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A Beginner’s Guide to Building an Art Collection, According to the Experts

A Beginner’s Guide to Building an Art Collection, According to the Experts
"Don't be in such a hurry to build your collection."

If you’re combing through the maze of galleries at the 8th annual Art Fair Philippines, you might get the idea of purchasing a contemporary piece or two from the fair, but before you begin building your collection, or adding to the pieces you already have hanging on your wall, stop and consider your transactions. While many seasoned collectors may advise you to buy what catches your eye, it really isn’t that simple. We asked a couple of participants at Art Fair Philippines what they would like young collectors to know. 

1. Pick up a book, and look at photographs.

Seasoned photographer Neal Oshima says that when buying art, it’s better to collect thing you like, rather than just doing it as a form of investment. "You have to find what you’re passionate about and so it’s really about looking at paintings [and] looking at images," he says. 

When it comes to developing one’s eye in collecting photographs, it’s all about training oneself. Neal says to look at backs and look at the classics. He also recommends a book by John Szarkowski called Looking at Photographs. "It was done in the ‘50s and he just takes many different photographs for the Museum of Modern Art collection and he just talks about what makes those photographs unique or iconic. I learned so much from that."


2. Know yourself and your taste as a collector.

Mono8 Gallery curator Gwen Bautista wants new collectors to discover what it is that they really want. And to achieve that, you have to know yourself as a collector. "You have to understand yourself as a collector, and to understand that, you have to understand yourself, which is a very difficult thing to do."

She also stresses the importance of learning about the artist that you’re interested in and learning more about his or her process. "I would also advise them to build a very specific collection because in the log term, in terms of investment and value, that’s going to be worth more than what the usual hype is." 

Don’t ignore the emerging and young artists.

It’s tempting to be swayed and buy into works by already established artists, but the young, up-and-coming ones have a lot to offer as well. Gwen encourages collectors to get acquainted with their work because "it’s always an interesting part in collecting, where the artist’s practice grows up with you in a way." Two artists that have caught her eye are Miguel Puyat, who does many installations, and Indy Paredes, who just participated in the Gwangju Biennale.

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Take it slow.

"Don’t be in such a hurry to build your collection," says Luigi Singson of Tin-Aw Art Management. The collecting process is a slow one and Luigi says it’s best to go around the city and see as many exhibitions and art as one can. "Get to know the artists as well."

And if you’re itching to buy a work of art that calls out to you right now, just wait right there. Luigi says that your taste will eventually change once you’ve developed your eye and are more exposed to art. "After a while, your taste becomes more refined and I guess that’s the best time to build your collection. It’s a personal, but refined taste."

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