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Purchasing your first ‘real’ piece of artwork can be a daunting experience and its easy to feel intimidated by the process and options available. It’s really about educating yourself, setting a budget and sticking to it. Cristina Salmastrelli, Director of Affordable Art Fair shares her expert tips.

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 Your personality is all over your wardrobe, but is it up on your walls? I’m not talking about the mass-market posters, or broken-framed “abstracts” you found on a stoop, I am talking about art. Magnificently stunning, beautiful, soul-changing works of art that embody who you are: your taste, your look, your energy.

Join me this month as we paint the picture (pun absolutely intended) of who you are and what you love through contemporary art. And you may think that good art equals expensive art, but I’m going to burst that bubble: Anyone can fall in love with a work of art and live with it every day, no matter your knowledge of art or your budget. Herewith, my six steps to creating your own contemporary art collection without breaking the bank:

Rule #1: All You Need Is Love

The true investment when purchasing a piece of art is the joy it brings you every day in your home or office. This feeling will bring you ten times more satisfaction than buying a piece of art for any other reason.

Rule #2: Trust Your Art Gut—You Have One!

It might be cheesy, but it’s true: A life without risk is no risk at all—be brave and confident. Go with your intuition when seriously contemplating a piece of art to purchase. Some of the most rewarding pieces I own are the ones that initially made me step outside of my comfort zone. Do not worry about what others think; this piece is for you and you only.

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Rule #3: Be Inquisitive

There are no dumb questions in the art world: Always ask! When the art world oooohs and aaahhs over a dead shark in a tank of formaldehyde, all questions become relative. So if you have questions about a piece of art, ask. The answers will help you feel more comfortable and then when it’s hanging in your home, you can give your friends and family the background of the piece, the artist’s inspiration and, and explain just why you fell in love with it.

A few of my favorite questions to ask:

  • How long did it take the artist to make this piece?
  • What influenced the artist to create this work of art?
  • Is this medium different than what the artists usually works in?
  • Why do you (the gallerist) represent this artist?

Rule #4: Get to Know Your Type

Go online, research genres, and find some works that you connect with organically. Do you like photography, oil paintings, or drawings? Take note on what subjects and colours draw your eye. Knowing what you like will lead to your feeling more confident when it comes to purchasing a work and ultimately, this knowledge will give you the foundation to living with a work that you love.

Rule #5: Understand Your Needs

Figure out where you want to hang a piece of art in your home. Do you have a blank space in the living room, bedroom, or bathroom? Never forget about the bathroom! That is where you can put the funkiest pieces of art. Wherever you are looking to put your new artwork, measure the area where you are planning to hang the piece and note these dimensions.

Rule #6: Define Your Budget

Next, and be honest, what is your budget? People think that if you don’t have the mega bucks that this “Art buying thing” isn’t for you. You’re wrong! There is artwork out there, beautiful, insightful pieces made by emerging artists for R1500. Stick with me all month as I show you how and where to find it.


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