Building a rich art collection on any budget with Art Month Sydney

Have you considered starting an art collection, but don’t know how to begin? Art Month Sydney is on now until 28 March with a multitude of art experiences to explore. The much-loved annual celebration of art and imagination is the perfect place to gain insight from artists, curators, gallerists, collectors and philanthropists, sharing their top tips for how to build a valuable art collection. And the good news is, whether you have $200 or $20,000 to spend­ you can have art pieces you love.

You don't need to be rich to collect art! - Art Month Sydney. Rhianna Walcott, Associate Director Artereal Gallery and Art Month Board Member, shares tips and insight for how to start starting collecting art.
Rhianna Walcott, Associate Director Artereal Gallery and Art Month Board Member Photograph: Ella Harkin

Art comes in many shapes and forms. Stories and themes come to visualisation across painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, prints, drawings, video, digital and so much more. Artists engage with a range of artistic mediums from fibre and clay to various metals, resins, paper, canvas, watercolours, oils and acrylics, as well as naturally sourced and discarded objects. Perhaps you like still life, landscape, abstract, figurative, geometric, realist, portraiture, bold, colourful, emotive, explosive, big, small. The list is endless.

So where should you start?
Rhianna Walcott, Associate Director Artereal Gallery and Art Month Board Member says “you need to develop your eye. To do this you need to start immersing yourself in art. This is the fun part. Start checking out galleries and artists online (most galleries have an extensive presence online and are all over Instagram) and from there start visiting the galleries that catch your attention.”

The more art you see, the more you will start to develop a really clear understanding of your own taste.

Walcott recommends talking to gallerists and putting the feelers out. “The more information you are willing to share with the gallery staff the more they can start to help you find the works available that might suit you best. Don’t expect this to be a quick process. Part of the fun of buying art is the journey of discovery it takes you on.”

Consider buying photography, works on paper or ceramics. Artworks by younger artists working across these three mediums tend to be more affordable than painting and sculpture.

“Now is a particularly exciting time to look at ceramics, a medium which has often been denigrated as craft in the past but which in recent years has experienced a real renaissance and new level of acceptance in the contemporary art world. Check out Experimental Ceramics Studio

Once you decide on a purchase you may be able to pay an upfront deposit and negotiate a 6-12-week payment plan with the gallery. Or simply pay it all up front and take your new artwork away with you then and there!

Jarrod Rawlins: Senior Curator, Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) and Art Month Sydney Board Member, encourages buyers to take the plunge. “Spend as much money as you can make available, don’t start small, get on in there, what have you got to lose.”

“Don’t skimp on the extras you may need to spend on i.e. get good framing, pay for a good art transport service, pay someone to hang your house properly, this all makes a huge difference…”

Be radical, consider something that might surprise even you, collecting art should not be approached with conservatism, be bold, be ridiculous, you’ll have more fun in the end.

Oh and… “Don’t try and match an artwork with your interior, seriously, get over it,” he muses.

You don't need to be rich to collect art! - Art Month Sydney. Installation view of artworks in Collectors' Space exhibition
Art Month Sydney, Collectors’ Space exhibition installation view. Courtesy the artists, Collectors’ Space and Art Month Sydney

You don’t need to be rich to collect art! Click here to find out more about what’s on during Art Month Sydney, dates, times and bookings.

Most events are free and the showcase includes exhibitions, workshops, talks and tours, plus a range of events designed to help you begin, build and care for your art collection, while also showing support for Sydney’s extraordinary community of emerging and established artists.

Collectors’ Space Exhibition: You Never Forget Your First, 4 to 28 March Journey through the private collections of practitioners, philanthropists and arts leaders across NSW: Evan Hughes, Chris Kirby and Ray Monde, Megan Monte, Michelle Newton, Jasper Knight and Isabelle Toland.
Inside The Collectors’ Space, 14 March
Curator Gina Mobayed, discusses art collecting with the dynamic creatives behind this year’s ‘Collectors’ Space’ exhibition.
Young Collectors, Wagner Contemporary, 20 March
Barry Keldoulis, Director of Sydney Contemporary, at Wagner Contemporary for an informative and engaging talk for young collectors.

Galleries invite art lovers to explore art in the evenings in a different part of the city each Friday and Saturday night. Join Art Month Sydney walking tours, followed by installations, immersive curated experiences, and make a final stop at one of the participating pop-up bars from the east to the west.
Parramatta Art at Night, Friday, 5 March, 6-9pm
Green Square Art at Night, Saturday, 6 March, 3-7pm
After Dark at Hyde Park Barracks, Thursday 11 March, 5-9pm
East Sydney Art at Night, Saturday 13 March, 3-9pm
Chippendale and Redfern Art at Night, Saturday 20 March, 3-9pm
Paddington and Woollahra Art at Night, Saturday 27 March, 3-9pm