How to Choose an Artist to Collect

Wondering which artist’s work to buy? Art can make an impressive investment as its value doesn’t fluctuate with the stock market in the same way that other asset types do. But it can be difficult to know which artists’ work to buy, and at what stage of an artist’s career you should be looking to invest. If you want to build a collection that will hold and increase its value as well as bring you joy there are a few things to check before buying.

Recent Sales Record

It is useful to know whether the artist has a secondary market, meaning whether their artworks have been sold on from its first buyers. A secondary market can serve as a proxy for popularity and demand. Art is scarce by definition, so the presence of a secondary market - either through galleries or auction houses - signals that there is more demand than what could be served.  By checking sales records from auctions and availability through galleries reselling artworks, you can get a sense of demand and also benchmark the price for this stage in the artist’s career. Furthermore, by exploring sales records, you can understand the overall price trajectory of the artist. Particularly fast rising prices, especially for deceased artists, could be a signal of an overheating market that may subsequently correct downward.

Academic and Exhibitions Background

Having gone to a reputable university and having an extensive list of past exhibitions is not necessary for an artist to have a thriving career and to produce exceptional artworks. However, these factors can help predict the popularity, seriousness, and longevity of an artist’s career. An artist’s exhibition experience is also a good indicator of their popularity and their respect within the gallery industry. 

Career Stage

Does it look like this artist has burst onto the scene from nowhere, and you can’t find any evidence of their work from more than a year ago? Do they appear to have been making art for decades but are still unheard of and don’t seem to have sold anywhere? Finding an artist who has solid professional experiences, has shown to be committed to their practice for a suitable length of time, and has achieved some successes so far will stand you in good stead when choosing contemporary artwork to collect. Without them having spent a suitable length of time on the art-selling market, it is possible that you might invest in an artist who decides to give up their practice entirely, leaving you with artwork that is unlikely to retain its value. 

Presence in institutional collections

Has the artist’s works been acquired by a notable art institution or museum? These organisations have a number of reasons why they add artists to their collections. The reasons may be different from what drives your interest in the artwork, but can give an indication of the importance and potential legacy of the artist. Artists that make meaningful contributions to art history and who think in new, innovative ways tend to be acquired by museums and see this interest reflected in the market for their work. Presence in museum collections amplifies the exposure that the artist has and can increase demand and interest in their work.

Online Presence

Where have you found this artist? Artists who have successful careers ahead of them are likely to have solid online presence and suitable verification. It will be clear via online searches if a contemporary artist has dedicated the proper time to building their portfolio and reputation, and browsing online will ensure you don’t end up buying the work of an artist that isn’t as serious about being an artist as you are about being a collector.


Explore our marketplace to find unique, curated artworks to invest in today. Our team is on hand to advise and guide you through the art buying process to ensure that you build a valuable collection that you love.



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