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Starting an art collection doesn't have to be intimidating. In fact, it can be an enjoyable experience and a way to dive deeper into your love of art. Regardless of age or familiarity with the world of galleries and fairs, starting out requires patience, research, and a budget. Martine Chaisson of her eponymous gallery and Emily Siekkinen, the director of Octavia Art Gallery, lent their expertise on everything from shopping online vs. in person to insuring your new purchases. Here, all of the answers you need to start your collection with confidence.

Where do I begin?

You can begin anywhere! Chaisson recommends starting online, stating that most museums, galleries, auction houses, and artists are all on social media. "Researching artists online is an important way to familiarize yourself with an artist’s background, biography, available works, pricing, auction results, and more," says Siekkinen, who also suggests visiting museums and galleries in person.

When should I start?

Both women began to purchase art for their personal collections in their 20s. "My collecting began during my BFA program in college, trading with many of my artist friends.  I began purchasing art in my late 20s, based on pieces I fell in love with," says Siekkinen.

How much should I budget?

"Many of our young collectors set aside a certain amount of money monthly that they put towards a special piece," explains Siekkinen. Chaisson suggests searching for local and emerging artists. "There are so many talented artists in New Orleans right at your fingertips...Being a young collector myself, I'm always open to payment plan options within my own gallery. I love for my clients to have pieces they are excited about and also for the artists I represent to have as much exposure as possible."      

How do I determine my taste?

Chaisson says her approach may seem cliché, but "How does this make me feel?" is a good place to start. "Everyone should do that. Of course there are people who purchase only for the investment, but honestly when you find a piece that you really connect with it makes all the difference. One of the first pieces I purchased is next to my bed and every morning I look at it and it makes me have a different emotion: calm, happy, curious, surprised." She said she has owned said piece for almost a decade and just noticed a new color and brushstroke right in the middle of it. "How did I miss that?!"

Should I insure my art right away?

"Yes, always," says Chaisson.

How are young collectors received?

"We always love having young collectors in the gallery, and we are always happy to educate and explore the variety of artists we showcase in the gallery," Siekkinen assures. Phew!

How can I get into the art world?

Both women advise being active and open at home and while traveling by attending openings, visiting galleries and museum exhibitions, meeting with artists, and talking to gallerists.