When I first moved into my home, I loved everything about my plain, white walls. After the challenges of building and finishing a property, they seemed to be the perfect crisp, clean result, and I couldn’t imagine covering them up. But, as time passed, they started to feel a little void of personality.
So it was time to start thinking about bringing some art in – but where to start? I quickly found that growing an art collection that best represents you and your style is no easy feat, especially on a budget.
Contemporary art advisor and art curator at Gallery Marcoux Claude Camilleri understands that the first step is often the hardest when it comes to thinking about adding art to your home.
“You have choices to make, such as the type of art you want to purchase,” he says. “It could be art on canvas, art on quality paper, or sculpture, to name but a few options. Which are you naturally drawn to most?”
So much of your choices come down to personal taste and the size of your home, but knowing the medium you like best will then help you to assess the next question: the genre.
“Now that’s an unlimited option,” Camilleri continues. “Genres of art are constantly evolving, but they do mainly fall into classical and contemporary categories. It helps to do your research about which of the two you lean most towards before you start your search in earnest.”
Despite all of the things to consider, the important aspect, the curator suggests, is not to feel overwhelmed by the process of building your collection, as it all happens one purchase at a time.
“Be organised and keep a file for your art portfolio for easy access,” he recommends. “As time passes, this will also enable you to see if any of the artworks you’ve purchased have appreciated in value.”
Asked about how he builds his own collection, Camilleri says it all comes down to attraction, excitement and wow factor.
Knowing the medium you like best will help you assess the genre
“As for the value of the piece I opt for, I consider three factors when judging that: originality, presentation and the artist’s evolution,” he says. “On the originality front, I question whether the artwork is unique, if it has wow factor, whether it’s a one-off or part of a collection and whether it’s a limited edition. When it comes to presentation, I am keen to see if it shows well, if it has good framing and a solid foundation, if it is easy to handle, and if it presents itself well. Finally, I look into the artist and their evolution to understand a bit about their career, their following, and whether or not their work is in demand. This all contributes to value in the long-term.”
And while galleries are the ideal place to head to when you’re thinking of buying your first piece of art or two, you could also consider attending an auction, art fair or art market, or even contacting a dealer.
“The great thing about auctions is that the research about the artwork is done for you ahead of time,” he enthuses. “This means the auction house should be selling genuine artwork by the artist, and that it should have a certificate of authenticity, as well as any other paperwork that confirms the artist, the origin, the name of the piece, the date, the size, and the medium of the artwork.”
The price range at auction is also, usually, a good indication of the value of the piece. “But I do recommend setting a price cap on the highest bid you’re willing to make beforehand,” the curator smiles. “This avoids things getting out of a hand. A good tip is to pick up the auction books in advance, as its here that you can track an artist’s value over time, especially if you’re only buying the piece as an investment. These books are usually available online or by demand.”
Camilleri, meanwhile, explains that he likes to buy most of his art at exhibitions, as they give him the time to see what one or a number of artists are currently creating.
“I love to walk through exhibitions at a steady pace, and then stop to look closer at anything that catches my eye. Imagine Joey from the sitcom Friends walking through a space and stopping to say ‘How you doin’’ to anything that he likes the look of. That’s pretty much my tactic, and anything that grabs my attention is then top of my list to buy,” he grins.
Finally, Camilleri shares his ultimate tip: commit yourself to buying artwork that is worthy of your hospitality. “Follow and support local artists. Follow international artists you love. Visit their shows. The results for your collection will be worth it,” he adds.
Space and light
Bonus tips from art curator Claude Camilleri
“Consider space and light when purchasing art for your home. The right space should have an area big enough to display the art property, and will have enough well-positioned light to showcase it at any time of day. Framed art is best enjoyed at eye level, while pedestals are ideal for sculptures. Make sure to use your spirit level to keep your artwork balanced and straight.”