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Sick of White Walls? Here's How to Start Your Art Collection

11/28/2013 05:17 EST | Updated 01/28/2014 05:59 EST

So you've bought your first home, or maybe rented that first apartment and you look around at the empty walls.

You see your old posters that once adorned your dorm, and think "Gee, do I really want to put those up? Or would I prefer the blank white walls?" Ultimately you decide that it's time to start buying the real thing: original art. Daunting a task as it might be, you have to get your feet wet and bite the bullet sometime, right?

Where do you begin? Well, suffice it to say you now have a treasure trove of galleries, student shows and art fairs (and online art sites!) to choose from. But hey, that's a whole new intimidating task for you -- sifting through all that art can be scary for the first time art buyer, so fret not, and do not be discouraged.

Here are some helpful tips to help navigate those waters:

1. Buy what you love. You will always enjoy it if you buy that piece that speaks to you. It doesn't have to even evoke a "happy place," as long as it means something to you.

2. Do not try to match your walls or decor. Way too contrived and predictable. Put away that pillow and that paint chip. This is art for the long haul, and your walls won't always be that shade of green.

3. Buy it because you love it first, and then find a 'home' for it in your home. Buying for that particular space is never the way to go. That spot over the mantle will always be the first place you may want some art, but the last place for which you'll find it. Just go with it.

4. Be brave. Think not what your mother-in-law might say (or just wince). Buy what you will want to look at each day, not what she would. And by the way, do you like all the artwork in her house?

5. Go to local art fairs. Buy something from an up-and-coming art star, not that artist that everyone else is talking about. There is a gem at every one of those shows that is undiscovered.

6. Art can commemorate moments in your life. Take it slow and make it your own personal scrapbook. That yearly anniversary present is a great idea!

7. Still gun-shy? START SMALL. Why? Less of a commitment both visually and financially. Once you start feeling comfortable with what you like and where to find it, you'll be more confident with buying that larger piece. Small works look great in a wall grouping or vignette or even sitting on a bookshelf...so again, go with it.

8. Take your time and build your collection. Don't buy to fill a room or space. Take it slow and collect over time. You may find something amazing on that trip to Paris next year, so don't rush it.

9. Have fun. Don't think of it as a chore. Go into the gallery with an open mind and without any preconceived ideas of what you're looking for. The more open to whatever strikes you in the moment, the better it is for your art buying fun!

10. If you still don't want to take the plunge and buy artwork on your own, then find an art dealer who you trust. A good dealer will have a curated stable of artists and can edit for you, based on what you think you may like. Sometimes you just need someone to help you figure it out.

It's always good to remember to relax and not be too anxious or serious about buying art. Original art on your wall is just that -- art for you, on your wall. As we always say in the art world, "There are no art emergencies."