I could not be more excited about today’s little guest post. Whenever I do an instagram Q&A I get asked questions about art collecting, how to invest, etc etc. I definitely consider myself a novice so wanted to bring on an expert… meet Liz Lidgett! Liz has the most incredible gallery in Des Moines (I say incredible based on her online presence, I really want to plan a trip) and has some of the best, most informative content about art in her instagram highlights. I love her mission of “art for everyone,” and I love her inclusive approach (she places a priority of highlighting female artists as well as artists of color).
On top of that, she let me curate a little collection on her site of some of my favorite pieces from her gallery. The “show” will be live through the month of July, and if you see something you have been eyeing, the code GRACE will get you 10% off any of the pieces I chose!
Building an Art Collection You Love!
Q: Should you care about the long-term value or just buy what you love?
LL: My answer will always be to buy what you love. Of course, you will want your artwork to either hold its value or increase in value but I think you should buy pieces that you will want to live with for a long time and won’t want to part with.
Q: Should you prioritize art you love or what fits with your decor?
LL: I think if you prioritize buying art that you love, it will fit with your decor. Your home should be a representation of you and your life. If you buy art, furniture and decor that you love, it will all fit together to make your home perfectly yours. Art, of course, can do both — it can match your sofa and be something you connect with but when in doubt, always buy what you love.
Q: How to cohesively bring pieces together from different artists?
LL: My collection is filled with a variety of artists and I have unified the collection in a couple of different ways. The first way is through framing. If you can choose 1-2 frame types to keep consistently using, then the artwork will seem more cohesive. Another way, is that I hang artwork that has one or two similar colors near each other. I always say when you’re hanging artwork near another piece they have a “conversation” and to have a good conversation you just need one or two things in common — just like with people.
Q: What are the top questions to ask when deciding on a piece?
LL: Research is always important if you’re thinking about making a big purchase. I ask about the artist’s background, their technique, and important factors to their art practice. I also ask, if it’s an unusual material if there are any special care instructions. When it comes to price, and if you’re looking at the piece as an investment, you can also ask about how their prices have changed over time.
Q: Should I buy something I love even though I don’t have space for it in my house?
LL: If you love it and connect with it (and can afford it) it’s worth buying. Art is meant to be displayed but I think even if you have run out of wall space, think creatively about ways to display the work. I have purchased beautiful table top easels to utilize table space, I have even recently hung a piece over a bookcase. It’s fun to create displays that you don’t see every day.
Q: How do you know when you like something?
LL: I love this question. This is so personal but I can tell you about how I know when I like a piece for my own home. I look for pieces that make me feel something. I want work that I could spend time with, that looks different from different angles, where I continue to notice new details over time. Is it a piece where you can see yourself living with it now and in the future?
Q: How to find art when you and your partner have different tastes?
LL: I believe there is a perfect home/client for every piece and it’s my job to help connect them with that piece of art. First, have a conversation with your partner about what they would love to see in their home. Make it fun and into a great date and walk through a museum as if you could take a piece home– you’ll learn a lot about each other’s tastes. Take pictures to remember your favorite pieces. From there, you can share what you loved with a gallery and they may be able to help bridge the gap. Do some research together going to galleries and museums, and ultimately you’ll find a piece you love and it’s a great bonding experience.
Q: What are the best pieces for a gallery wall?
LL: For a gallery wall, I love to mix and match mediums and styles but keep it cohesive with repeating colors and frames. Varying sizes is also important. If you can find a larger piece to “anchor” the gallery wall, it will keep it from looking too messy with several small pieces. I also like to include a hanging sculpture-like piece that may include a ceramic or wood sculpture that can hang on your wall so each piece isn’t frame or square. These elements will help to keep your eye moving around the gallery wall.
Q: How does one start an art collection when their taste does not match their budget? For instance, I was glancing through your website at some of the pieces that were for sale and of course the ones that I gravitated towards cost anywhere from $2000-$3500 (EttaVee, Lesley Grainger)
LL: At our gallery, we do ask many of our artists to send us work at a variety of price points. Reach out to the gallery and ask if there are other sizing or custom options available. Perhaps the gallery also sells signed and numbered prints by that artist as well. Another option is working with a gallery that has payment options. We, for example, have a program where you can buy a piece of artwork over 10 months, interest-free. Perhaps $1000 is out of your budget right now but $100 a month feels a lot more doable.
Q: Does it need to be original or are signed prints ok?
LL: It’s okay to have a variety of different types of work in your collection. For prints, I try to look for works that are signed and have a low edition number. This means maybe there are only 10 in the series. Definitely anything under 100 in the edition.
Q: How do I differentiate between good abstract art and bad home goods style art?
LL: This is where a trusted gallery or art advisor can really be valuable. If you find a gallery’s style that you both like, and feel that you can trust their expertise, then they can help you make that differentiation. Usually, by just the fact that they carry an artist in their gallery helps you to know that there’s something special about their work. I could give you rules like look for work that is acrylic or oil but there’s always an exception and I have a lot of art that really love that is mixed media or uses unusual materials.
Framing + Caring For Your Art!
Q: How do you decide how to frame your art, and how do you choose frames? Based on the art or the room it’s going to be in?
LL: The rule for framing is that it is to pick a frame that lets the artwork shine. It’s meant to accentuate the piece. Usually staying away from color mats, and stick to a simple white or black will keep that timeless look for quite a while. Of course, it’s okay (and encouraged) to get out of the box from time to time like using a fun striped mat or using a large mat for a small piece to play with proportions. Sticking to 2-3 frame types per area helps to keep a gallery wall or room of art feel cohesive.
Q: Recs for art appraisal for insurance? Once you start to acquire works of art, how do you best take care of them? Can she speak on insurance and certificates of authenticity?
LL: Caring for your artwork is an important part of being a collector. If your work is valued at over $1000 then I recommend having an appraisal done that you can send to your home insurance provider. (There are specific art insurance providers but for most collections a rider on your home insurance works (like a ring, etc.)) Your receipt works as an initial appraisal for the first year. I would update the value every 5 years, or if you have seen major press, shows, etc. about one of the artists in your collection.
Additionally, other simple rules for caring for your art: Keep out of direct sunlight and frame using a UV protectant glass if it is a work on paper. Rotate your works every few years if that is possible so they don’t have the same sun or light exposure. Dust with a dry microfiber cloth (and a light touch) to clean every few months.
Q: Besides the art, what other costs should I consider?
LL: Great question. Depending on where you are purchasing from, shipping can be a huge factor in addition to the retail price of the work. If it’s a work on paper, then it will also need to be framed which adds to the cost of the work as well. If it’s a really large investment, you may want to add it to your home insurance which would add a small monthly fee as well.
Q: Should you always see art in person before buying?
LL: Seeing a work in person these days is always preferable but just isn’t always feasible these days. My number one tip if you are buying a work of art and can’t see it in person first is to ask for a short video of the piece. A video will give you a much better sense of the piece that just pictures. A video can help with scale and give you multiple angles and ways to see texture, etc.
Q: Do I have to have big money to shop in a gallery?
LL: Absolutely not. Of course, it depends on the gallery, but at our gallery we have original works of art that begin at $150. I understand that everyone has a different budget, and I love working with people who want to start their collection. You may need to be willing to look at smaller works to begin with but that’s a great way to begin and start a gallery wall.
Q: How do you know when the art price is reasonable? What goes into pricing artwork?
LL: This often comes from research and looking at a lot of artwork over time. Many of the artists that I work with price per square inch so that the pricing is consistent no matter the size. Beyond that, prices can rise over time if an artist is further along in their career, become more in demand, have work in a museum or prestigious collection, or it’s an especially intricate piece.
Q: Are NFTs or digital art worth it?
LL: Such a hot topic! I go back and forth on NFTs but ultimately will most likely not be investing in one or purchasing one myself. For me, nothing will replace a physical work that I can spend time with. The logistics of NFTs don’t necessarily make sense to me like — how do I display it? How do I keep a piece from being hacked or stolen? Will the bubble burst? However, I also understand that it’s a great way for artists to be paid and make money for their creativity and work and I am always a proponent of artists making a good living.
Q: What are the best practices when commissioning a custom piece from an artist?
LL: The major thing to remember when you are commissioning a work of art is that you chose this artist for a reason– you love their style and talent. It’s totally acceptable to let them know a preferred size, give them a photo of the room for color palette, and a short list of anything you would love to see, or do not want to see the in the piece. Past that, let the artist do their thing and shine. Some artists really enjoy the commission process and others are more hesitant, before going down the road of a commission, it’s okay to ask them how often they complete commissions, what their current timeline looks like, and if they are open to direction.You’ll get a good sense, quickly, how the process will go.
Q: Can you negotiate the price when buying from a gallery? If so, how much is appropriate?
LL: Every gallery is different and every artist is different. Sometimes there is a little “wiggle room” with a gallery or for an artist, other times, there isn’t. It’s important for artists to keep their pricing consistent to not de-value other works. However, I think it’s okay to ask if there is room to negotiate pricing. We’ll always be honest with the client. The worst that happens is that the artist or gallery says “no”. Additionally, you may have more leverage if you are a returning client with either the artist or gallery. There are absolutely artists who do not negotiate and that is absolutely okay and their choice. Ultimately, I think it’s all about being polite and respectful when asking about the possibility.