How to start your own art collection – and it’s not as expensive as you might think

If you’re a first-time buyer, Manchester Art Fair has some top tips to get you started

This month sees the return of the city’s major art fair when Manchester Art Fair, sponsored by White Circle interior design, opens its doors at Manchester Central.

After more than a year of having to purchase online, people can now visit the fair in person to talk to artists and galleries about their work and buy art. 

It’s a unique day out and the perfect way to window shop for your next piece of work, and I Love MCR readers can even bag free tickets – see below for how. 

Whilst people slowly acclimatise to office days, why not spruce up the place and give your team an inspirational environment to work in? Or perhaps your home is in need of a redesign to freshen things up a bit since lockdown?

Here are some useful tips for starting your own art collection, courtesy of the Own Art scheme, who will be offering the chance to buy with interest-free monthly instalments from some of the exhibitors at the fair.

Take your time and be inquisitive

We know it can sometimes feel intimidating to enter a gallery or art fair, but galleries love to talk about the artists that they represent and will be able to give you a deeper insight into their artists’ practice. 

If you prefer to buy direct from the artist, then Manchester Art Fair offers a good balance of artists and galleries.

If you have a particular style or specific requirements in mind, let the gallery or artist know what you are looking for and you’ll get the right level of advice and support from them. 

Taj by Mateo, courtesy of Enter Gallery

Once a gallery knows what you like, you’ll always be at the forefront of their mind when something matching your interests becomes available. 

Signing up to mailing lists is also a great way of keeping up to date with their news and exhibitions, and you’re also likely to receive invitations to Private Views, and sometimes even special offers.

Remember: walking into a gallery or approaching a stand at the fair does not mean you have to commit to a purchase there and then. 

Take time looking, make notes on what you like, and don’t rush a purchase.

Start small

The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong type of art to buy. 

If you are a first-time buyer, look for limited-edition prints and keep an eye out for recent graduates or emerging artists. 

This tends to be a good starting point as they typically fall within a lower price range and can, therefore, be more affordable. 

Original art and craft don’t always come with a big price tag, plus if you buy from an emerging artist, you’ll probably be one of their first collectors and you’ve just made someone’s day! 

And if you’re lucky, it could turn into a great investment.

Look for love

It may sound obvious, but you should always buy art that you love and that speaks to you personally. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted into buying art as an investment! 

Unless you have in-depth and specialised knowledge to recognise investment-worthy works of art that will make a profit, then there really is no point going along that route. 

Disco Is The Perfect Love Affair by Oli Fowler, courtesy of Enter Gallery

Buy art simply because you, and only you, can see yourself enjoying it and living with it for a long period of time. 

Which styles, mediums and subjects are important to you? Who are your favourite artists? 

Follow artists, critics and curators on social media and if you’re interested in a particular art form, look up a specific hashtag to see if anything you like pops up. 

It’ll be part of your home and your every day, and hopefully the proud start to an amazing collection!

Go online

Following your favourite galleries and artists on Instagram is a great way of discovering new art, checking out the latest developments in the contemporary art world, and seeking inspiration outside of a regular visit to a gallery. 

Online galleries allow you to easily compare artists, styles and – importantly – prices. 

It’s often less daunting than going into a gallery and having to ask for the price list and you don’t have the pressure to make a decision then and there. 

Today, buying art is much more transparent and accessible for new collectors, with filters allowing you to browse by price, medium, colour etc. 

Plus, the pandemic initiated a huge migration for the art world to take their inventory online and integrate e-commerce into their online platforms, allowing customers to browse and basket their favourite pieces from home. 

You can become an art collector in your pyjamas.  Manchester Art Fair’s new online platform EASEL is a great place to start.

Spread the cost

As with any purchase, it’s always a good idea to set a budget so you know what you can comfortably spend – but remember, there are other ways to pay. 

With Own Art, you can spread the cost of contemporary art and craft from £100 to £25,000 over 10 months, interest-free. 

This means that you can choose more or less any work you like by a living artist for as little as £10 a month. 

You can even include the cost of framing and delivery in your Own Art credit.

FREE tickets to Manchester Art Fair

Over 130 galleries and exhibitors are taking part in Manchester Art Fair with paintings, limited-editions, prints, sculpture and photography from famous names, northern artists and recent graduates available for you to buy. 

I Love MCR readers can get free weekend tickets to the fair using the code ‘ILOVEMCR’.

Own Art works in partnership with a network of over 300 Own Art member galleries, Art Fairs, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, and Arts Council of Northern Ireland to make it easy and affordable for everyone to own high quality, contemporary art and craft. 

Once your loan application has been approved, you can take your artwork home straight away or have it delivered. You only start paying your first monthly instalment four weeks later! 

There’s never been a better time to start an art collection of your very own.

Manchester Art Fair runs from 19th-21st November 2021 at Manchester Central.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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