Art is an essential component of any home, from a studio apartment to a sprawling estate. But, starting an art collection can be a perplexing, sometimes intimidating endeavor. After all, few objects are more subjective than a piece of artwork.

However, the reality is that collecting art can be a fun and affordable adventure. Here are a few ideas for anyone looking to adorn the walls of a new home, invite variety into an existing collection, or even acquire that first piece of art.

Engage the experts

Context is a powerful attribute that can elevate the meaning, relatability or intrigue of art in the eyes of the observer.

The best way to understand context is to talk to gallery owners and artists themselves to learn about the history of the work, says Tony Karman, president of EXPO Chicago, the international contemporary art exhibition running from Sept. 13-17.

Karman encourages collectors at every level to explore the art world by visiting galleries and museums, looking at art online and in publications, and doing background research on a specific artist or piece that’s of interest to them.

Think spatially

From a practical standpoint, new and experienced collectors also want to think about art in a spatial sense. Where are you going to place the art in your home, how will the space accentuate the piece and vice versa?

Ceiling height, surfaces, lighting, room location, wall space and room décor are all factors that will affect how, where and when a piece of art will be viewed.

Embrace the chase

Collectors usually find the process of discovering and acquiring art as enjoyable as owning it. It’s the old journey-destination maxim.

For some, it’s about raising the paddle at an auction, attending an opening at a River North gallery, or going to international shows like EXPO.

For others, it’s about digging through flea markets and trekking to outsider art fairs. You can find great art anywhere. As Karman says, “I love the magic that happens when you come around a corner and a piece of art just stops you in your tracks.”

You have to explore to make that magic happen.

Buy what you love

While some aficionados collect investments, remember that most of the art you acquire throughout your life will probably wind up being an investment in your happiness.

“Art collecting is about acquiring works that you want to live with,” says Karman. “The walls are what make a house. But it’s what you put on those walls that make a home.”

Written by @properties
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