After a little time, you finally settled into the new, higher-paying gig. The loft you purchased as a starter home feels cozy enough, but would feel even cozier with art pieces that reflect your growing sophistication.

Beyond the framed Benny Andrews and Jacob Lawrence posters that were sufficient transition pieces during grad school and those entry-level career days, there are Kehinde Wileys and Kara Walkers to consider. There are Catletts and Honeywoods. You may even want to begin checking prices of Warhols and Picassos.

In short:  It’s time to get serious about collecting art.

The world of art collecting is excitingly lucrative. “In the past 10 years, art has significantly outperformed stocks, with the strongest performance in the postwar and contemporary categories,” says Michael Moses, co-creator of the Mei Moses Art Indexes. Sotheby’s year to date 2012 sales reports state that in January 2012 its New York location’s Old Masters Paintings sales totaled $62.1 million for the famed institution. A major highlight of the sale was Canaletto’s View of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo from the Estate of Lady Forte, selling for $5.7 million. Meanwhile Lucas Cranach the Elder’s portrait Lucretia garnered $5.1 million.

Whether you plan to start big or small, know what you like and how to research prospects. Once you know the fundamentals, you’ll have a new hobby for building your cultural legacy and a new source of income.

Begin by browsing museums and galleries in your city or while traveling. You can also take tours of online museum and gallery exhibits or browse the art section holdings in bookstores and libraries. Take a notebook along to write about art piece subjects, mediums, or artists who move you.  You may like the black-and-white Harlem heyday photographs of James Van der Zee. You may like the varied featured materials of works by Radcliffe Bailey. Remember, the key is to be passionate about what you see. Every time you view the piece, you should feel as if you are engaged in an experience.

Ask your docent for background on your favorites as well as literature on the artist. She’s a trained, knowledgeable professional who can also suggest similar artist executions or influences. She can also direct you to helpful e-mailing lists and inform you about special events, including workshops and lectures.

Once you know what you like, visit the websites of local colleges and universities for classes on the history behind the artist, style of art, and historical context which the art reflects. If you like sculptures created by Augusta Savage and are considering investing in one of her works, learning about her life will educate you on her creative process and make you an informed prospective buyer with keen negotiation skills.

Join an art collector’s association or begin your own informal one. Just call the girls over for lemonade and cupcakes and an afternoon discussion about the new Faith Ringgold’s collection on tour, and you’re well on your way.

Attend national and international art fairs and expos. The Harlem Fine Arts show takes place in New York every February, while the National Black Arts Festival boasts one of the largest marketplaces featuring Diasporic art in Atlanta each July.

Schedule an appointment for a private viewing at an admired artist’s studio and begin talking prices for sale once you’ve done your homework. You can also attend small auctions and purchase pieces by emerging artists to get started.

Remember to remain passionately respectful about your purchase. While art collecting is a business, most brokers and buyers are art aficionados and appreciate doing business with like-minded individuals.

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  • jamesfrmphilly

    i will be showing in NYC july 5 – august 4

    SOHO PHOTO 15 white street
    3 blocks south of canal between 6th and west broadway

    reception july 5 – 6/8

    yall come…….

  • You can also travel overseas where art is EXTREMELY affordable and breathtaking. ex. Haitian oil paintings and tin carvings;-)

  • Great great article! I have been wondering about how to get started collecting art. Thanks for the pointers

  • This is great advice! I’ve been having these same concerns myself for my business and my personal life so thanks!

  • Tishana

    I’m loving this advice! Guess I need to step up my art game!:)