The history of collecting art goes back to the time of the Wunderkammern (German loanword for cabinets of curiosity) of the princes and lords of the 14th century, to the Middle Ages. The aristocracy collected crafts and artworks to underline their meaning and for their representation. Our present freedom of collecting art has developed over a long period of time.
In the following article I want to show the variety of art collectors and their different ways of purchasing and collecting. To collect art possibly is the only thing the following types of persons have in common. The persistent will to own more and more works of art and to expand the collection is one of the key characteristics of all them. There are several ways to focus on at creating an art collection. The following types are the most common and they are easy to distinguish. Even if this doesn’t mean there are only six types of art collectors or that they wouldn’t blur into each other.
The Lover/ Enthusiast
This type is very passionate about art. Mostly they have knowledge from an early age, because they have grown up surrounded by art works or developed the interest for history and art on their own. The Lover collects works by a special artist to support him and the close connection is important for him.
Or he has a very individual style of collecting. Whereby the relation between his purchased works is not primarily necessary. All the purchases are about his passion for art. The love on the first sight is very important for this kind of art collector as well.
The Overthinker is best informed about the artist, the meaning of the work inside the oeuvre, about the period of the work and also – and this quite particularly – the prices. He is not that into smalltalk during openings and events or so. He needs the conversation on a high scientific level. He doesn’t make decisions out of instinct.
They are the intellectuals on the market with a deep knowledge of the historical background and everything concerning the purchase of an art work. They are strong negotiating partners. There is no interest in being part of a dazzling art world and he doesn’t need to be known for his collection.
The Overthinker doesn’t necessarily buy art as investments, for him it is more about the quality of a work and its meaning inside the oeuvre of the artist.
Buying art for this kind of an art collector is a matter of a prestige luxury life. It is not only about the quality of an artwork, it is also exceptionally meaningful that the artist is famous in general on the one hand and wellknown for his high prices on the market on the other. He only purchases the big names to expand his Park Avenue Collection (a somewhat negative description, but also a well known term).
Having the work in his possession is not enough, it is also a big thing for this type of a collector to be invited to special dinners and parties. To own the right painting is important for him, because of his status.
The Investor tends to pass over the emotion and mentality of an artwork. The goal is to spend the money the right way and to make the expected return. He sees art as an asset and for him information are the main currency. It is only recently that art is no longer just an expression of wealth, but has the potential to be a store of it.
The Investor has to be careful. Having the know-how on the one hand and money on the other is trump. The most important point is the risk, because there is no guarantee of a return. Furthermore art doesn’t throw off any interest and dividends. To buy an art work can be like a jackpot in case the demand expands after the purchase. All in all it is the risk in investing in art, what comes with being an art investor.
The Flipper is a species which is not really welcomed on the global art market. These collectors are accused of just flipping with art works. They buy a work and the duration of having it in their property is quite short. They are always on the run to sell a work only to purchase the next one for their collection. It is all about upgrading and expanding the collection and this is why they are not the most popular persons on the market. But most of them put the profit into new acquisitions, what keeps the market running – this is not a bad point.
Beside these above mentioned categories of art collectors it is important as well to focus on the younger generation and to accept that they will rule the art world one day. The younger collectors generally have less access to capital than older collectors. But what the millennial collector helps to take the lead is the experienced use of computers and smartphones. To buy art online is not that upsetting for them as it is for the older generation. (Read my article about buying art online here)
During the process of buying art and to build up a collection most of the collectors will start with a purchase of a work out of passion. At the very beginning of collecting, it is important to have a little spark of passion for art and/or the art market, even though the focus will be set on another strategy one day.
As you can see there are some different ways of collecting art. What is your favorite way to buy artworks? Are you as sensual and passionate as the Lover or would you never buy a work of art without any potential of an increase of value?
As a young collector it is no fault to buy the artwork on base of the own taste. All in all being part of the art world should be connected with joy and fulfillment.