The Art World has witnessed works by African American artists reach unprecedented national and international market demand. Everyday, Black Art In America (BAIA) receives new emails from individuals wanting to learn how and who to start collecting. So, if you’re ready to build your collection but not quite ready to spend the $21 million P. Diddy spent on his Kerry James Marshall, here are 10 tips from BAIA’s 25 most active collectors.

Tip #1: Buy what you like

The first and most common answer from collectors is buy what YOU Like. Your collection is your legacy, a record of your personal journey.  Keep in mind that art market tastes and demands often change. Playing the game of what is hot right now may leave you hanging later, so commit to works that move you. That way, whether it trends or not, it’s your winning collection. 

  • Be quick. If you see an artist work that you like and you’ve done your homework, be confident and buy it because you might not get another opportunity. (Collectors always talk about the pieces they wanted that got away.)
  • Enjoy the quest for new and exciting work.
Tip #2: Prepare by Learning

Become an educated buyer by consuming literature on black fine arts.  In today’s world, there is a plethora of free and paid resources. Whether you want to read, watch videos or listen to podcasts, you’ll find resources to help you up your art game.

  • Read. Read. Read! Building your art books and catalog library is as important as the art you collect. Remember this note: an informed collector is a good collector and artbooks go up in value also.
  • Cultivate your taste by learning about art. Visit galleries, artist studios, museums, and even art shows at colleges and universities. Start with your local art scene. 
  • Learn as much as you can about collecting black art by reading books, articles, talking to other collectors, and consulting art industry websites. Also, if you haven’t signed up for the online collecting class offered on BAIA website
Tip #3: Start Small then Grow

You can start collecting right away by realizing fine art comes in many forms. You don’t have to go straight for the huge canvases or sculptures. Small works on paper and canvas is a focus for many collectors. They take up less wall space and are easier on the wallet.

  • If you’re starting small, consider original prints until your budget can support the purchase of one-of-a-kind artwork. Many collectors started out buying limited editions. Then they moved to originals by obscure artists, as they typically have more affordable prices, until they were able to add works by more acclaimed artists. (It’s a progressive process for many collectors so be patient but get some art work on those walls!)
  • Buying original prints? We define an original print as an artwork that has been manually printed by the artist (or with some processes, printed under the artist’s direct supervision). It is not a reproduction. The artist will have created an image on block, stone, plate or screen from which the final print is produced. has many prints by artists like David Driskell, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis and contemporary artists like Jamaal Barber, Willie Cole, etc.
Tip #4: Know Where to Look

Art collectors can grow their collections from many sources.  The best rule of thumb is to experience art live and go where the art is. The most seasoned collectors will tell you that the art is everywhere. Start local:

  • Art organizations, museums, benefit auctions 
  • Fine art grad school exhibitions allow early access to artists who are typically affordable
  • Art fairs and festivals 
  • Many conventions and trade shows offer vendor markets where artists can be found estate sales, thrift and antique stores
  • Artists studios, auction houses 
  • Many collectors use Instagram and Facebook to find new artists.
  • More people are buying art online and it has never been easier than at
Tip #5: Gallery Relationships

Seeking out art experts with distinguished reputations allows you to buy with confidence.

  • Establishing a relationship with a gallery and fine art dealer is important. The galleries have a natural screening process and generally work with artists that are established within the market, and emerging artists that show tremendous potential. Remember the gallerists have seen a lot of work and can easily spot artists with something fresh to offer.

To read the remaining five  tips, please visit