abstract figurative painting

Tunji Adeniyi Jones. Courtesy White Cube Gallery

From prints and paintings to photography and NFTs, the diversity and scale of art world can be daunting to first-time collectors, but it doesn’t have to be. Here, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf shares her top tips for navigating the art world and building a collection

Sophie Neuendorf

With fine art developing into a beautiful alternative asset, the opportunity to purchase tokens and the growth of NFTs, now is a great time to invest, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. How do you choose the works and artists? Where is the best place to buy: galleries, brick-and-mortar auctions or online auctions? How do you know what’s a fair price?

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Entering the art world can sometimes feel like more trouble than it’s worth, but it collecting can bring a lot a pleasure, and it’s worth remembering that you probably already know more than you think.

How do I know what I like?

Whether consciously or not, the preferences one has in terms of art and culture begin developing in childhood. Can you remember the first time you experienced art? Was it in a museum, a church, gallery or in someone’s home? Those earlier encounters leave a lasting impression which will have an impact on the artists and artworks you gravitate towards, and generally speaking, it’s always advisable to follow your instincts.

From a young age, I’ve had the huge pleasure and privilege of enjoying my father’s collection at home and in terms of my own collecting habits today, I find myself wanting to support emerging artists, as my father has always done. When I like a work, I tend to discuss it with my brothers, whose opinions I trust, before purchasing.

sculpture of the word love

Robert Indiana. Courtesy of artnet auctions

How important is research?

While you might be buying for passion, it’s important to also have an investment view. I would strongly advise anyone interested in a particular artwork or artist to spend some time researching their exhibition history, and similar artists before committing to a purchase.

Read more: Louise Cottar of Cottar’s Safaris on meaningful luxury experiences

Where do I go to buy?

Personally, I like to purchase artworks through galleries or in online auctions. I enjoy building a relationship not only with the artist I collect, but also with the galleries that represent them. Galleries are paramount to the art world ecosystem, and supporting them is very important. The app SeeSaw lists current and forthcoming exhibitions, where you can go to discover new and notable artists. For example, I’ve recently discovered the works of Tunji Adeniyi Jones, Eddie Martinez, and Donna Huanca.

large abstract painting

Donna Huanca. Courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery

Online auctions offer a great alternative, especially at a time when we might not be able to travel so easily to galleries. You can browse and purchase artworks from the comfort of your own home and the seamless end-to-end transaction process takes away any potential stress. I’ve already preselected a few works that I’ll be bidding on at artnet auctions this Autumn, such as a marvellous piece by Robert Indiana as well as several contemporary artworks.

The most important piece of advice I’ve ever received is: “Buy it because you love it. It doesn’t matter what others think.” With any luck, the monetary value will appreciate as well as the emotional value.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf