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Tips For New Arts Collectors

Art appreciation is something to be acquired. You need to know your local galleries and their offerings. Get the feel of the artists and the medium they paint (e.g. oils, watercolors, acrylic, charcoal pencil etchings, etc.) Discover your taste of painting subjects (e.g. landscape, abstract, animals, birds/flowers, human figure, still life, etc). In short, start your journey towards appreciating good art.

For new collector, know some basic differences between Chinese and Western paintings. Chinese paintings are done with brushes and inks on the absorbent rice paper. Its technique is displayed in the skilful sweeps, touches and rhythm of the brush strokes in the interplay of free expression and empty space. Western painting use oils, acrylics and sometimes watercolors on canvas.

The technical skills can be seen in the representational outlines of the subjects and layering of the oils onto the canvas. Generally, but not all the time, paintings on oils command a higher price than inks or watercolors. This is because fine art paintings originated in the West and all their masterpieces are primary in oils. But of late in the 1990s, Chinese ink paintings are being recognized as treasured collectibles.

The paintings of the first-generation Chinese masters now fetch phenomenal sums. For example, a Fu Baoshi masterpiece on Tang Dynasty's beauties taking a stroll was auctioned for a record HK$10.78 million in 1996.

Where To Start?

Start your art quest by visiting some of the more established and reputable galleries with a good range of art works. A lot of people don't go into an art gallery because it is very intimidating. Be not afraid of art and have fun. Visit the galleries and attend the exhibitions, you need the exposure to know what is good and bad art. Listen to the experts, art dealers and artists and make friends.

Check with the galleries for a calendar of their upcoming exhibitions. Most galleries stage al least two to three exhibitions a year to introduce new artists or bring others because of popular demand. They can either be solos or two to three-artist exhibitions. Such events are a good way to immerse yourself in an artist's works and know him personally.

Buying Tips

There was a time about 10 years ago, customers were buying landscape paintings but now we have people buying according to their taste. Don't buy in a hurry, know your taste. You also shouldn't be buying according to the furniture as after awhile the furniture gets moved around. Instead, you should set different moods for different parts of the house.

There are two ways to buying art for decoration or for pleasure. With art, it has to be an illogical commitment, as when you buy a painting, you are buying the artist's commitment to his craft that has taken years for him to develop. Half the pleasure is following the growth of the artist. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, you grow and improve with each purchase.

Originals And Limited Editions

As far as originals go, the more established the artist. the more his works will be priced at a premium. So it is good to start collecting promising new artists and follow their development to full potential m next 10-20 years. Always set yourself an art budget which is always the last part of the renovation process. Start with posters or better still, limited editions.

Limited editions are cheaper than originals. Limited editions will always bear the artists signature and are numbered e.g. a copy is the 10th out of 100 limited copies made. Limited editions are originals and can be bronze castings, sculptures or etchings, serigraphs or lithograph prints. Some are hand-pulled and handpressed and etched onto the plate/print.

The plate is always destroyed and in sculpture, for example, they make only 9 pieces. These real limited editions are quite different from the commercially produced limited posters or acrylic prints which have no value. You want to buy a real painting not a plastic Renoir.

Art As Investment

For those who may still be toying with idea of investing in art, experts stresses that the most important criteria is that you must love the piece that you buy. Remember that you have to live with it on your walls. It should speak to you on levels other than from the purely monetary angle.

Some of the most exclusive art pieces in the world never see the light of day as they belong individuals who buy with the intention of passing it on to the next generation. The best place to start is with the gallery owner who is able to give you an objective view on the artist's work, and even then, make sure you ask questions.

Honest art dealers will tell you not to see your art collection as an investment. Art appreciation is an investment. Yes, sometimes we resell, sometimes the art piece goes up in value, but to think of a return in investment, you have to wait 10 to 20 years. People buy art because they love prioritize buying an art piece over other things.

If you buy art just to invest you are likely to make mistakes. But if you believe that they are investments, then be prepared for a long payback period. But as mentioned, start with the work of new and promising artists. If and when these artists get famous then their works will appreciate in value.

Generational Value

Always remember that art pieces (local, Asian or Chinese and contemporary/traditional) of first- and second-generations artists, who are now very established, command a premium. That is why some galleries position themselves to market only third- or even fourth-generation artists as their works are new, affordable and have the potential for subsequent value appreciation.

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