The Art of Collecting Art 2017


the art of collecting art 2017 

It seems as if everyone you know has more of a clue about art collecting than you do, and when you want to buy your first grown up piece of art, the choices are let’s say, confusing.

Worry no more as this week I will be giving you the inside knowledge that you will need to become a member of the art collectors world.


So you didn’t go to art school, and you couldn’t tell the difference between a Banksy and a Matisse. Firstly you need to educate yourself a little. You may already have some idea of the type of art that you want to collect and you may even have a favourite artist. That’s not to say that you should for your first attempt at entering the world of collectors, buy in to the first thing that catches you eye.

The very first thing you should do, even before you start worrying about your budget is to become familiar with many different artistic styles and artists.

If you have never attended art school, and actually in this day and age it’s not as necessary as it once was, there are plenty of places and things you can try to become just a little more familiar with these often alien surroundings.

I remember when I was around twenty-five and I attended my first ever art auction at one of the major auction houses. I hadn’t got a dime to my name, preferring to spend my meagre earnings on rent, and payments for a car. I knew that I wanted to own a piece of real art, and I had by this time even sold a few pieces of my own work, so I wasn’t exactly a novice, or so I thought...

Within twenty minutes of attending the auction, I realised that not only was I a novice, I wasn’t prepared and nor could I comprehend that art was worth quite so much as it was going for on that wet and cold Thursday evening. 

I don’t remember the actual piece or the artist, but I remember thinking that £7.6 million was out of my league. I hadn’t realised that other fees would be added on to this total price, so the actual price paid was a bit more than small change. Funny thing is that it started at a couple of thousand and I was tempted to waive my number in the air in the first ten seconds of the sale. I really hadn’t got a clue.

It was an education, I became fascinated that such people existed and would buy art for so much money, and they were buying it over the telephone, I mean if you were to spend that much you would think that the buyer would turn up. My art by this time had been sold for a maximum of £200, and I thought that was great.

I continued to attend auctions around the country for a few years, and every time I would just sit right at the back and keep my number firmly in a zipped bag. The very first time I was given a paddle with my number on I was eager to wave it. I learned so much during those few years and I even saw art from the same artist appearing frequently, and in some instances I saw the same piece going back up for sale, and each time it would fetch even more. I so should have made the purchase in the first place and figured out the money later on. 

I attended pretty much every gallery that would let me in. Some galleries work on invite only, so if your name isn’t on the list you aren’t getting inside the door even for a look, but many galleries will welcome everyone and it is these galleries where I gained some first rate knowledge of many artworks, even striking up friendships with gallery owners who were keen to practice on someone it would be impossible to sell too. 

I think most may have realised that I would be a long-term prospect, because it wasn't until I was around 29 that I purchased my first piece of grown up art from a local artist for the princely sum of £1500. I sold it just two years later and made a little profit.

Museums, galleries, auctions, even art and craft fairs became my arts education stomping grounds. I would learn a lot more than I could have dreamed of learning and best of all, this education didn’t cost me a penny.

Once you become confident and you know the types of art and artist you like, you can move on to stage two.


The budget is simple, you need one. You also need to stick to your budget and make sure that those professionals who work in galleries cannot upsell you to a Matisse when your budget is a Peter Max. I have met a few gallery staff who are well versed in up-selling. 

In reality it depends on whether you want to buy something like a limited edition print, or you want an original. If you are starting out, then getting good value is the key. Ideally anywhere from £1,000 ($1245 US) to £10,000 will give you the widest set of options for an emerging artists work.

Once you have set a budget you need to start doing some homework. You need to be open as to what you might reasonably expect to buy. Limited edition prints from emerging or well-known are within reach with this level of budget, but you can occasionally find some great works from known-artists if you are able to compromise on quality, whether they are minor or major works, and size in order to own a work from the artist you love.

There are times when you set a budget and then you will go to the auction and come across a piece that is a little more than your budget allows. I would always suggest adding a little on top of your budget just in case you do stumble across a particularly valuable piece that may pay dividends in the short-term. Just don’t set a contingency that is as high as your existing budget, because it becomes all too easier to say I will take that one. Keep your contingency realistic and affordable. 


I was once really shy, in fact I would avoid any situations where I would find myself in large groups of people because of my shyness. Some people who know me think this is really funny. Since I started going to galleries and museums I have met lots of great friends in the arts and this has helped me all the way through my professional career as well.

Talk to staff who work in galleries and they will usually be happy to talk you through their collection. The more you learn about different artists the more you will be able to compare works, and you will be able to understand what you actually do like.

All too often when you buy your first piece it is purchased from a lack of knowledge. It is easy to fall in love with a piece of art, but if you plan on buying an investment, it is not what is just in your own heart that counts, it becomes more about how that artwork will increase in significance and value. If you plan on keeping a piece, forget the value because you will need to love the work enough to live with it.

Also over time and as you learn more, your own tastes will change. I once adored anything by Mondrian but now my tastes have changed and I have realised for more than a few years that whilst Mondrian’s work is beautiful, it’s no longer what I like. 

I actually now prefer work from emerging artists such as Dora Budor, Yngve Holen, Melike Kara, with a few of the Masters thrown in for good measure such as Matisse, Rubens, and Goya. Interestingly Goya could be described as the last of the old Masters and the first of the moderns.

Talking to and joining in with groups on social-media such as my group, The Artists Exchange will also provide you with insights beyond those found in galleries. Local arts groups are also great to learn a broad range of art related subjects often with guest speakers coming along, and also did you know that some vacation companies now have specific itineraries for art lovers who want to visit art galleries and museums all over the world?

You can also talk to other collectors, and very often collectors will be specialists in the art they collect, often more so than the gallery staff selling the works, but you can also talk to art appraisers, art consultants, and art brokers too. 

art auction paddles 


Beware that the moment you walk into a gallery you will become an official target for a sale. It matters not that you only have a budget of £20, as soon as you walk through the door you are fair game for a sales pitch. My advice is to be upfront and tell the staff that you are just looking because you are trying to find out what particular style you want to start collecting, and working out how much money you need to actually get your first piece. Be totally upfront and honest with them because they will be much keener to advise in a non-sales way. 

Also worth mentioning when dealing with galleries is that they sometimes offer discounts to loyal collectors but occasionally if they believe you could become a loyal collector, they may offer a discount to you too. Some galleries never offer any discount period, so it pays to do your homework.

Check out emerging artists because this is where you could see the best returns in terms of investment. 

Generally the work of emerging artists is cheaper to purchase and these works can often see a massive increase in value as the artist becomes more popular. If you own an early work and this happens then your investment is secure, on the other hand it is a bit of a gamble. If an emerging artist forever remains emerging, then the value could stay the same but might in reality decrease.

Prominent and widely known artist’s works will be more expensive than the work of those who are not so well known. If you go down this route one of the first things you will need to watch out for is the artist’s signature or monogram. 

It is surprising that even today, even experts can miss that the signature doesn’t match those on record. Many of the most well-known artists will have their signatures in databases online, so making initial checks is relatively easy. If you are planning to spend a significant amount, ask an expert appraiser to make sure that the art you are buying is the real thing.


When it comes to choosing what size of art you want to collect it can be a minefield. Do you buy a smaller work that is less expensive than a larger work, but where the artist is well known, or do you buy a larger more expensive work where the artist is less well known?

There are multiple options, and you could even consider limited edition signed prints. Sometimes a good limited edition signed print from a popular and well known artist can also be fruitful in terms of future value.

Limited edition prints are becoming increasingly popular amongst collectors and can be highly sought after. Limited edition prints have a set number that can ever be produced. Open editions on the other hand have no set limit to the amount of prints that can be released but it is usually only until any plates used in printing wear out or there is no longer a demand. Digital reproductions on the other hand really are open ended. 

Of course the limited editions are going to be worth much more than open editions, and many of the limited editions will also be signed by the artist and are usually numbered with two sets of numbers. Something like 001/100 would be the first print, and 100/100 would be the last print, but limited editions could be in the thousands, although with fine art prints it is unusual.

In some instances the print will be signed directly by the artist, although it is not uncommon to find a digital rendering of the artist’s signature on the print, and this is carefully controlled by the producer of the work and in cooperation with the artist. This is how I will be selling some limited editions in the near future. 

I was once offered an antique print of a minor work but there is a general confusion around the age that an item has to be to make it antique. Generally in the art world, anything produced before the start of the twentieth century is considered to be antique.

Modern art is anything made through the twentieth century but this is where you will find works produced using many more mediums such as acrylics. So if someone offers you an antique acrylic from the seventeenth century, something is probably wrong because synthetic paint wasn’t used until around the 1940s, and these are the details that really matter when buying art.

Going back to size, this is something that you need to consider quite early on. I have seen first-hand when a collector buys a piece of art which looks quite small on a gallery wall, but when it goes home, suddenly the buyer realises just how large a 6 feet by 5 feet piece really is. When I say first-hand, what I mean is that this happened to me!


One of the most important words in the art world and one that you need to quickly learn. Whenever you are buying a piece of work you need to know as much about the work as possible. Who painted it, when, the medium, who has previously owned it, and you will need to check the facts given to you.

You can check with previous owners, just as you would when you are buying a second-hand car. Yet this is often the part of the process that catches the uninitiated out. Many people will take a galleries word as gospel, but even museums have got this wrong in the past.

As a rule of thumb, there should be a clear path that shows where the art has been since leaving the hands of the artist, and you will need to retain everything to do with the sale. If you email a gallery, keep a copy of the email both electronically and printed out, and make sure you keep all of the paperwork safe. Consider using safety deposit boxes at your local bank. 

If you lose any of it when it comes to selling the work on, the lack of it could end up costing hundreds, thousands, or even millions.


Prints offer a great way of getting in to collecting. For much less than a popular original, you can often buy a number of prints which will increase in value over time. Whilst prints are not quite like owning the real thing, sometimes they are the only way to own a piece of artwork, particularly when the original is hanging in a museum.

But do you know what to look for? Prints come in many forms, and as we have discussed limited and open editions already, you might want to know about the different print types available.

Heliogravures sound like something that should be flying. These prints use photographic images to recreate etchings on to metal. You are more likely to find that these types of prints were produced shortly before the end of the twentieth century, so are more than likely to be antique.

Etchings are more common, and many original etchings are still in good shape today. These are generally from the antique and earlier modern art periods, and are prints that have been produced by using sharp tools and an acid wash.

Gliclee prints are the types of print that you will usually find my work reproduced on. These are common in the more recent modern art era and are a more contemporary style of print. Produced using digital printers which are extremely high resolution and of an outstanding quality, the Gliclee may be printed on a range of materials, but more commonly of canvas and papers. The great thing about Gliclee prints is that if the best inks and papers or canvases have been used and do not contain acid, the prints can last for a very long time indeed if cared for properly. 

Lithographs are one of the older types of prints and a type of print that I have actually collected in the past. Lithographs used metal and stone surfaces and ink appeared on only part of the surface which is then transferred on to wet paper.

Serigraphy was actually perhaps the earliest type of printing, and used a stencil to paint through a fabric screen. If you have an original serigraphic work, you can almost guarantee that it is old.


By now you should be a little better prepared to make your first purchase of what I like to call grown-up art. Art that is not mass produced and sold in large box stores, and is produced using quality materials and processes.

But there is something else that you need to consider too. There are many local and independent artists all over the world who produce stunning work. Often creating art on a shoestring, you will find work that has so much heart and passion in the creation and more often than not, you will find something produced by one of these talented individuals that will make you fall in love with art all over again every day. 

These individuals are the lifeblood of communities around the world and produce work that will leave you asking why these artists are not already exhibiting in high-end galleries. The answer is often varied, some prefer an independence not offered through galleries, some just haven’t been discovered, and many of them are waiting patiently to make their first sales.

The work produced by many independent artists is exceptional, so if you are looking for a stunning piece of work why not take a look at the wonderful works produced by them.

trust your instincts when buying art 


You can see some of the best I have encountered on my Artists Spotlight page on this site.  The three following artists are not only friends, they are truly talented individuals who produce consistently great works that any collector would want in their collection. 


I have known Shelley for a while, but I have known of her work for much longer. She is a truly talented water color artist and her works show more than an awareness of the beauty of the everyday in an extraordinary display of talent. Her work is vibrant and fun, and often produces and multidimensional space where a variety of thoughts and ideas coexist.

Her works exemplify the mediums expressive potential to produce consistent works. There is never a doubt that the work you are looking at is a Shelley Wallace Ylst creation. I see the work on my timeline and immediately, the colors pop, the lines are consistently drawn, impressively executed and you feel a sense of ease and overwhelming joy when viewing the work. It really is that good.

Shelley told me that: “I fell in love with watercolors in high school, studied at the University of Utah and have been painting ever since. I love the spontaneity and transparency of watercolors and I paint in vivid, rich colors. My art is always evolving and full of joy”.

I quite often notice when perusing social media that her style is often mimicked, but the color never pops as it does on a work from Shelley, nor do those who attempt her unique style portray anywhere near the same sense of quality, care, and joy. Shelley Wallace Ylst is certainly a name to look out for, and I would advise buying her work immediately. I do not say this lightly at all, I have seen some impressive work in galleries around the world, this is certainly on a par, and then some.

You can view Shelley’s work here and also at Society 6  and over at Red Bubble and you can follow Shelley on Facebook


Another artist friend who has exhibited widely and won a number of awards for her work is Caroline Evans Coles. What can I say? Caroline’s work often leaves you open mouthed and her work demonstrates the intense emotion and passion of the artist herself. There is always an intricate weaving of elements in any of her works, creating a marriage of form and material.

Caroline’s artwork is exceptional and glorifies the beauty of nature, both fauna and flora, and continuously evolves. The release of each new work is always something that one looks forward to, portraying real and raw world and human issues through narrative illustration, colour and strong imagery/symbolism, bringing visual delight without detracting from her message.

Caroline views life through color and this is evident throughout. Her works are always consistent, and much like Shelley Wallace Ylst, her works are instantly recognizable.

Caroline also feels deeply about quite a few issues, not least the destruction we are wreaking upon our beautiful planet and the appalling cruelty that is inflicted daily on defenceless animals. This is why a percentage of proceeds made on her Wildlife pieces is given to various animal welfare charities, with which she is involved. She has also donated some of her artwork for auction to help raise funds and awareness for these organisations.

Caroline says “Apart from my ‘realistic’ paintings, most of my artwork is pure fantasy and created not only for the simple enjoyment of being able to use my imagination, but also to hopefully encourage others to use theirs – through vibrant colour and visual stimulation. My more intricate creations encompass a lot of hidden elements, all of which can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer”.

Caroline’s work can be found here, and you can follow Caroline on Facebook here. 

Features & Awards:

* July 2016 - 'The Face Behind the Mask' - Special Merit Award. Find out more here
* June 2016 - 'Catch of the Day I' - Special Merit Award. Find out more here
* Twelve of my Flower Fairies - Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Spirit & Destiny magazine (UK)
* Aug 2015 - ‘Facing my Fears’ has received two Awards. Find out more here
* ‘Áine' - Feb/Mar 2015 issue of Irish America magazine (NY) as a header to their article
‘Sláinte! Love Mór‘


No relation, but you really DO need to see Colleen’s work, in fact you may already will have done because she is known primarily for her extensive years as a prolific large format wall mural artist within Colorado and the Rocky Mountain regions.

An internationally renowned artist who is also a rare blend of both artist and entrepreneurial business person. Her clients range from professional athletes, Beringer Vineyards, Warner Bros, The Denver Broncos Organization, Colorado Rockies Baseball & many professional builders. She has been featured and published in Denver Design Resources, the Parade of Homes, and many other publications throughout Colorado and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

Colleen has an exceptional attention to detail and depth of field. She has mastered the art of creating unique, elegant and stunning paintings from sources within her life. Her unique approach is to become deeply absorbed in the complexity and challenge of her paintings. Combining organic traditional paints with the latest technological advances in the fine art field makes her paintings one-of-a-kind works of art. Colleen is an Image Licensed as well as a Rights-Managed license artist with

Colleen covers a myriad of subject matter. In reality it is not so much about the subject as the challenge of portraying the interplay of light and dark, the rhythm of shapes and the excitement of colour, the mood and atmosphere. Whether it is a portrait of a loved one, a field of sunflowers, a precious pet, a child being chased by the waves of the vast sea, or a tender moment shared within a family, Colleen will capture the essence of the moment in an original painting that will be treasured forever.

Colleen’s works always show an energy that is all too often missing from the works of many fine and contemporary artists of today. Her paintings are skilfully and meticulously created, revealing influences of some of the great masters, and she shows a remarkable understanding of technique. To own her work is a privilege amongst discerning collectors, of which she has many.

You can and should immediately visit Colleen’s site here, and you can also purchase her work here

You can follow Colleen on Facebook here. 


Mark “M.A” Taylor is a UK based artist with more than 30-years of experience. His work is sold to collectors all over the world and is available online here, and within more than 150 of the largest art stores across the USA and Canada, including Deck the Walls, Framing and Art Centre, and The Great Frame Up.

He has a new theory that human adolescence doesn’t end until your late forties, and he lives one day at a time, with a fresh baked cookie. Okay.  And with a coffee.  And maybe some chocolate. But he always promises to take his vitamins. 

Mark has Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease which currently has no cure. You can find out more about Crohn’s from Crohn’s and Colitis UK here
At least 300,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with IBD which are chronic conditions that can cause ulceration and inflammation in the colon (Ulcerative Colitis) or any part of the digestive system (Crohn’s Disease). - See more here
Mark will be publishing the story of his Crohn's disease and his long diagnosis on this site soon. It promises to be an interesting read!


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