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How To Start An Art Collection Without Breaking The Bank

ByThe Artling Team
How To Start An Art Collection Without Breaking The Bank

The Pool by Elif Sanem Karakoç

“Banksy Painting ‘Devolved Parliament’ Sells for $12 Million”

“Artist Yoshitomo Nara's Cartoon Girl Breaks Record, Sold For 25 Million”

When we read headlines like these, we often think that collecting art is only for the rich and famous. And it's true to a certain degree - buying artwork by renowned artists can be quite an expensive affair. But that’s a small segment of all the art world. 

For the rest, collecting art doesn't have to feel out of reach or like a distant dream. You can start an art collection on a budget and it’s a lot easier than you think. 

There can’t be a better example than Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. Once described as "proletarian art collectors," this couple amassed a collection of over 4,782 works while working as civil servants in New York City. Their collection, consisting mostly of minimalist and conceptual art, has been called one of the most important post-1960s art collections in the United States. What truly set them apart from what most may consider the stereotypical art collector is that they only bought pieces they personally liked and could carry home on the subway or in a taxi and displayed and stored their collection in their rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Buying your first artwork can be an overwhelming task when you don’t know what to buy, where to buy, or how to buy within your budget. Whether you are looking for a contemporary statement piece or want to invest in art for your home, there are many ways to build an impressive art collection without breaking the bank and have a richly rewarding experience in the process. The Artling shows you how to curate an art collection you love and feel proud of while staying within your budget.


Crystal Stilts - Estella Ng

Setting a budget 

Not surprisingly, the first step to collecting art on a budget is actually establishing your budget. This budget will decide what’s available for you to buy and where. Start small and gradually increase your budget as you grow your collection, confidence, and understanding of art. A budget of $1,000 or less could be a good starting point but this could vary depending upon your income. 

Consider your purchasing patterns. Do you intend to buy one original artwork worth $1,000 every month or multiple lesser-priced pieces? A good rule to follow is quality over quantity since your budget is not a static indicator and will change in the future.

Defining your goals 

Defining your motivation or goals for buying art will have a huge impact on the kind of collection you will end up with. A good approach is to buy what you love and gives you joy. You will have to live with the art you buy so it’s better to buy something that will inspire you every day. 

Creating and sticking to your budget is important but that doesn’t mean settling for something you don’t love. In the same breath, don’t devalue an artwork because it is priced below your perceived price of “good art”. If you really like the artwork, buy it, whether the price is $50 or $500.

Many people think of buying art as an investment. While it is a valid line of thought, it's critical for new buyers to understand that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing in art. If a return on art investment is your primary driver for collecting art, you will have to look at mid-career or established artists which means more expensive works.

Where to start

Now that you have set your budget and defined your goals, it’s time to do some homework. To ensure that you have an enjoyable experience collecting art, immerse yourself fully in the art world. Learn about the various types of artworks, mediums, and styles; visit art fairs and exhibitions; browse various online art galleries (do check out The Artling's art and design collections). When you see more art, you will start understanding the difference between various techniques and styles used by different artists. Most importantly, you will train your mind and eye to identify the types of art you love and enjoy more than others.

What should you buy first

Photography and Limited Edition Prints:

Unique works like paintings are one-off and therefore, can be expensive. Photography and limited editions are created in multiples which means they are generally more affordable. Limited editions are also cheaper to ship since they can be packed rolled for shipment. If there is a particular artist or a famous artist that you like but whose works are too expensive for your budget, consider their limited editions as they will likely have a lower price tag but are still valuable, especially if signed by the artist. Embracing prints is a great way to begin your art collection. 


Desire - Prakornpatara Janthakhaisorn


Reflection - Wiktoria Wojciechowska

Look beyond paintings:

Most buyers favor framed canvases as their first works, overlooking sculptures and design objects as you have to get more creative in displaying these works in a home setting. We recommend considering small-scaled sculptures and design objects as they are usually priced to sell. Well-made objects signed by the artist could be a valuable addition and add an eclectic feel to your collection. Works on paper like drawings, etchings, or illustrated books are other options that are well represented and usually cost much less. 


Green Happiness - John Martono


Head Collage: PerCeption No.1 - Jiyoun Kim


If original paintings are your preferred choice of medium, there are some ways you can buy museum-worthy pieces for a much lower price. While paintings from mid-career to established and famous artists can cost a fortune, investing in their smaller pieces is a balanced way of collecting new art. You get the essence of the artists at a less intimidating price. 

You can still add stunning original paintings to your art collection if you are willing to explore emerging and slightly lesser-known artists. Buying from these under-the-radar artists means you will be among their early collectors and with a little luck on your side, could turn into a richly rewarding investment. Added benefits include unique works hanging on your walls instead of replicated prints, and the right to brag about your knowledge of and support for emerging artists.

So how do you find an emerging or a new artist with potential? Start with their CV, look for any solo shows or stints at art residencies, appearance in group exhibitions, if they’ve received any press coverage or if they are active in interesting and thriving communities. Follow them on social media and observe reactions to their artwork from their followers. Remember, starting an art collection is about using your eye over listening to others. If you like the work of an emerging artist and it's within your budget, buy it. 


Downing - Yangyang Pan


Annie - Katie Wyatt


Lastly, don’t forget to showcase the beautiful work you have bought with proper framing. While many works can be hung as-is, find out if your desired artwork comes stretched or framed before buying, or you may have to set aside some budget for framing.


Rest, Yejin - Jaesun Kim


Spirit Breathe- Yellow Phaleonopsis - Sara Ooi

Buying online

With transparent pricing, easy access to a wide variety of artworks, and the ability to compare artists, galleries, and prices from the comfort of your home makes buying art online a very efficient and economical option for new art collectors. No more asking for price lists from multiple galleries and studios with limited inventories. You can take your time, browse artworks from all over the world, buy your favorite original art for as little as $50, and have it delivered to your doorstep. If you feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, you can use handy filters like color, price, style, etc. to narrow down your search.



When you buy artwork from online art galleries like The Artling, each artwork comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the artist or gallery. This certificate is proof that the artwork is authentic and is extremely helpful when you want to insure, sell, or even donate the artwork.

Hiring an art consultant

If you are short on time or unsure of what artwork to select, working with an art consultant is a very convenient option. An art consultant can quickly find a wide variety of artworks based on your requirements and budget, but they will also help you make a more informed purchase. Having a basic understanding of your requirement will save time for both you and the consultant. At The Artling, you can avail of our dedicated art consultancy services or chat with our expert curators from any product page.


Now that you know how to start your art collection on a budget, why not browse art under $1000 to get started.

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