Forever Young: Art Collecting as a 20-Something

posted by – 02/19/11 @ 5:54pm

brettdepalma7For young adults, the concept of buying art seems ensconced in another world, a world inhabited by those schooled in esoteric jargon, like oeuvre or Agitprop. Although the 20-something set wields a fair amount of disposable income, and increased levels of autonomy in the lecture hall, law firm, and dive bar, we still relegate ourselves to the proverbial “kid’s table.” There seems to be this mindset that we should let the adults be the proprietors, and the ones who fill the walls with art.

Let’s turn this mindset on its head. As a young woman living and working in Nashville, I would love to see more young people engaged in art collecting. With each month’s First Saturday Art Crawl at Tinney Contemporary, a dizzying amount of young folks traipse through our doors, soaking in the artwork, and engaging in intelligent dialogue. What, then is contributing to this chasm between viewing a work of art and collecting it for personal consumption?

Rather than put forth a long-winded treatise on art collecting, I’ll try to keep it simple. To start, here are a series of words that come to mind when I think of art collecting: intrepid, organic, confident, impulsive. At its root, art collecting is not merely a delicate bureaucratic dance, or a formulaic process. Sometimes, it’s best to view it from a different angle: as an exercise in spontaneity. As a jumping-off point, here are ABCs of art collecting for young adults:

Ask questions. It’s worthwhile to begin by asking yourself: What split-second moments of highly-charged emotion have I recently had? What inspired them? What location would I like to see this work of art? Armed with these answers, you can then get to know the artist, the gallery and its owners—even the crowd that frequents the locale. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions about the collecting process, and the artist as an individual.

Browse. As simple as it sounds, sometimes art collecting is merely about the hunt. If you establish your parameters—whether financial or aesthetic—the next step would be to simply look, look, look. Attend as many art crawls or events as you can at local galleries, to get a feel for the venues that closely match your preferences.

Commit. Just buy the piece. If Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, and other psychological literature has taught us anything, it’s that impulse buying often bears more satisfactory results than a carefully choreographed purchase. At the end of the day, you are collecting, not beleaguering yourself.

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