Many people collect art for different reasons. I collect art because I'm an artist and I know other dope artist's work that I appreciate. An art collection is like an extension of yourself-- things you admire, things that challenge your thinking and things you can't live without.
Collecting art is not just something for the rich. Last year, I went to the 30 Americans private opening at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The show is a part of the Rubell collection and has been exhibited at several museums across America.
The Rubells have a private museum in Miami where their art collection is housed. They own the kind of art you see in the news or listed in Christies’ latest record-breaking auction. But their collection didn't begin that way. They started small like many collectors do-- usually during their college years. As the Rubells became more established and successful, they expanded their collection but always bought what they could afford.
During the talk they gave for the exhibition, there was a woman who wanted to know if she could buy a Kehinde Wiley painting on the low-low. I'm not knocking her hustle; she wanted to see what the prices were for something super small. She held her hands together really close and said, "How about this small?". If she was able to buy one of his pieces for the price I think she was aiming for, I probably would have been next in line.
The thing about this artist is that most of his pieces-- even the smallest ones-- start off in the tens of thousands of dollars, probably more. The Rubells told the woman that Wiley was now out of their reach and that she should consider local and emerging artists to begin her collection. That was the best advice they could have given her.
Most people believe you have to be wealthy to buy works of art. They see it as excess, but I believe it is a necessity. When you walk into any home, you will find pictures hanging on the wall. Photos of family and friends, and plenty of framed posters, knock-off prints from street fairs, or corny "art" from stores, like Walmart.
If you fit easily in the category of folks that have framed posters of the man holding the earth on his shoulders with his queen sitting on top or the one with the black woman pregnant with earth and many more I could describe-- if those images somehow compel or interest you enough to purchase and place on your wall, you should definitely consider buying work from an emerging artist.
Yes, you may have to pay a little more, but this work of art can be seen as an investment and will be more affordable for you, considering the artist has not yet made any huge sales. You will also be supporting a living, working artist. Hello, people.
Most people don't know that some galleries and artist are open to putting you on a payment plan. It might sound crazy, but get that joint on layaway. It's much better than the Walmart wall art plan you had in mind. The Rubells built their collection using this type of payment. The Rubells said they once asked an artist if they could pay 40 dollars for the month during one of their art-a-way plans and the artist agreed. My point: ask and you may receive.
So if you are searching for some interesting work to buy, ditch that print you were looking at of the man and woman chiseling one another out of rock and check out your local art galleries, go to art openings and search the papers for art events. The best way to get in on the ground floor is to go to open studios where artists allow the public to come into their creative spaces and see what they have been working on.
These are the places where you can start and in a few years, you will have an amazing art collection of original work from dope, living artists. Trust me. The walls of your home will thank you.