Sarah Massie is the director of the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto. She has impeccable taste in art and sat down with us to chat about the subject. Sarah takes all the pretences about collecting away with her straightforward approach. Read on for her expert tips.
FP: In your opinion, what are the benefits to collecting art?
SM: Collecting art can be a very personally rewarding experience, just like any other hobby and getting to know dealers and galleries can be a very social and engaging pastime. Unlike other furnishings, art does not get "tired" or old fashioned. If purchased for the right reasons - you have done your research on the gallery and artist - you will always feel the connection you felt when you purchased the work and this feeling will in fact become richer over time as you and your collection changes. Hopefully the time and research you have invested in collecting should also result in your art increasing in value.
Charles Bierk in Studio with one of his giant portraits. Image: OTMI Magazine.
FP: What’s the best way to start an art collection? Do you recommend building around one large piece or dipping your toe in with a smaller piece?
SM: Starting a collection should begin with researching artists and galleries. The scale of the work should be irrelevant in terms of where to start. As for the financial commitment, it is helpful to have a budget and communicate this to the dealer and they will give you options.
Some of the things to look for when researching an artist are past exhibitions, catalogues, public and corporate collections as well as where this particular work fits within their practice. Is it their preferred medium? What is the series and what is it about?
FP: To the average person, the art market seems saturated. Given that there is so much to choose from, how to you tailor your search and not get overwhelmed?
SM: Start with researching reputable galleries, talk to friends that collect and ask for their recommendations as well as look at local art magazines, blogs, and reviews. Once you have found a few galleries that represent artists of interest, make appointments and ask them to show you a few works by artists you have selected from their website. Narrow you favorite artists and decide and the works you like best. It may take awhile to wait for a work you like in the right scale and price point but be patient. Good galleries will keep in touch and call you when works they think you will like come in.
"You will always feel the connection you felt when you purchased the work and this will in fact become richer over time as you and your collection changes."
FP: How can you tell whether a piece will increase in value or even hold its value?
This is very tricky and you should be wary of galleries that use a works potential to increase in value as a sales tactic. That said, if you are paying $10,000 plus for a work you should be looking for impressive exhibition history, catalogues and collections which will all help with the work increasing in value over time.