Lately I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the very first piece of art I ever bought. It’s because someone asked me recently how long I’ve been collecting art, and it has been a long, long time.
I’ve come to find that there are, of course a lot of other artists that also collect art, but I was surprised to learn that there are also many, many artists that do not! I’m not here to give them shit or anything, but I think I’ve collected art when I have been close to starving! I mean, forget about what I’ve had to do to continue to make art in the absolute worst of times during my life, but somehow, someway, I have managed to collect it too.
Believe me, I am just as surprised to realize this than you might be to read it!
I don’t think I ever set out to be an “art collector.” Sure, I set out to make art. I could never help that fact. If someone told me that I’d have a pretty major art collection by the time I was 45, I would have done an LOL IRL. Durrrr!
To back up a little, I actually never set out to make money. I never dreamed about it. I never expected it. I never even really wanted it. I know that might border on unhealthy, since I probably should at least try to want some wealth. Everybody needs some money for a certain amount of comfort, for a certain amount of stress reduction, and sure I do want at least that amount. But I never wanted to “get rich.” It’s always scared me. So as far as picturing myself as an “art collector,” I would have equated that with a rich person, not me.
But here I am. Not rich, and I have a pretty nice art collection.
I’ve been collecting art since I was 16 or 17 years old! Actually, maybe even before that, if only I can remember, and if only I can figure out what “counts.”
What counts in collecting? BUYING? or collecting?
I’m going to go with acquiring. Even Museums talk about their “recent acquisitions.” And I will tell you, MANY of those are donations from estates. If you think museums, especially non-privately owned museums, have the budget to just buy up a substantial collection to charge the public to come see, you’re wrong. Many of the pieces you see are donations, and some are even on loan from private parties.
My point being is that collecting means collecting. You got it however you got it, and the first pieces I got were gifts from the artists themselves. It’s all about how you treat the pieces you have collected.
In fact, I think it’s extremely important, if you are a person who thinks you can never have an art collection of your own because you either can’t afford it, or because you are unsure about your tastes, how to “decorate” your living environment, your clarity about what is or isn’t a wise investment, or any of that stuff – that you handle whatever you first have in a certain manner.
I sure hope you’re following me.
Let’s say it’s a gift. Let’s say you aren’t even all that crazy about it! If it’s on paper – GET IT FRAMED properly. Acid free mat, or float it in a nice, maple frame. Whatever you do, do it professionally, and at least frame it the way you like it. Then, hang it in your home where you think it looks best. Where you want to live with it.
If you’re still not that crazy about it, leave it hanging and start thinking about who in your life might like it as a gift. And if you start liking it, great. That’s the first piece of art in your collection.
If you didn’t have to frame it, make sure you know how to care for it. Find out what it is. Is it oil? Acrylic? Is it on canvas or a wooden panel? Who painted it? Maybe you got it at Goodwill. Find out as much information about it as possible. The medium is pretty important. Just take it to someone who would know. A frame shop will most likely help you, even if you are not framing it. Most of those guys are artists and know something about the paint that was used. They can tell you how to clean or dust ir, or if you should hang it out of direct light.
So far, none of this cost you much, if anything. But framing can be really expensive. Especially if you have tastes like mine! Ha!
Anyway, I was going to talk about ME! And what the first thing I got was… Oh yeah, I couldn’t remember exactly, but I got work from other artists. Mostly work they were going to throw away. “I’ll take it!”
They’d just be surprised that I liked it, which I did. I’m only talking about a few pieces here and there, maybe the few days I went to school. Maybe they were doodles. I’d stick them in a frame at home.
But when I started buying things, weirdly enough, I bought objects, not paintings. Ceramics and sculptures. The first thing I remember buying was a ceramic “mug” that was really an art piece, never to be used to drink out of. I paid $17 for it. It was a TON of money for me at the time, and I was around 19 years old.
I’ll get a pic of it for the next entry. Sorry this was all text. In fact, I’ll get a few pics of some early things I started off with.