How to Build An Art Collection 

May 11, 2021

How to Build An Art Collection

When it comes to the world of art, I of course can see a piece and know whether I like it or not but when it comes to identifying and collecting art for my own personal collection – I wasn’t sure where to start.

When I moved to my new apartment, I enlisted the help of Proper Shoppe who specialize in art curation and styling. They educated me on the importance of art in making a home feel special, personal, tied together and finished.

Together we worked together to help me build an art collection that I will treasure always and today I’m sharing everything I’ve learned from their expertise as well as unveiling more about my commissioned Alex Soffer painting.

But first a bit more about Proper Shoppe:

Tell me about Proper Shoppe. 

Proper Shoppe is your art & design concierge. The majority of our clients either need help navigating where to begin with art, or they want help pulling a space together. Everyone needs that honest friend they can bounce ideas off of, and we are that art and design friend.

We love working with artists and connecting with our clients to facilitate creating homes we love, but we also personally love art and design as collectors ourselves. We are proponents of investing in pieces you will have forever. Whether it’s a $10 souvenir paperweight or a $5,000 piece of art, it’s our goal to help you curate a space to grow with your style and personality.

Styling recommendations from Proper Shoppe

How was Proper Shoppe conceived?

We met through our husbands who work together, and quickly realized we had similar interests and career aspirations. We had both completed undergraduate degrees but later found ourselves back in school pursuing degrees in interior design in Chicago.  Years down the road… and a few kids (and a move to Chattanooga for Ann) later, we launched Proper Shoppe.

We had always talked about the artist community, and also how there is a need for art consultancy that is more approachable. We aim to be a sounding board for our clients and help promote a lifetime of collecting authentic art. We thrive on creating lasting relationships with artists and are inspired by the hunt for the perfect piece of art or accessory. 

Our end goal with any client is to make the entire process of art curation and styling enjoyable and less intimidating. Many of our clients feel overwhelmed by the options, can’t describe their style, or don’t know where to look.  We are happy to step in, and in the process, we hope that we can open our client’s eyes to the joy of art and styling. 

wit & whimsy Apartment Tour

What value does art bring to a space? 

It gives it character, and brings personality to a home. As collectors, we want our clients to have a sense of pride because art is an investment.  Art has longevity and can bring great joy. Like a scent that evokes a happy memory, art can do the same.

It can be as simple as turning a photo to black and white and framing it to work in the space or as elaborate as working closely with an artist to create a large piece of art for a focal point in a room. If you have always wanted to start some sort of collection- start with art!

How to Build an Art Collection

I think often the world of art feels intimidating and untouchable. It can feel elitist at times. But really art should be seen as an approachable subject and pleasurable pastime for enjoyment by anyone. Art can move you, make you feel connected, it can be passed down generation to generation, can elicit certain memories or serve as a souvenir or conversation piece. 

When you begin to explore art for your own home – consider how and why you’re collecting. Is the artwork an investment? A way to support an emerging artist? Because you’re passionate about learning more about art? Or does it just serve a decorative purpose. We’ll dive more into this below.

We’re not all art collectors by definition nor is the average person bidding on art at auction houses. Today’s post is intended to make building an art collection feel less intimidating and I hope it’ll inspire you to either start building a collection or to expand one you’ve already been developing over the years!

Start small.

Start small when building your collection because you will always be able to find a spot for a small piece. You don’t have to build your collection over night!

Consider your current surroundings.

Proper Shoppe notes that art and decor styling go hand in hand so take a look at what you’re already working with in your space. Art and decor are both ways to express yourself and they should both work to be representative of your style and personality. You don’t want pieces that will conflict with one another so start small and go slowly vs. trying to make everything work all at once. 

Invest in sentimental pieces.

If there is a particular piece that you can’t get out of your head, Proper Shoppe recommends following your gut and you will never be disappointed. Sentimental pieces that have been passed down through families are always going to hold special value. And for pieces you purchase yourself – you will always remember where you were or what season of life you were in when you add to your collection.

Shop local.

Buying art from local artists who live in your neighborhood/town/city is not only a great way to support local small businesses, but this work also becomes representative of a time in your life when you lived somewhere you’ll always remember.

Determine your style.

Proper Shoppe recommends saving images on Instagram and creating a Pinterest board of inspirational photos. Think interiors, fashion, art, photography and then identify what commonalities you’re seeing in the image to learn what you’re drawn to and from there you can start to identify types of art you may want to begin collecting. You could also consider visiting some museums or galleries and taking photos of pieces you’re drawn to.

Consult experts.

Experts like Proper Shoppe are deeply entrenched in the world of art and therefore have a depth and breadth of knowledge when it comes to what type of art is out there and what type of artists’ work may suite your life and your style. They’ll be able to source recommendations for you for everything from original works to fine art as well as assist in one of a kind commissions. Given the world of art is rather saturated, Proper Shoppe can help assess whether a piece is the right price, overly trendy or the proper investment for your space.

Consider a commission.

Art is objective and personal to everyone. Commissioning art is a completely unique experience. It is a great way to become more invested in the piece- whether it’s through the conversation in creating it, including underlying meaning, or trying to coordinate your space. It can create a connection between artist and consumer and will result in a piece you feel invested in and will cherish always. 

If you’d like to consider a commission but don’t know where to start – Proper Shoppe can help initiate and guide the conversation with an artist on commissioning a piece. They can help match you with an artist that can create something you’ll love.

Set a budget.

Overall budgets can really vary depending on the size or materials. Determine what you feel comfortable spending and then start your search fro there. If you are serious about collecting, a small piece between $200-$500 is a good place to start.

My Personal Experience with an Art Commission with Artist Alex Soffer

As a part of my work with Proper Shoppe, I was introduced to artist Alex Soffer who lives nearby me in Brooklyn, New York. Alex worked with me and Proper Shoppe to design a piece of original art for my home and I am so excited to share more about that process with you today!

Proper Shoppe

My Studio Rendering by Proper Shoppe

Alex Soffer Art

But first, a bit more about Alex and her work as an artist:

Tell me about Alex Soffer Art. How did you get started?
Art has always been a part of my life, but I really picked up the paintbrush again after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was only 63-years-old at the time of his diagnosis. Throughout the course of his illness, I experienced every imaginable emotion, but I was mostly angry, and I didn’t have an outlet, so I bought a few canvases, brushed off my easel and painted. It started as an additional form of therapy for me; a place where I could channel all my feelings and disappear.

As my father’s illness progressed, I started IVF to conceive our second child. IVF is tough enough on its own; coupled with my dad’s illness, it was near impossible (red wine wasn’t an option at the time.) Again, I turned to painting to help get through. The canvas became the ultimate therapist, and I found both my enthusiasm and ability growing.

What’s your style of art?
I consider my style to be abstract. I like incorporating sand into my work; I love the texture it adds and how it creates and defines its own movement.

What does art mean to you?
I want my work to invoke real and raw emotion; I hope people see something in my work that pulls at them. My work is a story, and the beauty of art is that each piece tells a unique story to every set of eyes. It’s an incredible way to communicate.

How does the commission process work for you?
Commissioning artwork is such fun for me because the process is very collaborative. I work closely with the client to create a piece that is unique and special and helps tell their story. I do frequent photo ‘check-ins’ and ask for feedback throughout, because I will only send a piece that the client loves and cherishes.

How would you describe the piece you painted for me?
I had envisioned drinking a Bordeaux in a Parisian cafe losing myself in the hand-plastered, century-old walls and that is what inspired me to create these pieces. There is so much character in old walls; they’ve absorbed so many stories over the years, so I poured my own stories, my own tears and laughter in to these two works. 

How to build an art collection

I absolutely love the piece Alex commissioned for me. It serves as a focal point for my entire apartment and brings the space to life in a way that brings me such joy. When it was hung on the wall I couldn’t believe how much it tied every single piece near it together. I felt like it was the perfect finishing touch in the space. 

Before this apartment I had never owned original art before. And what Alex created for me is so special because it will always represent this period in my life and it will always be able to find a place in future homes of mine. I love that Proper Shoppe recommended doing a diptych because the two canvases can be styled a myriad of ways in the future when they hang on a different wall. 

Alex’s piece harkens me back to so many happy memories in France exploring old chateaus and wine caves and storied small villages. I love how her use of texture in the piece feels like it is holding parts of history and I love that I had the opportunity to get to know Alex – a neighbor and now a friend – through the process. Highly recommend following her on Instagram as well – I love her account and she’s always sharing so many beautiful pieces!

. . .

If you’re interested in working with Proper Shoppe, drop them a line at propershoppe[@] to set up a complimentary phone consultation. Their consulting packages range from $500-$2,500 but hourly design consultations also available at $100/hour for clients who are interested in interior design feedback, or could use a second opinion. Examples include: furniture layouts, art positioning, styling recommendations. You can also follow Proper Shoppe on Instagram.

Shop my couch from Interior Define.


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A big thank you to Proper Shoppe and artist Alex Soffer for their collaboration on today’s post and on my space. It was a true pleasure working with them.

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  1. Margie Webb says:

    Thank you so much for this information! I know nothing about art but am remodeling my house and want to start investing in pieces. This helped me a great deal!

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