Become an Art Collector in These Five Easy Steps From Curator Denise Gerson

Art acquisition may seem like the ultimate first world issue. But what house is a home without a little aesthetic appeal? And for those who want to expand their collection beyond garish Britto prints or dorm room-era Salvador Dali posters, Miami's not-for-profit Bakehouse Art Complex is launching a three-pronged lecture series geared towards emerging collectors.

The three panels will cover, in order: how to emerge as a collector; the ins and outs of buying; and how to manage your collection. So if you're ready to ditch your bar-room bachelor pad décor, this will surely help.

We spoke to independent curator Denise Gerson, who'll be moderating the lectures, for tips for wannabe collectors looking to up their culture quotient. Here's what she shared:

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1. Look.

"I think everyone always agrees that the most important thing to do in terms of getting started is to look. The collector has to spend a lot of time, put in the leg work, going to various venues where there are art shows and galleries. The thing about Bakehouse, why it's a good fit, is because it's kind of one stop shopping, and the studios are for emerging and mid career artists."

2. Ask questions.

"You also have to ask a lot of questions. So for a collector who really wants to focus, a good thing to do might be to identify a particular gallery where they can work with that gallerist. Say, a gallery where they mostly show photography so you can get your feet wet collecting photos or works on paper."

3. Know why you're getting in the game.

"Two things you ask collectors: do you want to do it for the love of the art? Is it about your gut? Or are you looking to invest in art? I think my experience is that collectors who don't have a lot of money just want to wade into it because it's a fun thing to do. People really today want to live with art, it's almost no longer a luxury. If you're going to have a home and you're going to fill it with furniture, you're also going to fill it with art."

4. You can start with almost any budget.

"If you are willing to buy drawings and other kinds of works on paper, you can definitely start to collect for under $1,000. Photography, also -- there are very nice photographic prints out there for $400 or $500. And at a place like Bakehouse where emerging artists have studios, it's very possible. The UM Beaux Arts Festival, the Las Olas Art Fair in Fort Lauderdale or the Coconut Grove Arts Festival -- those are absolutely legitimate ways to start collecting."

5. Avoid rookie mistakes.

"One mistake is buying something because somebody told you you should. It isn't any different from the stock market; tips are not necessarily a good idea. Another is to think that you're going to be able to flip it. And I think the biggest mistake one makes is buying a piece before one has had an opportunity to hone one's taste. Then you're left with something you paid a few thousand dollars for and you hate it a year later, and divesting yourself of that art is very difficult."

The lecture series starts Thursday, continuing February 7 and February 21. They'll cover how to emerge as a collector, the ins and outs of buying, and collection management, respectively. All start at 6 p.m. at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Gerson, former associate director for the Lowe Museum of Art and independent curator, will moderate all three lectures. Admission costs $25 per session or $60 for all three. Reservations are recommended. Visit

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