Learn about the artist and the process.
Part of the joy of owning original art is telling others the story behind it. Get to know the medium in which you are interested. Visit­ bookstores, galleries and studios, and talk to other collectors.

“Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to talk to the artist or the gallery,” says Jennifer Jacobs, director of the Seattle Affordable Art Fair. When buying photographic or art prints on paper, she suggests learning about the different printmaking processes used: “It’s all about turning insecurity into knowledge.”

Understand how to build value.
Knowing what future collectors will want is impossible, so you can’t assume that you will be able to resell your art at a higher price later. The best way to start a collection that might appreciate in value over a long period of time is to work with reputable, knowledgeable dealers who will help you buy quality art at fair prices.

“Buy the best artwork you can afford,” advises Rebekah Jacob of the Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, S.C. “Look at the artist’s credentials, publications, exhibitions, gallery representation and collector base. The more dense the artist’s résumé, often the more solid the investment. 

“Owning fine art is different than owning gold, stocks or bonds,” Jacob also emphasizes. “Art isn’t a commodity that can be liquidated quickly, and it must be cared for and displayed properly. Expenses such as storage, insurance, climate control and framing come into play.”

Some gallery ­clients never intend to sell the pieces they buy. Instead, they plan to pass their art down to the next generation or donate it to museums. Also, documenting details about the art can make it more attractive to potential buyers. Save all receipts, certificates of authenticity, artist statements, gallery brochures and exhibit catalogs.

Collect with conviction.
Whether you look for art online or in the physical world, approach the collecting process with passion. Your quest to discover art you love gives you fresh reasons to explore new cities, as well as opportunities to talk with artists and other creative people.

Today, the art world feels much less elitist than it has in the past, observes Ammann. “The Internet has opened doors for thousands of potential art enthusiasts. People who never felt comfortable walking into an art gallery and asking about art now can do it online.”

And once people realize original art is within their reach, it’s like a bridge, says Jacob. “Once you cross over, there’s no going back.” 

Calling all American Way readers: Visit CapturedGlobal.com and subscribe to its newsletter, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win Lisa Gizara’s iconic image, “La Tour Eiffel,” valued at $750.

Freelance journalist Eileen Fritsch is a neophyte art collector based near Cincinnati. She publishes the “Creatives at Work” blog for entrepreneurial artists, photographers, designers and writers.