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How to start your own art collection

Oct 9, 2014

by Katherine Mellor handmade and vintage goods

To celebrate Etsy’s first ever UK art exhibition, OPEN, curator Katherine Mellor shares her expert advice on how to start your own art collection.

Katherine Mellor is a freelance curator and arts consultant. She is passionate about working with her clients to purchase, display and look after art which they love. She has run arts programmes for organisations including the Government Art Collection, Unilever and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

How to start your own art collection

It was a real joy to be involved in selecting the artists for Etsy’s first art exhibition. We had to make some really tough decisions because of the breadth and standard of work submitted to us for consideration, but I think we’ve curated a fantastic collection which showcases the wide-ranging talents of Etsy sellers. The availability of high-quality art on websites such as Etsy is such an exciting development, giving everyone the opportunity to start their own art collection.

The one thing you will always read in articles about how to start your own art collection is that you must buy work that you love, not work that you think is going to be smart financial investment. It is true that this is the most important thing of all, but allow me to offer a few other tips to guide you:

Do your research. By research, I don’t mean pouring over academic art history books. Spend time looking at art; on Etsy, in galleries and books and in restaurants, bars and your friends’ houses. Think about whether there is a connecting theme in the art you like – is it abstract? Does it tell a story? Are you drawn to particular colours or shapes?

Be confident. Art is subjective and your opinion is as valid as that of any ‘expert’. After all, you are the person who has to live with what you buy. Having said that, do make sure those who you share your house with don’t absolutely hate it…

collection of artwork above a desk


What do you already own? Think about how to artwork you buy will fit with what you already own. And where you will put it. Art is made to be displayed, not stuck at the back of a wardrobe because it doesn’t go with the wallpaper.

Do you have a theme? This could be media, colour, or subject. A collection of small illustrations or portraits can look just as impressive as one large painting.

Find prints. If you fall in love with the work of an established or well-known (i.e. expensive) artist, consider looking at any limited edition prints they may have produced. Prints are a great way to own art by “big time” artists without bankrupting yourself.

Remember though that you should ignore all of my advice if you fall completely smack-bang in love with a piece of art. As long you can afford it and you can fit it through your front door, you should buy it. And enjoy it for many years.

To read Katherine’s regular edits of the arts to see in London, check out

If you are an artist not currently selling on Etsy, why not open a shop? Get started with 20 free listings! Enter the code: ARTETSYUK at  (new sellers only).

Want to learn more about how to buy art? Then come along to our art exhibition OPEN: An exhibition of artists on, where Katherine will be sharing her expert curatorial advice on starting your own art collection. Friday 17 October, 4pm-5pm. Free entry. Click here to get your ticket.


  • Butterflyart1

    Amy Fahmy from Butterflyart1 said 5 years ago

    This is great and very sound advice

  • sueforey

    Sue Forey from SueForeyfibreart said 5 years ago

    All good advise but I would also add that original aceo's are very inexpensive and a group of framed ones can create impact.

  • CinnabarAndSienna

    Richard H Allsop from CinnabarAndSienna said 5 years ago


  • narais

    Sara Olivé from Narais said 5 years ago

    Thankyou , great! ♥♥♥♥♥

  • canvasoftimes

    Canvas of Times from canvasoftimes said 5 years ago

    Nice reading the article... Some time later would like to collect ART !!

  • GaryRam

    Gary and Heather from littleRamstudio said 5 years ago

    And don't forget that linocut printmakers' work are all original pieces of art. Every single piece is hand printed and so each piece is truly unique. The weight of the press, the spread of the ink, all these add nuances to each and every print. It's a great way to start collecting affordable piece of art!

  • noahsnauticalprints

    Minnie Swanborough from NoahsNauticalPrints said 5 years ago

    I wanted to produce some affordable art for customers who liked our prints. So I painted some Natural History Watercolors, and kept them in a really affordable price range. You can make a great collectable art wall with just a half a dozen well placed framed items. Not really keen on blowing my own trumpet - but here is the link Hope you like them Minnie.

  • saffronella

    Saffron Reichenbacker from SaffronReichenbacker said 5 years ago

    Super article.

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