Falling in love with an artwork – and choosing to add it to your collection – is an exciting process. But, for new and experienced collectors alike, it is one that can often spark questions – and which may benefit from expert guidance. Here, gallerists and art advisors can be your friend, sharing specialist knowledge acquired over years in the art world. We share a selection of questions you might consider asking – whether you’re on the cusp of making a purchase, or simply exploring new artists and artworks.
What practical considerations do I need to make?
Gallerists aren’t just experts in an artist’s career, or the type of work they create. Their expertise is far more wide-ranging, and you should feel confident in asking them about the more practical aspects of the buying process. You might, for example, be unsure whether a new work needs supporting documentation, such as a certificate of authenticity. Or you may wish to ship a new purchase to a holiday home overseas, and need guidance on transport and export fees. Your gallerist will help ensure that the process of adding a new work to your collection runs as smoothly as possible. Maeve Doyle, Artist Director of Maddox Gallery, explains:
Behind the glamour and red carpets of private views, the services of a gallery often relieve the artist of the burden of everyday bookkeeping, accounting, shipping, insuring, archiving and so much more’
How do I know an artist is a wise investment?
While you may choose to acquire a work simply because you’ve fallen in love with it, for many, it’s important to know that a potential purchase will represent a wise investment in years to come. Here, gallerists can provide helpful guidance – and are likely to have a wide-ranging knowledge of the global art market, that can support informed decision-making. Maeve Doyle explains: ‘Many gallerists are visionaries with the dedication and self-confidence of an art maker – and, in addition to a solid business sense, they have a natural eye for talent’. Maddox’s European Gallery Director, Fi Lovett, shares some of the questions she considers with collectors who are keen to know more about investment potential: ‘Is the artist formally trained or self-taught? If formally trained, where? What has happened to the artist’s prices historically?’ With emerging artists, she adds, it can be useful to know ‘whether they’ve had any solo shows, or if there are plans for one – awareness drives demand, which, in turn, drives prices.’
What’s the right way to look after my artwork?
If you’ve purchased an artwork you love, it’s important to keep it in pristine condition – especially if you hope to pass it down to future generations, or want the best chance of selling the piece for a healthy sum at a later date. Here again, gallerists can provide important information on looking after your new acquisition. Take time to talk to them about the best way to hang a work, and ask whether it’s likely to need any check-ups from conservators or other specialists to ensure its long-term health. Many collectors, explains Fi Lovett, ‘want to know how the conditions in their home might affect the artwork, and what precautions they should take.’ Having these conversations can be a way to prevent unintentional damage: ‘If the artwork is going to be hung in a bright, south-facing spot, we can glaze with special glass that protects the work from UV rays which can cause colours to fade over time’.