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5 steps to starting your art collection, according to a fine art expert

Does anything say you’ve made it quite like having your own art collection? Acquiring pieces you love, discovering new favourite artists and getting in early on rising stars of the art world: it sounds like a far-off dream life. But it’s actually more achievable than you might think. 

That’s because when it comes to creating a long-term art collection you love and that will stand the test of time, the hardest part can be simply starting. But how do you do that? 

We went to the experts to find out.

Rachel Simkiss from Clarendon Fine Art
Rachel Simkiss, brand director at Clarendon Fine Art

Clarendon Fine Art, a luxury contemporary British gallery with its flagship location in the heart of Mayfair, is the place to go for elegant, high-end art, with a portfolio of more than 150 artists, covering a broad cross-section of artwork from the 18th and 19th century through to post-war and contemporary artists. And if you want to know which artists you should have on your radar? Look no further than the enigmatic Rachel Simkiss, brand director at Clarendon Fine Art, who has been in the art business for more than twenty years. 

Simkiss knows exactly how to find art that speak to you personally, that you’ll want to live with forever – and how to find incredible up and coming artists. And, excitingly, now’s the time to start collecting. “There’s never been a better or more exciting time to start your own collection,” the brand director tells The Luxe Review, “The lockdown seems to have brought out so much creativity and we’re finding new talent and new methods all the time.” 

There’s never been a more exciting time to start your own collection…

“At Clarendon Fine Art, we have over 150 artists within our portfolio covering artwork and artists from 18th and 19th century to post war and contemporary – a broad cross section.” 

Here, Simkiss reveals her expert insights on exactly how to start your art collection. There’s a fine art to it… 

Be passionate about your collection 

“The main thing is to start with is passion. When collecting art, it’s very subjective, and you’ve got to connect with the piece you’re buying. There isn’t a right or wrong way when buying because it’s so personal. What you might like and what someone else will like will vary dramatically! The most important thing I would say is do you have a connection with the art, and emotional attachment.” 

Outside Clarendon Fine Art gallery
Simkiss at Clarendon Fine Art gallery

Choose pieces with your rooms in mind 

“In lockdown we’ve spent more time at home than ever before, and I think everyone is noticing particular walls that feel bare. The fact that art really transports you  – and I believe it transforms your life –  we’ve seen more enquiries than ever

“When choosing, it really depends on a number of things, but particularly where you are looking for: which room, and even which house.  Art changes the dynamic of a room. In your dining room, a piece of art might be a great conversation starter, for example.  But you might want a different vibe  for something hanging above your bed.

“Think about what other artists or paintings you like.  What style are they? Figurative, landscape, cityscapes, seascapes… are they moody, full of colour or black and white? It’s such a personal decision, and it can be a very exciting journey.”

Investing in art should be an emotional investment first. A monetary investment, in some ways, should be a bonus….

Keep it personal 

“The first thing to think about when buying art is that it’s going to be hanging on your wall and you’ll be seeing it every day.  With that in mind: buy something that you love, something that ‘speaks to you’, which you can connect with, as its really personal. But when it comes to investment – that’s very different. 

“My first piece was an LS Lowry print. I grew up in the Midlands, and my grandmother came from there and introduced me to a lot of 20th century artists.  She studied in Paris and lived in the Latin Quarter – she was very artistic and a real influence. Every time I look at that print,  I’m transported back to time with her. 

“I discovered the artist Christian Hook’s work while in Gibraltar one year, and that was a huge moment for me personally – and I now represent him in the UK and globally.”

Investing in art is a journey – and a gallery can introduce you to the artists rising in value

“I think investing in art should be an emotional investment first. A monetary investment, in some ways, should be a bonus.

“When you visit our Clarendon Fine Art gallery, the great thing is our gallery directors can help inspire you by introducing you to some incredible artists – modern, post war and contemporary.  Working with the gallery, we can take you on an exciting journey into the art world.

“It’s an exciting time to invest in an artist – particularly some of our emerging talents. We’ve seen multiple artists – perhaps we’d call them ‘blue chip’ artists – where you can see a very clear forecast of how their art has gone up (in Century terms when we’re looking at our grand masters) and for our living artists, an increase in value in the last few years.

“A great example is Christian Hook. In the last five years, the value of his art has increased by over 1,700 per cent.  That increase is based on a number of factors: Museum acquisitions, commissions, being authenticated by the financial and art world, and  all of these things have a huge impact on the value of your art. 

“His investment is emotional too: to see his new collections is a fantastic journey.”

Sometimes people feel that the more money they spend, the better the art… that’s not true!

Spending more money doesn’t automatically equal better art 

“There are a lot of misconceptions about the art world and buying art. You don’t need to know everything about art, or the artist, to buy art.  It’s important to buy something that you love. Sometimes people feel the more money they spend, the better the art .. that’s not true!

“Buying and hanging art on your wall means that  it’s going to be around for a long time. You’ll be looking at it every day, so make sure you love it.”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions 

“Clarendon Fine Art really prides itself on finding the right piece of art or portfolio for our clients.  It’s our most important job and it’s such an amazing journey.  

“When you walk in, one of the key things is you want to feel really comfortable, and not daunting – we want you to be able to ask anything. It’s the reason why our business was set up by our CEO.  The art world can sometimes feel stuffy and elitist, but we are the total opposite.  

“We want our clients to feel well looked after. The dealers should help tell the story of the art, and take you on an exciting journey.  Collecting art and being able to be surrounded by art is one of the most exciting, therapeutic things you can have. Going into a gallery should tick all those boxes.”

Ready to start your own art collection? Clarendon Fine Art galleries are open now. Head to clarendonfineart.com to start browsing and to find your nearest boutique.

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Bex April May is an experienced entertainment, travel and lifestyle journalist based in London, writing for The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, MTV, Shortlist and more. Follow her adventures on Twitter @bexlectric and on Instagram @bexaprilmay

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