The Impossibility of Art Collecting in the Mind of Someone with Little Money

You are born a collector. There are multiple pieces of evidence in a shoebox in your wardrobe, in your parents' basement, in a storage unit that you are renting. When you visit a museum, you love playing the game "if you had millions of $$$ which painting would you buy?" You love art, and beautiful objects compel you. You keep saying that one day, you will own art.
Feature Image: Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, Exhibition at the Barbican in London, Jim Shaw’s thrift store paintings collection. Photograph by Peter McDiarmid

As you are now spending more time at home, less going out, you might have a little bit of money to invest in your first piece of art. You want your home to feel warm & inspiring! Read this blog, and find how to take the collecting jump sooner than you thought it would be possible!  

Every collector or almost will mention that as a child, they collected rocks, stamps, pins, little pieces of paper, bottle caps or something else. They already had this need to assemble things – more or less- harmoniously together. There is a fascination to bring together pieces and “play” with how they create a dialogue. The more enters the collection, and the more one comes to the realisation of how they are pieces of a never-ending puzzle that has only the limit or one’s bank account. Collectors talk about the collecting “bug”, the same way that people who get their first tattoo more than often want another one right away.  

But how to start in this world seems highly inaccessible, when (Art)news outlets showcase only the top 1% and phenomenally expensive artworks. In addition to that, there is the hard to overcome unwritten codes of galleries and art fairs, the obscurity of the market – this leads to a world with more than one barrier to enter it. Rest reassured art lovers and futures collectors, there are ways to start your collection without thousands of dollars in your personal art fund.  

Day 55 & Day 77 from A Collection a day by artist Lisa Congdon

(…)we believe that if you don’t have the knowledge you’re lost. A lot of people talk but they don’t have the knowledge, and knowledge is power. – Rosa de la Cruz

Here are 6 books to grow your knowledge and get your art collection a great start.  

Could Have Would Have Should Have by Tiqui Atencio
While this book might not be as much of a resource than other books and features mostly collectors with millions to invest in their art collectors, it will be an entertaining read that will make your realised patterns in collecting and read about good collecting lessons. This book is acting like a good shepherd leading the way, highlighting obstacle that might come your way and learning from other people journey!  

As Leonard Lauder recently said in an interview about his newly release memoire: “‘You Only Regret What You Don’t Buy’ 

The Shift, Art and the Rise to Power of Contemporary Collectors by Marta Gnyp 
Based on Gnyp’s PhD research and her own experience as an art advisor, collector, and journalist, this is a good place to start to understand the world you are entering. Reading it will make you gain insights both on the market and learn from several collectors and their own strategies and advice  

A Poor Collector’s Guide to Buying Great Art by Erling Kagge
While not playing favourites, this book is the one you should get first as you are probably in a similar situation then Kagge when he started collecting – you most likely do not have money, but maybe you have something that the artist wants – wine, accounting services, fashion advice, website design skills… buying upfront with money isn’t always the only way to start a collection – service exchange might be it – Afterall it is one of the oldest forms of payment. His recommendations are down to earth and are easily applicable at all level of collecting. His book title is inspired by Eugene M. Schwartz, Confession of a Poor Collector – How to build a worthwhile art collection with the least possible money originally published in 1970. 

Collectors become obsessive and then addicted. You become addicted to art and you can’t live without it. – Eli Broad

The Black Market by Charles Moore
Moore, an art historian, collector and author, published in 2020 this guide to art collecting created by Black artists. One will appreciate the wealth of knowledge and resources that he provides from exhibition to look at, artists you should know, essential art terms, additional references, and practical advice on conservation, installation, transportation, and insurances. Quick and easy to read, avoid jargon, it will help you to figure out where to start.  

The Art Collector’s Handbook by Mary Rozell 
This book is a resource – if you are looking for entertainment, this might not be your first pick. If you want to make sure that you
have an in-depth understanding of some terms, of the issues that can arise from collecting art, this book will be for you.  If you are ready to commit to your collection – or want to know what you will get into by starting your collection and want to protect your investment, it will definitely be one of your best companions for this journey.  

You can either buy clothes or buy pictures. – Gertrude Stein

Collecting Art for Love, Money and More by Ethan Wagner & Thea Westreich Wagner The balanced approach of this book might be what you are looking for. In it, you will find both practical advice as well as anecdotes. It encompasses many aspects of the art world from writing to exhibitions and of course the market—bonus point for their chapter on Collecting on a budget. The images, photographs and illustrations make you feel like you are gazing behind the scene and have the chance to gaze intimately into a world that isn’t yours – yet.  

This list is not exhaustive, and you might find many other compelling books on collecting. Use it as a meaningful place to start, be inspired, develop your knowledge, establish a plan for training your eyes, and build a collection you will love and make you happy and proud to own.  


Among the .ART community, there are many (online) galleries, platforms & new digital initiatives to help you find the first right pieces no matter your geographical location, budget or taste. Here some of the well-curated, highly researched and strong convictions that art should be accessible to all and that you don’t need to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in owning something that touched the hand of an artist – emergent or established!  

ABSOLUT

Artwork by Jeanette Getrost

Absolut Art is a place that will help you and guide you through your first art collection purchase. As they write on their website “we are dedicated to making art collecting seamless, so you can focus on what matters – living with art you love.” With more than 500 artists collaborators, offering multiservice and pieces from below 300$, you will most likely find something that you will fall in love and want to live with. We appreciate the details and information on their website about the art, the artists and how they started.  

Read more about Absolut Art by strolling the multiple sections of their website absolut.art and checking out their Instagram @absolut_art. 

ACE CLUB  

History is Written by the Winners by Heath Kane

If you are on the lookout for cutting edge art, reflecting today’s culture as well as socio-political themes that are relevant today, the ACE Club is where you should start looking. They aren’t a gallery but a “collective of some of the UK’s most celebrated and emerging artists.” The aim is to create pieces that are accessible, engaging directly with their audience. Their goal “is to get a great original, yet affordable art into the hands of people who will appreciate it.” You will find many pieces below the £100 mark on their website while remaining high-quality art print.  

Browse what they currently offer by visiting their website aceclub.art. Make sure to follow them on Instagram under @byaceclub to be aware of new pieces and interesting news about the collective.  

MTLPL

Mao Money by Shepard Fairey

MTLPL standing for multiple is a Hamburg based art dealer with advisory services focused on contemporary and modern limited-edition artworks. Under their MTLPL identity one can read Better than one as “as Warhol, they believe that several is better than one”. They offer artworks by world-renowned at affordable prices. Prints and multiples have long been the way to get a piece by an artist you love and admire, but from whom you couldn’t buy an original! You will find artworks from an impressive variety from modern and contemporary pop artists, to the Düsseldorf Photography School (both master and “student”), minimalist artists and more!  

Take a look into the rabbit hole by strolling their Instagram account @mltpl.art or visiting mltpl.art  

MURUS  

From MURUS Instagram

With the help of virtual tools, you will be able to “see” this art at home, and this is exactly what MURUS wants to offer you with their art experience centred on homes and lifestyles. They offer an art collection shopping that can be done by style, by letting you be inspired by their selection or via their current pop-up collection. We appreciate that you can shop from it if you get inspired or really hooked up on a piece from their Instagram. Bonus point for first time collector based in the UK, they are part of Own Art Scheme and offer interest-free loans.  

Start your collection today by visiting murus.art or wandering on their Instagram account @murus.art 

UP & COMING 

Booty Call by street artist BASM

UP & COMING mojo is ENJOY. COLLECT. INVEST. This digital gallery offers prints and fine art photography as well as unique pieces. You will appreciate how they guide you with suggestions styles and on the rise artists. With an investment of a maximum of 5000€ but with many pieces below that threshold and from less than 200€, you should find something that will catch your eye. Bonus point for their Stories section which showcases articles on collecting, art history, current topics in the Art World and more.  

Take a look at their website, upncoming.art to discover which artworks you can buy from there. You should also get your dose of inspiration from their Instagram @upncoming.art! 


We also published interviews and stories about others .ART adopters that are filled with excellent ways to start your collection. La Pera Project sent us a post about their story and featured their approach to collectors in the digital area. Among them, you can read more about the new platform Photential in our blog post Interview with Photential. Signs & Symbols also featured on our blog with an interview in 2020 has a special initiative that gives you’re the opportunity to acquire some pieces by their artists 

No matter where you acquired your first piece for your collection, make sure that you love it! That is the number one advice collect only what you love no matter if it is trendy or not right now!  

evlyne Laurin
evlyne Laurin
is a self-titled Creative Chaos Manager; people collaborate with her to investigate and analyze their overload piles of compelling ideas and concepts that she rationalized and polished until there is a final product with substance and style. She is also a seasoned art administrator & writer who loves colour-coding things and has a pigeon phobia. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram.