A Guide to Navigating the Art World

Almost everyone’s initial understanding of art is that it is intimidating. Though I am an Art History major, I still struggle with feeling like I don’t know enough to intelligently talk about art. When discussing art with my peers or colleagues, the conversation is usually initiated with some sort of disclosure: “I really like this piece but I’m not really an art person” or “I just don’t think I know enough to state my opinion.” While knowledge is valuable, this sort of reluctant approach should instead be a confident one. We all talk about our favorite books and movies without hesitancy. We should be able to discuss art in the same way.

Bottom line: regardless of one’s exposure to the art world, anyone is entitled to and perfectly capable of understanding and discovering the joys of art. While there is always something new to learn, art is for everyone to appreciate! In order to navigate a seemingly intimidating space, here are some helpful tips to consider when appreciating or even purchasing art.

Doors I by whitespace artist Amy Pleasant, 26 x 34 inches, ink and lino cut on paper

  1. Do your Research: Everyone has personal taste when it comes to the creative realm, but taste is also something to cultivate. You may not know that you enjoy large abstract images, expressionist photography or geometric drawings until you’ve exposed yourself to a range of artistic movements. It’s important to expose yourself to as much as possible before determining what you do or do not like. Consider visiting museums, art fairs or local galleries to cultivate your taste. Give yourself enough time to understand what you truly enjoy visually, especially if you are considering buying art for your home or office space.
  2. Explore your Options: There are many places to buy art, but consider your local options before looking elsewhere. Every major city is teeming with passionate artists ready to show their work. Look to galleries who work closely with and support artists of all types. Look to passionate art dealers who know their artists’ work inside and out. They will be able to provide support for the artists’ future credibility and knowledge to you as you search for the right pieces to enjoy.
  3. Maintain Perspective: Just because you are interested in “buying art” doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune! Depending on the artist and gallery, you can find works ranging from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Whether you are an art collector or someone just looking to buy something to enjoy, affordable pieces are more than within the realm of possibility. Maintain the right perspective in terms of what works for you financially and you’ll find something for the right price.
  4. Discover New Things: Art is not just painting or drawing! The art world encompasses everything from public art, design, photography, sculpture and installation to mixed media and painting. You may discover that you enjoy conceptual art as much as black and white photography. Don’t limit yourself based on just one facet of art! Be open to discovering new creative preferences.
  5. Remember what you Love: Pay attention to how certain pieces make you feel; especially when considering purchasing a piece for your residence or office space. It is also important to know things about the artist such as: their previous work, who is writing about them, what they have accomplished and where they started from. These facts are not only interesting to learn but also smart to note so you can determine the future value of a piece. Regardless of whether a work will increase in monetary value, if you simply love seeing a piece of art hanging above your kitchen table every day then that is enough value as well!

Sources: CNN, The non-millionaire’s guide to buying art by Kate Bryan

Written by: Hilleary Gramling

One thought on “A Guide to Navigating the Art World

  1. Jesse Jamison

    I really appreciate your tips. I want to buy some new artwork for some of the blank walls in my house. I really like the tip of keeping my purchases within reason. I want the art to speak to me, but I also need to be able to afford it. I will probably have a budget in mind before I even get to the gallery.


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