The Art of the Matter

One way to make your home a reflection of your personality is to fill it with thoughtfully chosen art. While that may sound intimidating, Francisco Alvarez, president of Axis Art Projects art consultancy in Toronto, has news for you. “You don’t have to be an art expert at all. The key is finding works that are meaningful to you.” So how can you build an art collection? Alvarez shares his tips.

By Laura Bickle | 3 minute read

Apr 26

Francisco Alvarez

“For many collectors, however, the fun lies in ‘discovering’ a young artist who goes on to have a successful career.”

Francisco Alvarez

What are the benefits of building a thoughtfully created art collection?

A strong art collection reflects your tastes and interests, and is logical and cohesive. A few collectors really zone in on one particular medium (black and white photography, for example), but most have eclectic tastes. Your favourite artworks may contain the memory of a specific person or event, or have an interesting story behind them.


What advice would you give to homeowners to define and refine their taste in art?

Visit museums and galleries and think about the works that catch your eye. What is interesting about them? Are there certain artistic or craft techniques that you repeatedly land on? Do certain subjects (e.g., portraits) hold greater interest for you? These are great clues for you to remember when you are finally ready to invest in a piece. Working with an art advisor makes the complex art world a lot easier.


Commercial art galleries and art fairs are great places to find up- and-coming artists and get a sense of your art tastes and interests. Photo: Courtesy Axis Art Projects

What advice do you give those who want to buy art that is likely to appreciate in value?

There are no guarantees about an increase in value unless you can afford to invest in well-established artists. Many factors determine the value of an artwork, including its aesthetic appeal, cultural or social importance, its ownership and exhibition history, the artist’s reputation and past sales. Although we often read about incredible sale prices for artworks, many people are disappointed when they try to resell their art. For many collectors, however, the fun lies in “discovering” a young artist who goes on to have a successful career. 

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What are the benefits of working with an art consultant?

An established art consultant can help you find art you will love, with a far better chance of increasing in value. A. gallery owner can do the same, but they are in the business of selling only their own roster of artists. An art consultant can recommend a much wider range, giving you confidence that you are making the best purchase.


What sources of art do you recommend?

There are lots of online sites where you can purchase art, such as artsy.net or saatchiart.com. Buying online is fine if you already know the artist and can pay the dealer’s full price, but I believe that you really must see the artwork to receive its full impact. Drop in to a commercial art gallery or check out art fairs; gallerists and artists are more than happy to talk about the work. Creating a personal relationship is a rewarding part of the art-collecting journey.

Laura Bickle

Wahi Writer

Photo: Sandra Cardenas


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