It seems the buzz word in style at the moment is art. However, buying your first piece can be daunting and at times even terrifying when you are faced with the myriad of different styles, media and price points of works on offer.

This week we asked fine art consultant Brenda Colahan for her top tips on taking the anguish out of selecting stylish and authentic art.

– First and foremost, discover what you like through extensive looking. Contemporary art is sometimes difficult to view and comprehend. It can push our buttons and provoke us to reflect on the world around us. By viewing as many leading galleries, public exhibitions and new artists’ works before you buy, you begin to take a personal journey of discovery. Put your name on gallery lists and go to their openings.

– It’s one thing to relate to and love something. It’s another to afford it. Establish a budget. If you feel you like a particular style or genre but can’t get to that price point, look at other artists’ works who may be less established. Buy the best example of an artist’s work that you can afford. If you can’t get there, buy the best piece by an artist who is less expensive.

– Emerging artists offer great value. They are directional, passionate and often their work sells for less than $2,000.

– Some works may repel, whilst others attract. Why is that? One of Brenda’s own rules of thumb is, if a work challenges you more than you’re attracted to it, then you will probably grow into it, rather than get over it.

– Buying what you like is important but for investment one needs to ensure the liquidity of the work and the longevity of the artist’s career.

– Get to know people in the industry. Ask questions of gallery managers/owners, consultants and collectors. Try to meet the artists. If you want advice there is plenty for sale. Seek out a good contemporary art consultant who is prepared to help you to take your own journey.

– Collecting can be a life-time pursuit. Like enjoying fine wine, your taste will grow and expand.

Brenda Colahan is a Sydney-based fine art consultant specialising in the procurement and re-sale of modern and contemporary Australian art. A registered fine art valuer, Brenda specialises in private acquisition and investment portfolios. She writes for the Australian Art Market Report. Contact her on 0414 377 227 or email BrendaColahan@bigpond.com.

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