How to Collect and Display Art in Your Home on Any Budget

(This post is sponsored by Soraa Home, the only LED lighting on the market that shows light in it’s full spectrum of color.)

I didn’t discover Basquiat until I was in my early twenties, decades after his name had become household among the world’s art elite. Living and working in LA, Aaron and I often times found ourselves in the homes of people whose living room art collections rivaled a gallery at the Guggenheim. On one such occasion, Aaron was shooting photos and was directed to “move his ladder further away from the Basquiat”. With art on every side of him and no familiarity with the works of the late artist, he had to admit that he didn’t know which direction the ladder should go. He was sent home that day after the shoot with a copy of this documentary and strict instructions to watch it immediately.

That wasn’t the first time that real art piqued my interest—I was the kid who asked to go to galleries on family vacations– but that was the first day that I recall a strong desire to start collecting real art of our own, even if our budget was modest. How to collect art? I wasn’t quite sure yet…

To clarify, I wasn’t imagining the day when we would sit at a Sotheby’s auction, elevating a paddle in the air for a piece to the tune of six figures or beyond like some collectors. I was imagining replacing our big box store framed prints with original pieces that would move me the same way the pieces in the halls of some of my clients did. Art that would exemplify our point of view and aesthetic in the same way that clothing choices or furniture do.

When we were designing Our Austin Casa, I tried to be thoughtful about where we would want art and to plan the lighting accordingly. This is one of my favorite spots in the house, partly because of those sconces that I adore, but mostly because of this Clare Oswalt piece that Aaron gave me for Christmas last year. (I have followed and love her work for years, since we were in Los Angeles.)

I recently swapped out the LED bulbs in these sconces for new Soraa Radiant bulbs and immediately did the same for other sconces. It made such a huge difference. The light radiates from the Soraa Home bulbs in such a beautiful, non harsh way and the colors of the art appear so much more vibrant and saturated. It turns out that most LED bulbs have color gaps. They don’t show deep reds and true whites, technically referred to as R9 and RW. These gaps make everything feel washed out. Only Soraa Radiant shows the full spectrum of color.

(Below: old bulbs on the left, Soraa Radiant bulbs on the right. All of the colors are more saturated with the Soraa Home bulbs and the glow of the light is much harsher with the older bulbs. The difference is actually much greater in person!)

Ready to start your own collection? Here are 5 Tips on How to Collect Art on any Budget:

  1. Buy what you love. There’s certainly an argument to be made for buying artists on the rise whose works will undoubtedly double in value in the near future, but focusing on art that is compelling to you is a surefire way to create a collection of art that you love and will also likely still increase in value over time.  Not sure what you love? Visiting Museums and galleries is a great way to discover the kind of art that speaks to you and your own unique perspective.
  2. If you’re not in a big city, you can still go online. How to Collect Art? Sites like Artsy and Paddle8 make collecting art from Banksy to that up-and-coming artist with a tiny studio in Queens accessible to anyone. Also, save those nickels and dimes and plan a trip to the Affordable Art Fair.
  3. Ask questions. When making purchasing decisions, asking questions about an artist’s background or why a gallery has chosen to represent that artist will give you some insight into their career and trajectory, and perhaps even the subject matter.
  4. Give yourself a budget. If you’re just starting to figure out how to collect art, you will first want to know how much money you can spend. Know the amount you would like to invest in art this year and stick your budget. Go for quality over quantity. Use that budget to buy one truly spectacular piece and grow your collection next year when you have allocated another part of your budget to your collection. The first purchase can be daunting, but there’s no better time to start collecting than now.
  5. Let it shine. Once you have your piece, be sure to have it professionally framed if need be. For works on paper, matting materials should be acid-free. Traditionally there’s a glass layer over the front, but acrylic is another option that has the advantage of being shatterproof and lightweight. Although it does scratch much more easily than glass. Whatever the material, be sure that it’s been treated to protect from UV rays. For paint on canvas, skip the glass (and possibly the frame, too) so that you can fully appreciate each and every sweep and stroke of the brush. For the best possible viewing experience, be sure to opt for Soraa Radiant Light bulbs, the only bulbs that guarantee you’re viewing your piece in it’s full spectrum of color.

Photography for How to Collect Art by Katie Jameson

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  1. Those lights sound nice! Great tips. What type of floor do you have? I like it. Perfect for pets.

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Jen Pinkston

      01/14/2019

      It just sealed concrete! No stain or any special finish. It is very durable, but scratches actually super easy– much more easily than wood. You don’t notice the scratches as much because it’s just gray on gray, but when the light hits it directly you can really seem them very well. Also I think you can have them buffed out.

  2. This is so timely! We are in the process of building a house and need to make a decision about all of our lightbulbs. Going to send this to our contractor now!

  3. This is so interesting! I have a few pieces from local artists that I love, but I have never given much thought to the UV Glass or Lighting.

    • Jen Pinkston

      01/14/2019

      I know! I was lucky to have a framer who pointed out the tips about UV glass, but I didn’t know these lightbulbs existed until recently!

  4. Beautiful post, Jen! I always love these home related posts! Thanks for all of the tips!

  5. OMG, I love your CLaire Oswalt! I have followed her on Instagram for years and love her work!

    • Jen Pinkston

      01/14/2019

      Me too!! Aaron gave it to me for Christmas last year and it’s my favorite. It’s the one thing I’m carrying out on my back along with my children in case of a fire!

  6. Courtney

    01/15/2019

    I’m curious what the cost of a “real” piece of art is? I’m not sure I could afford something like that and might have to stick to my target finds!

    • Jen Pinkston

      01/15/2019

      This definitely would vary! You could find a $15 piece from your artist neighbor down the street that I personally wouldn’t think of as less “valuable” just because of the price tag. Some art can definitely get exorbitant, but it doesn’t have to be. You might be surprised to find what you can get directly from an artist whose work you love!

  7. danielle

    01/15/2019

    This piece is beautiful! I’ve actually never given a lot of thought to searching out actual artists for art in our home but now I’m super intrigued! Definitely going to use some of these tips.

  8. Geri D.

    01/15/2019

    I loved “focusing on art that is compelling to you is a surefire way to create a collection of art that you love”. There are so many museum pieces that really don’t speak to me. I’d rather have one piece I love than a collection of art that’s worth a lot of money but isn’t my style.

    • Jen Pinkston

      01/15/2019

      I completely agree! It’s definitely subjective in a lot of ways.

  9. brittany

    01/15/2019

    Love this post, Jen! Have to check out these light bulbs!