Things to do

Tips to get your affordable art collection started

No matter your income, collecting art is possible. The first step is conducting your research.


There are many resources out there that can help individuals navigate the art-buying process including reading art books, checking out art and artists participating in the South End Art Crawl, seeing what the McColl Center artists in residence are creating, and of course visiting our more than 30 local galleries and museums like Anne Nielson Fine Art, The Light Factory, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center, The Mint Museum and more.

When conducting research, look for pieces that you absolutely love and are drawn to. When at all possible, talk with the artist to find out what inspired their work to get a better understanding of their process and final outcome. At this point, you should be figuring out your budget, type of art you like (abstracts, photography, sculptures, etc.) and planning “where to find art” dates.


Now you are ready to purchase your first piece of artwork.

How do you find affordable artwork?

According to Brian D. Gallagher, Curator of Decorative Arts for The Mint Museum, “Art comes in an almost endless array of styles and sizes and medium…and cost.”

He suggested, “If you like two-dimensional art but don’t think you can afford a large oil painting on canvas, don’t forget that there are prints, photographs and watercolors. Each of these media have their own range of price points, and so if you keep looking you might be able to find something that you really love, even if it isn’t the type of work you had originally thought of looking for.”

For pottery, Gallagher suggests the Potters Market Invitational which includes 40 NC ceramic artists selling their wares that span from traditional functional wares to contemporary sculptural works.

Judith Weston Voglesonger, owner of ArtHouse Charlotte, is an art consultant and broker whose mission is connecting incredible works by emerging and established artists with lonely walls. She feels that you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on original artwork. She currently works with 22 artists and their work ranges from $55-$5,200, with most pieces being sold at $2,000 or less. She said once you identify the space (in your home) you’d like to fill first and the cost based on the artist you have connected it’s time to save for the piece you want.

“Don’t settle,” she said. “Nothing else will do. It’s also much palatable to start small. For less than $100, you can find some beautiful original pieces and once you see the way the energy in your home changes and the space is transformed by the original art, you will catch the art bug and you won’t be able to stop.”

Other places to scope out for deals include Pure & Simple Organizing estate sales and Belk Auction Company auction sales, Etsy and even social media networks like Instagram and Twitter with popular hashtags like #cltartists, #cltartscene and #ncart for local art.


Catching the “art bug”

Some say that art collecting is a true art form in itself. Similar to music that makes you dance, poetry that makes you cry, art can evoke emotion and be a welcome addition to your home. It can become a conversation piece for guests, a special feeling every time you pass it in the hall and it can conjure up certain memories. The art scene can be found many places—and after perusing Charlotte’s beautiful museums, galleries and pop-up art spaces it’s time to catch the art bug.

Be patient in developing your eye for art

Gallagher said, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Every collector does, and every museum has works of art in it that it probably wishes it didn’t. We all learn from our mistakes—it’s a crucial part of developing that connoisseurial eye.”

Vogelsonger suggested giving yourself some time to collect unique and interesting pieces and, before you know it, you will have amassed a meaningful collection.


Photo: CharlotteFive