If you fancy yourself as something of a Peggy Guggenheim but are (as yet) a little unsure of how to crossover from simply curious to compulsive collector, Georgia Spray, of Partnership Editions, is here to guide you in the right direction.
Georgia’s curated platform, Partnership Editions, connects accessibly priced, original artworks by emerging artists with would-be collectors. In effect, it’s the optimum place to start your education and grown your very own collection.
“I think it’s important to ‘get your eye in’ before you make your first purchase. Visit museums and galleries as a way of determining what you like and what you don’t. Following artists on Instagram or saving images that you like is a great way to also understand your own tastes before making the leap.”
Whether you’re keen to buy a piece for your home, get the scoop on the art grads to keep tabs on, or are in need of a good framer, Georgia’s guide will answer all your collecting queries and curiosities.
What was the first artwork you acquired?
I bought my first artwork at a degree show where my friend India Dewar was exhibiting. I bought an etching off her which hangs in pride of place in my living room. You never forget your first art purchase, it’s such an exciting experience.
Which artists can we currently find in your collection?
I tend to collect art by the artists I work with at Partnership Editions. You’ll find Hester Finch, Rose Electra Harris, Venetia Berry, Lady Skollie and Alexandria Coe all hanging in my living room together.
How do you categorise your six annual drops at Partnership Editions?
We let each artist curate the theme for their drop collections as we want it to be as organic as possible. I love that each artist approaches their drop collections like mini exhibitions, with a strong narrative thread running throughout the works. We release a new drop every other month, so keep an eye out for them as works tend to go fast and are one of a kind.
Talk us through the line-up of artists in your latest drop…
I am very excited about our Autumn Drop, the artists have created some outstanding original artworks, from seaside pastel works by Camilla Perkins to Nude portraits with flaming heads by Hester Finch to more muted botanical works by Lisa Hardy and Julianna Byrne. There’s something for everyone and at any budget, so be sure to have a look.
How can potential buyers ensure they’re the first to know when the collection drops?
You can be the first to know about our drops and any other events by signing up to our newsletter – we send you an email on the morning of the drop before letting, say our Instagram followers know, so you get first dibs on the works.
Five principles to guide your first purchase…
Don’t be afraid to ask questions; buy what you love; buy living artists; no budget is too low; and think long term (don’t just buy to sell).
Tips on determining your art budget?
What you’re prepared to spend on art is so subjective, but remember that art should live on past trends, you should buy works that you’d want to live with forever. With that in mind, you may be willing to spend more than you think. Don’t feel that any budget is too small though, as you really should be able to start with any budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to artists or dealers about why something costs what it does, there’s usually quite a logical explanation (eg how long it took to paint, the size, the detail, the rarity etc), and once you understand this a bit better you will have a better sense of whether you’re willing to part with the funds.
How important is figuring out your “style”?
As with anything your tastes can evolve over time, but the best art collections are truly personal to the collector, rather than comprised of works that someone has bought because they’ve been told to, or because they are thinking of investment above anything else. Your collection should not only tell the story of the artists who created the works, but also tell a story about you.
Advice on researching the art you’d like to invest in…
Don’t be afraid of art advisors. Many people are afraid to strike up conversations with art professionals or artists for fear that they will say the wrong thing, or that they will be charged a fee for asking questions. At Partnership Editions, we are thrilled when collectors ask us to help them start a collection and there are no hidden costs for doing this. Instagram is a great resource, use it to follow artists and art schools, you get a great insight into their process in the studio which makes the collecting process more rewarding in the long run.
The artists and gallerists to follow on Instagram?
All of our artists have Instagram accounts which are a great way to get a unique behind the scenes insight. For example, @hesterfinchw, @venetiaberry, @juliannabyrne – also follow art schools to discover emerging talent such as @sladeschool, @royaldrawingschool and @thegreatwomenartists for a brilliant roster of female artists.
Advice on commissioning artwork…
Some artists are open to creating commissions, and others aren’t so best to check before setting your heart on the idea. Be prepared to pay a little bit of a premium for a commissioned work, but you should be able to then give some guidance and have some input. I think the best commissions are when the client is happy to make suggestions of what they love, but also let the artist take the lead – ultimately if you’re commissioning a work by an artist you love, you still want it to look like their work, not your own work…
The art fairs worth attending…
I find art fairs can be pretty overwhelming places to get clued up, so be prepared to take it in bite sizes and not try and take on everything. Fairs often have “emerging gallery” or “artist-led” sections which are a great place to focus your time. In London, check out fairs such as Woolwich contemporary print fair, 1:54 African Contemporary art fair, Start Art Fair and Photo London.
Any guidance for buying art at auction?
I think auctions are such a fun thing to experience even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Go and check out Christies and Sotheby’s for a great way to see museum quality works before they disappear into private hands. In terms of buying at auction, houses such as Bonhams and Phillips have sales geared towards the emerging collector – and print auctions can be a great place to pick up a more affordable work by a big name. Again, ask as many questions as possible – they have a plethora of specialists who are very knowledgeable and will be willing to guide you.
Have you got any good recommendations for framing?
Don’t go for a cheap frame. So many people buy a wonderful work and don’t do it the justice it deserves. Framing is an investment and can really make or break an artwork, so it’s worth getting it right from the get-go. Speak to a framer about your budget and ask for their suggestions. Check out our guide to framing for full tips here.
And finally, any advice on deciding where to hang your latest addition…
Don’t get too fixated on the idea that once a work is hung up it has to stay there forever. Be open to moving things around once and a while – it can often breathe new life into a room, and make you look at the artwork in a new way.