perfect addition to any dining room or hallway!)

Multiple paintings on a wall in different frames

Image Credit - Design: Emily Henderson | Photography: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #5 - Does It Speak to You?

Look for art that speaks to you. I found a great piece where an artist had taken an old painting and added a Dutch windmill to it. That painting spoke to me and still sits in my collection.

Tip #6 - Make It Cheeky

Get a little cheeky and find something that makes you smile every time you see it. I picked up a painting of a rooster from an LA vintage shop in Little Ethiopia, and it still brings me so much joy.

Tip #7 - Small Travel Mementos

When you travel, stop in a local flea market or vintage shop. Pick a small hand-painted or unique piece to bring home that will remind you of your trip.

*Make sure to consider what you can take back with you if traveling through customs.

Travel mementos sitting on dresser

Tip #8 - Pick a Special Date

Set an anniversary date of when you are going to add to your collection in order to make those pieces feel special. It could be your birthday or any other day that holds significance for you!

Tip #9 - Black & White Photographs

Black and white photos are a classic addition to any collection. There are some fantastic treasures out there. I purchased a great old black and white photo of Mt. St. Helens before its top blew off!

Tip #10 - Grandma's House

Don’t forget to circle around to grandma’s house or your great aunt, they love to share their treasures. How amazing would it be if a family piece is handed down to you?

Get out there and explore your dream art collection!

Flex your creative muscles through exploration. You'll begin to understand what you like and what makes you laugh or feel nostalgic.

Please share the artwork that started your collection! We would love to see some of your favorite finds.


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