Starting Your Art Collection {part 3}

Okay - so we've covered how I started collecting art, and overcoming some common myths about starting your own collection. Now let's talk about where to find art! Some of these might seem obvious, but are worth mentioning anyways.

#1 Big Public Art Galleries - For a relatively non-intimidating start, you could go to one of the large public galleries like the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Art Gallery of Hamilton. These will have many different types of artwork, some of which you'll want to spend time with and some of which you won't. That's cool - notice what you're drawn to, enjoy it, and learn more about it if you feel so inspired. You can't buy the art off the walls of these galleries, so that pressure is completely removed and you get to just look for the sake of looking. They will also have a gift shop, with books, prints, and gift items. I can't seem to leave the Art Gallery of Ontario without a gorgeous new book ;)

#2 Private (or Commercial) Art Galleries - I'm spoiled by living in a city like Toronto, where they seem to be everywhere, but likely no matter where you live there's an art gallery within day-trip distance. Or maybe it's a weekend trip :) These are smaller galleries, where the art on the walls is for sale. Some of them are gallery/boutique, where they will also have high quality ceramics and/or jewellery as well as art. If this is your first time being in a place like this, you might feel slightly intimidated and not know what to say or ask. It's okay to just look around first, and then see if you have any questions about a particular piece or artist - usually the gallery owner or staff will be very friendly and helpful, and they are happy to share information about the artists they carry. One of my personal favourite galleries in Toronto is Blue Crow Gallery on Gerrard just west of Coxwell (and yes, you'll find some of my work there!); they always have such a joyful and colourful selection of pieces from local artists. Many will have an email list that you can subscribe to for updates about events and openings - going to art openings is a great opportunity to get to meet and talk to the artist(s) in person.

#3 Outdoor Art Fairs - Another great way to meet the artists and discuss their work! Toronto has more outdoor art fairs than I can count, with new ones each year, so how do you know which ones to attend? You could choose ones that happen close to your neighbourhood, or based on free time in your busy summer schedule, but I'd recommend choosing based on a quick bit of online research. The more established fairs like the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and the Riverdale ArtWalk have online artist galleries leading up to the show - simply check out the website for the art fair, and have a look through their gallery of participating artists. Once you've gone to a few of these and collected postcards and business cards from the artists you're interested in, some of these names and images will start to become familiar. There's such a wide range of artwork at these fairs, with artists who are just starting, to artists who've been doing this for decades. Most of these outdoor fairs are free or have a very reasonable admission price to help cover their costs. Many of these artists will also have an email newsletter that you can sign up for to know where to find them in the future. And if you're from Toronto, don't forget that you can also leave Toronto! There are some really great fairs happening within day-trip distance :) One of my favourite out-of-Toronto outdoor fairs is the HandMade Market in Niagara. This started off as mainly a high-quality artisan market, but in the past couple of years has begun to include a diverse group of amazing artists (and yes - yours truly ;) ). The Spring and Fall HandMade Markets also take place at a winery, which is a bonus.

Here's a list of my own upcoming art fairs.

And here's where you can sign up to receive my own newsletter about upcoming events.

#4 Indoor Art Fairs - these have a higher-end feel to them compared to the laid-back park atmosphere of the outdoor shows (and a higher admission price to go along with it), but are essentially the same idea. Each artist (or gallery, depending on the fair) has their own booth, displaying their current work. Ask questions about work you're interested in, and don't be shy about telling the artists what you love about their work! Most artists work in isolation most of the time, and these fairs are where they get to really see what resonates with people, which is a really gratifying part of the process (speaking from personal experience). One of my favourite indoor shows to shop at - and now to participate in - is the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. You'll see so many different beautiful and amazing things at this show, and all designed and made here in Canada. This show includes many different types of artists and artisans, so you'll also see ceramic artists and wood workers, along with local fashion and jewellery designers. There are also a couple of big indoor fairs dedicated to only fine art, such at The Artist Project and Art Toronto.

#5 Open Studio or Studio Tour - most areas where there are a fair number of artists working will organize an annual studio tour. The Beach Studio Tour is probably the most well-known one in Toronto, and there are also tours in Haliburton and other cottage country areas. When we drove around Cape Breton Island a few years ago, the tourism office was able to give us a map of the artists' studios along the route which was fantastic. A lot of artists will organize their own Open Studio events, often around the end of the year. This is an amazing opportunity to see where the artist creates their work, and a lot of times you can also see some of their earlier work that you might not ever see at the fairs or galleries.

#6 Online - the easiest (laziest??) way to see art is by searching online. This might be a good place to get a quick start, just to see what interests you. It's also a good place to continue to follow the work of artists you've found that you like. Instagram is my personal favourite place to see what the artists I love are up to, and also where I tend to share most of my own behind-the-scenes images {here's my Instagram account if you'd like to check it out}. There are also sites like Art Bomb (where they auction off a piece of art daily) and Artsy (which has art profiles you can search, as well as information about fairs and collecting.)

#7 Antique, Thrift, and "Junk" stores - this is not a great or predictable way to find art, but over the years I've scored a few treasures from searching in places like this. It doesn't matter to me that they aren't "worth" anything, it just matters that I love it and it makes me happy :)

No matter where you go to look at art, ENJOY IT! Wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks and water, and go with someone who will also enjoy it (or go on your own if you feel like it - better than going with someone who wants to leave as soon as they get there!). Have a great experience, and if you find something you love and want to purchase, then that piece in your home will remind you of that great experience :)