How To Start An Art Collection

Starting an Art Collection: Tips from Maria Gabriela Brito


With all the many things we have going on in our busy lives, collecting art may be an after-thought. Though it may seem like a playground for the elite,  art and images play a significant role in our every day lives. Maybe it’s time to begin re-thinking about what’s hanging on our walls versus in our closets. Clothing and furniture come and go, art is something we keep for a lifetime–insuring that we think and giving us unending pleasure.

We recently spoke with Maria Gabriela Brito, an interior designer, curator, author of “Out There: Design, Art, Travel, Shopping”, and guest-editor of  Gwyneth Paltrow’s famous weekly lifestyle newsletter “GOOP”. Brito is a fixture at Art Basel in Miami, operating as  P.Diddy’s personal art advisor. She’s also the CEO and creative force behind of Lifestyling® By Maria Gabriela Brito–a company that offers a unique approach to interior design by incorporating art into every interiors and taking decorating to a new level.

Today the Venezualan beauty, contemporary art aficionado, and Harvard grad offers her invaluable tips on starting an art collection—an act she says anyone and everyone can participate in.

 1. Why buy art? First off, it’s a very good investment. I tell my clients it’s the only thing that’ll remain past where you live, what kind of dwelling you inhabit, and can be handed down to family. We live in a world of “fast fashion”, young women will spend endlessly on the trendiest piece of fashion. Art can be your legacy—an asset that will never fall out of vogue. Your tastes may change, but if the art is good quality, chances are it won’t lose its value.Maria Brito

2. How do you know what to buy? Obviously, a good place to start is with what you enjoy.  Begin to figure that out with a visit to a local gallery or museum and ask them to walk you through. This will slowly start to train your eye. Do you resonate with the piece or with what the artist is communicating? Do you like pop art, abstract, photography, mixed media, street art, collage, or messages meaning art with words? Once you know what you like, you can begin to focus your search.

3. What if you don’t have a lot of money to spend? Where do you buy? My favorite online site is a good place to start. Art offers a variety of selections from artists at prices starting at $200 and going to $300,000. Everything on this site is good. Of course you risk not being able to see the work in person, but you can see a huge variety of work from very well-respected artists,  and that’s the trade off.

4. Once I’m ready to buy and  I’ve found the piece I want, what’s the one thing I need to know? Go big or don’t bother. People are afraid of proportion. Stats from auction houses prove “the bigger, the better.” Pieces that run maybe six feet high by four feet wide make a striking impact.

5. How do I know where in my home to put my newly purchased art work? Hang art at eye level. If it’s a large piece, the center of the piece should be eye level. Smaller pieces are best either assembled together to create a kind of instillation or hung in a small more intimate space. A small piece on a huge wall looks like it’s floating aimlessly in an ocean. Also, be careful about exposing work to too much sunlight. Take note, there are no windows in museums.

6. Who are some of the artists you’re watching today?  

Angel Otelo; He’s a young expressionist abstract painter from Puerto Rico. Andrea Mary Marshal; She’s a young New Yorker who does a lot of edgy and sexual self-portraits who’s really pushing herself. Flavia da Rin; an Argentine who works in manipulated photography.

Whatever art you invest in make sure you do your research, but buy from the heart. Your first few pieces may not be your most important, but they’ll be the foundation of your collection and will set the tone of your initial start into a lifelong devotion to yourself and the arts.