I’m not sure what initially got me into art, but it’s always been somewhat of an interest. I don’t come from a particularly artistic family and if you asked my Dad to name ten artists, I don’t think he’d be able to. Every art collector and art fan has an origin story. This is mine.
I’ve always had issues coloring within the lines, cutting with safety scissors, and folding the wings on a paper airplane. The problem is that I’m 35 years old and nothing has really changed. I’m absolute rubbish at art. Drawing, painting, playing with Lego, building model cars, talking to women – total shit at all of them. I can still see the disappointment in my parent’s faces, as I’d look for compliments on my Lego sculpture, only to realize they’ve seen the same multi-colored vertical rectangle, on several occasions. I think that is why I’m as drawn to art, as I am (pun inserted purposefully). It’s amazing to see what artists can create. Kids these days have YouTube and can watch the ‘People Are Amazing’ video series, which consists of intense feats of dare-devilling, but we didn’t have that growing up. To me, it’s much more impressive to see what artists can create. That’s the real skill worth rewarding.
The first piece of art that I can remember purchasing with my own money was a baby killer whale Haida print by Clarence Mills. Growing up in British Columbia, Canada, I always appreciated the red and black aesthetic of Haida art. I carry a few Haida tattoos on my body these days, but my tastes have developed over time, as is known to happen. Art collecting and appreciation is a constantly changing, ever evolving process. Tastes change. In university (2001-2005), I discovered Banksy’s street art. I loved his pieces. They were cheeky and in your face, but also required a bit of thought, after the initial laugh abated. If I knew prints were available to purchase, I would have picked a few up. This is one of my biggest regrets, but I was obviously too busy with my studies! (I know my Mom will be reading this, so studies, is the term I chose to use. Realistically, drinking, strip clubs, skateboarding, or staring at the cute girl in class, could be used interchangeably.)
As an adult, the first piece I purchased was Nick Walker’s ‘TMA New York’, on the secondary market. I had been looking for a New York piece and absolutely fell in love with it. As I was checking for pieces, I couldn’t understand why anyone would spend more than a few hundred dollars on a print. Just buy the original! What an idiot! After looking for originals, I quickly realized the error in my ways. It’s interesting how quickly I went from ‘I will never own a print’ to literally contacting artists, asking if they would be so kind to release ‘piece x’, as a print.
I fell into a few online urban art forums in 2010 and discovered a whole new world. There were people like me out there. In the first few years, I picked up a ton of work, before losing my job. As my wife wouldn’t let me skip out on rent payments (jerk!), I sold off my collection piece by piece, eventually parting with my three Nick Walker prints. (To this day, I still haven’t been able to find a Nick Walker print that I like, at a reasonable price). After selling the collection, I got into horology and hockey jersey collecting and art collecting took a backseat. There was probably a year that I didn’t even check to see what was being released. But as expected, those hobbies didn’t really hold my interest and I was back to collecting art.
There are about 500-1000 artists that I follow in some capacity, while always trying to identify new artists to add to that list. I know that I will never own work from most of them, but I enjoy seeing their development and progression. I’m still learning to decipher what is “good” art versus what is derivative or over-hyped. I know what I like and as a 300 pound man, I need to trust my gut – because it’s the one running things these days (*no actual running occurs). The main sentiment I can express to new collectors, is buy what you like. That is the most hackneyed statement I could have written, but it’s true. There are going to be artists that you love, but will never have anything in your price range and that’s shitty, but don’t dwell on that. Don’t let that defeat you because there are going to be numerous artists that you do like, that will have something in your price range. The cool thing about this hobby, that is different from others, is that the artists themselves are accessible. I should qualify that and say ‘most artists’, as no matter what you do, you are probably not going to hear back from Banksy or Warhol, however their reasons for not returning emails, differ significantly.
Over the years I’ve gained a substantial amount of knowledge, however, I still feel that I don’t know a thing. There is so much information out there and the creation of new information never ceases. And that really is the great thing about the hobby. Established artists will keep creating. New artists will emerge.
PS: Some in-situ art shots from years
Art isn't purchased at big-box stores. This blog is for collectors like me, who collect on a budget.