Considering art collecting? Personalizing your home with meaningful art can be a lifelong venture. Here are 10 tips to try.

Sherrie Riley Hawk speaks in reverential tones when she starts on the subject of art collecting. "It takes courage for an artist to make the piece. It takes courage for the gallery owner to show it. And it takes courage to buy it," said Hawk, owner of Sherrie Gallerie in the Short North. "That's what makes it so gratifying once you take the plunge."

Hayley Savage, owner New Albany's Hayley Gallery-which features the work of several Ohio artists-compares it to falling in love. "There is that 'Oh' moment that's like a flush of air down your throat when you make a connection with a piece of art," she said. "If you don't take it home, you will always think about it." (She still remembers her first purchase-a $250 folk-art piece bought when she was making $250 a week.)

And Hali Robinson, manager of A Muse Gallery in German Village and an avid collector herself at just 22, treats the topic of buying with a "just do it" attitude. "Buy all the time, no matter where you are or what you're doing. Buy what you're reacting to," she said. "It's like clothes-some of your clothes come from
T.J. Maxx, and some of your clothes come from Saks."

Here, the trio shares tips on starting a valuable collection-no matter age or income.

10 tips to try

Considering collecting? Now is an especially good time to start. Art prices are down, and some older pieces are back on the market because longtime collectors are selling.

1 Buy what you love. "Dcor, you buy to match. Art, you buy to love," Savage said. It could be paintings, textiles or sculptures, teapots or jewelry, Ohio or 20th century American artists, or a mix of all kinds of objects. Your first purchase could cost $50 or $5,000. Over time, your collection will reveal itself.

2 Think value. Look for art that will hold its value. "Consider a successful artist-one who is collected by museums," Riley Hawk said. Or, consider a mid-career artist whose work is ascending in the art world, Robinson said.

3 Buy original. Buy one-of-a-kind work rather than numbered prints or editions. The latter generally do not increase as much in value, and they're not easy to sell. A good way to look at them, Riley Hawk said, is to do the math. If the print is $100, and it's one of 100, is it really a $10,000 idea?

4 Educate yourself. Once you find a type of art or an artist you want to invest in, educate yourself by reading, visiting museums and galleries, attending shows and meeting artists. Learning what inspires the artist and how he or she works adds to your appreciation.

5 Make friends. Get comfortable with a couple of local art galleries and owners and let them educate you. "It is very difficult for a lot of people to feel comfortable in an art gallery. But good galleries focus on creating relationships and friendships with their clients," Robinson said. "You should feel free to ask why a piece is priced as it is, and even what the gallery owner collects."

6 Keep records. Get documentation for the pieces you buy, including an appraisal, the artist's resume and the artist's statement on the work. This will help you value the work later, especially if you decide to sell or gift it.

7 Get display help. Ask the gallery owner or artist for advice on displaying and caring for objects. They'll advise on cleaning, how to minimize light damage or buying special displays. A gallery owner can help you install the art at home, too, including waxing sculptures to ensure they aren't knocked over.

8 Rearrange continually. When you tire of an object, consider reframing or storing it for a while. Rearrange your entire collection to give everything a new look. Or sell or gift a piece or two and move on. "You don't feel like you have to have a couch forever," Riley Hawk said. "Why feel that way about a piece of art?"

9 Do this As you buy pieces, vary their sizes to keep things interesting, or look for an "anchor" work or two to tie your collection together, Robinson suggested.

10...Or that. If you want, choose an eclectic collection of styles and types of art. "As you age, everything changes-your tastes, thoughts and likes," Savage said. An eclectic collection accommodates that. "And it makes for an interesting home when each room has a different surprise in it."

Hayley Gallery, at 45 Second St. in New Albany (614-855-4856), features more than 60 Ohio artists, from painters and sculptors to jewelry and found-art creators.

Sherrie Gallerie, at 694 N. High St. in the Short North (614-221-8580), specializes in regional contemporary art, sculpture, ceramics and art jewelry.

A Muse Gallery, at 188 Whittier St. (614-565-8813), carries the works of nearly 40 of the country's top top painters, sculptors and fiber artists.

Local Up-and-Comers

Some of the region's top art talents got their start at the Columbus College of Art and Design, whose annual art sale showcases the works of students and alums. It's an important event on the local art scene, and a great place to find young talent. The 2011 sale is April 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the LoAnn Crane Center for Design (Downtown, at the corner of E. Long St. and Cleveland Ave.).
For details, visit or call 614-437-7487.