At the addition of each new piece of art, proper record-keeping and display are vital. Susan Laney, owner of Laney Contemporary in Savannah, stresses the importance of documentation. She suggests making a template form for all works in a collection and recording information such as artist, title, date of the work, medium, size, where purchased, current location, and so on. Susan says it is best to enter this information into a database and to make a hard copy to keep in a file (along with the certificate of authenticity, if available).
Another practice Susan suggests is photographing every piece in a collection, either professionally or non-professionally, depending on the level of your inventory. In addition to keeping records for each work in a database and in a file, Susan suggests having them secured on the back the frame of the work to serve as an information backup. A good framer should be able to attach a document pocket to the back of most framing at your request.
The effort made to catalog helps give provenance and validity to your art. Susan notes, “Once a collection is properly cataloged and evaluated, it then becomes apparent if additional professional services will be needed.” This includes appraisers, restorationists, or insurance specialists. The entire cataloging project can easily be the do-it-yourself kind, but should time constraints or the need for a trained-eye be a factor, professional consultants can be hired to assist with the job.
Continue reading in the Spring 2018 issue of Paprika Southern
The Bottom Line of Collecting
Leslie Lovell, Lori Judge, and Susan Laney all agree: buy only what you love! In the end, that’s what collecting is all about. Sometimes, other factors creep in to a buying decision, but Lori advises, “If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.”
Remember, the pieces in a collection give back in very specific ways each day. Be sure that you have researched enough to have an understanding of that connection. As Leslie reminds, “Have fun and choose things that speak to you, because these pieces are going to surround you.” A new collector may not fully understand how a well-selected work of art can enhance their life for as long as they own it, but it is one of the greatest joys of collecting. Susan sums it up, saying “Even if your taste changes, for the most part the real love that you have for a piece is a forever thing.” Yes, a forever thing: such is the love of art.
Explore art galleries or attend art shows. It is important to educate yourself about what is being created.
Set a budget every year. This is a practical way to make your collection grow.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Not all pricing is up for discussion, but often you can work out something satisfactory to all parties, especially on major purchases.
Become a part of your community’s art events to help develop your own taste, preferences, and knowledge in art.
Don’t follow trends in art; buy only what you truly love.
Use art talks and show openings as an opportunity to get to know artists personally. Forging a relationship with an artist can deepen your appreciation for their work.
Make the investment of time to catalog your collection. Turn to a professional if you need help in this task.
Find a framer who understands fine art and who can collaborate with you to best showcase your collection.
Don’t buy art purely as a financial investment; think of it instead as an investment in your quality of life and in your community.
#1 Tip from Lori, Leslie, & Susan:
Buy only what you love!