art, Guides

101 guide to building an art collection

Tappan



Tappan co-founder Chelsea Nassib

Tappan is a modern gallery experience. The Los Angeles-based, curated e-commerce platform sells original paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and fine art prints by up-and-coming artists from around the world. Wanting to make emerging, contemporary art more accessible – and bring art back into the foundation of the common conversation – 29-year-old entrepreneur Chelsea Nassib co-founded the company, which currently represents over 53 artists. As she understands that for first-time art buyers the process can be a daunting one, Chelsea has compiled an all-encompassing guide to give you the confidence and answers you need to start collecting art.

Dipping your toes in the art-buying experience can be a daunting experience. Among galleries, artist studios, online platforms and more, there are several ways to discover art, and even more etiquettes and formalities to follow. Tappan aims to demystify this experience through transparency, an advisory service, and true belief and support in the artists it works with. This simple guidebook addresses some of these unspoken art world rules.

Anna Valdez, 'Flowers on Rock'

Commonly asked questions

Where and from whom do I buy artworks?

Simply put, the art market has generally been divided into two parts: the primary market and the secondary market. The primary market consists of artworks being sold for the first time, either through an artist’s studio or through a gallery. The secondary art market refers to artwork that has previously sold at least once before. Auction houses and specialist dealers are good examples of this. Artists, gallerists, advisors, specialists and curators are the major art world players, and have been the main resource for finding and collecting art.

What should I know before starting my collection? 

Stay informed on art world news and the marketplace. Talk to collectors, curators, critics and artwork participants to learn as much as you can. Discover and develop your taste through exploring and educating yourself on artists and the contemporary art landscape wherever you live. Taste is personal, so don’t be afraid to cultivate it. Tappan encourages collectors to listen to their gut and buy what they like. Building a collection should be personal and takes time: not only are you connecting with the art, but you are also building relationships with professionals whose job is to introduce you to work you love.

Should I schedule an appointment with a gallery?

Most galleries are open to the public during scheduled hours, but visitors are normally left to navigate on their own. If you schedule an appointment to view a particular piece, you will have a better opportunity to interact with the gallerist and learn more about the artist and their work.

I’ve noticed that most galleries don’t display prices. What does this mean? Is it okay to inquire about pricing?

Because prices are determined by various factors such as the artist’s exhibition history, sales history and career, the value may change. It’s common practice for galleries not to publicly share pricing information, but don’t be afraid to ask!

Do I contact the artist directly or the gallery to arrange a studio visit? Who should be present at the visit?

The gallery acts as the liaison between the collector and the artist, who relies on the gallery to communicate on their behalf. The gallery's mediation role provides support to the artist, while ensuring that the collector has the best experience possible. Contact the gallery to arrange a visit and you will receive all the information you need – all three parties should be present.

Are artwork prices negotiable? 

Given the market value of a piece, consistency must be kept in order to ensure proper appreciation of the work and respect for the artist. If you want to inquire about a possible discount, the gallery will be your contact point for such conversations at all times.

After I purchase an artwork, what should I expect?

Proper shipping and handling should be organised, depending on the type of artwork. The purchased artwork should be accompanied by proper documentation, which provides you with the official provenance of the work.

How do I continue to develop a relationship with an artist after purchasing their work through a gallery?

The collector and gallery’s relationship to the artist cultivates unrivalled patronage, and both parties share a common goal in supporting the artist. The collector supports the artist through financial patronage, while the gallery’s responsibility is to cultivate the artist’s career through multifaceted means.

Jonni Cheatwood, 'She's a Gretzky!'

Chelsea's top 7 tips

1. Remember that art is personal. As the saying goes, 'Buy with your eyes, not with your ears'. When you start looking for works, trust what you’re drawn to. Don’t buy it because you think you should; every collection should be unique.

2. Start getting involved. Go to gallery openings and fairs. The more you see, the easier it will become to work out what you like.

3. Feel comfortable asking questions about artists and their work. When it comes to art, there is no wrong interpretation of the work. Spend time learning about the artists you’re investing in. If you’re serious about the work and you can’t find what you’re looking for online, reach out to their gallery and ask to set up a studio visit.

4. Only spend what you’re comfortable with. One of the founding principles of Tappan was that great art can be bought at any price point.

5. Document your purchases. The more information you have on the context of your purchase, the better. In years to come, the history of where the work has been, the book from the show it was a part of, or the note the artist wrote you will all increase its value.

6. Ask yourself, 'Why am I drawn to this piece?' Does it make you see life differently? Does it inspire you? Do you like the artist’s technique? As you continue to ask yourself why you’ve purchased the art you have, you will not only learn about yourself, but also become more thoughtful in your future purchases.

7. Just do it. Once you start buying art, you’ll become more comfortable with the process and then you’ll begin to see in which direction you want to take your collection. Great collections are well thought out, but first and foremost, develop your artistic taste.

Visit tappancollective.com for more information.

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