Have you ever wanted to start an art collection but felt completely confused on where to begin? The art collections on televisions shows such as, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, make you feel even worse about starting your collection?

What if I told you that starting an art collection did not have to be intimidating or break the bank?

Let me share with you 7 tips to get you started:

Buy What You Love  – In the beginning you can research all the art appreciation books, art catalogues and listen to the “experts” tell you what to buy, but you must love the art. Develop your passion for art. Take your time and look at several pieces in museums, art galleries, art fairs, and online. The more art you research the more likely you will learn to develop an eye for high quality pieces. If you decide that you want to collect impressionistic land and seascapes, you will notice which artists have truly developed their skills and which ones aren’t quite there.

Build relationships with other art collectors  –  Local universities may have guest speakers that discuss the arts or visit an art gallery opening to meet avid art collectors. Trust me, art lovers cannot stop talking about their latest piece or their favorite artists. You will learn which artists are growing their careers and gaining a following. Also at gallery openings, many have “artist talks” which give the artist the opportunity to address the crowd and share their process and vision behind the work. Sometimes you may buy a piece because you love how passionate the artist is about his or her work.

Purchase the best quality piece within your budget and not multiple pieces that are mediocre – Collecting art is about quality and not quantity. Many artists have a gallery show displaying a series of work. Similar to a musician that is promoting his album, there are songs that you love, like and dislike. Find out if this is the artists first show, you may like his or her work from a previous series. Many times I have been to an artist opening and used my phone to look at his website. If possible, research the artist before the show. But sometimes you are caught off guard and a particular piece keeps calling your name even after you walk away. In this case, you must trust your gut and buy it. I can honestly say that I have never regretted buying a piece that caused a strong emotion.

Keep good records – I receive phone calls daily from someone that inherited art from a loved one and has no idea what to do with it. Many times they cannot read the signature. Unless the artwork is from a well-known blue chip artists, many art appraisers will have a difficult time recognizing the piece or give you a fair market value price. While collecting art, have the gallery owner or the artists sign a COA. (Certificate of Authenticity) This certificate will have the artist name, name and description of the artwork, and a signature of the person authorizing its authenticity. Keeping great records will help insure your artwork in case of a disaster and help your loved ones if they decide to sell the artwork in the future.

Have fun – Collecting art is a lifelong pursuit. No one is keeping score and it is not a race. As you mature in knowledge regarding art and the primary market you might want to collect art for investment purposes but the advice still remains, collect what you love.