Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.)

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By Heather Corcoran / Published by Dwell
The Affordable Art Fair New York is back, so we asked the exhibition's organizers to round up the best in show—all for $500 or less.

The hardest part about buying art is figuring out how to get started. Often it seems there's more eye candy to wade through than useful information. That's why many people find art fairs the best way to dive in. These massive art markets bring together dozens of galleries from around the globe, so attendees can get an art-buying crash course in just one afternoon. 

The latest edition of the Affordable Art Fair New York brings together work by 500 artists from 70 galleries—all priced under $10,000. 

We challenged these experts in affordability to find the lowest-priced options for entry-level buyers. As you cruise through these $500-or-less highlights, check out our tips for getting the best deal on a budget. 


BUDGET: $490

TIP: Look for framed pieces.

Just six inches square, Ewan Eason's take on the New York grid features hot gold foil on giclée. Budget bonus? It comes framed, saving the buyer hefty post-sale costs.

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 1 of 7 - Ewan Eason, <i>Sacred Booth Central Park</i>, 2016

Ewan Eason, Sacred Booth Central Park, 2016

PRICE: $475

TIP: Photos are your friend.

At any level of the market, photos tend to be priced lower than paintings (Compare the most expensive photo ever sold's $4.3 million price tag to the $300 million mark reached by the world's priciest painting). This 16-by-24-inch photographic print by Josh Soskin will keep the summer feeling alive all year long.

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 2 of 7 - Josh Soskin,<i> Summer-Float</i>, 2016

Josh Soskin, Summer-Float, 2016

BUDGET: $375

TIP: Look for limited-editions and multiples.

It shouldn't be a surprise that editioned pieces cost less than one-offs. Lori Hepner's colorful 17-by-17-inch c-print is one of 50—a kind of middle ground of edition sizes—meaning that you get an authentic art work at a fraction of the price.

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 3 of 7 - Lori Hepner, <i>@whitehouse, 3 Aug via web RT</i>, 2011

Lori Hepner, @whitehouse, 3 Aug via web RT, 2011

BUDGET: $325

TIP: Keep it simple.

Bold pieces like this Kimberly Genevieve photograph, which clocks in at 20 inches by 24 inches, are a great way to make a statement with a single piece. 

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 4 of 7 - Kimberly Genevieve, <i>Sugar High</i>, 2016

Kimberly Genevieve, Sugar High, 2016

BUDGET: $150

TIP: Know your edition size and number.

When buying multiples, like this screen print by Andy McKenzie, always be sure to ask about edition size and number. A closed edition means that the artist or gallery can only print a set number of works—and each piece's place within that series can affect its value.

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 5 of 7 - Andy McKenzie, <i>Rouge Radio</i>, 2014

Andy McKenzie, Rouge Radio, 2014

BUDGET: $135

TIP: Look for works on paper.

Buying art on a budget doesn't mean multiples are your only option. Works on paper—like this seven-by-seven-inch oil painting by Kristin Texeira—are usually lower-priced than their canvas counterparts. 

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 6 of 7 - Kristin Texeira, <i>Slippers</i>, 2016

Kristin Texeira, Slippers, 2016

BUDGET: $100

TIP: Don't be afraid to ask questions.

A good gallerist will be able to tell you how your piece was made. Bleach Box Photography Gallery, which brought this Richard Heep photo to the Affordable Art Fair, sells limited-edition C-type photographs hand-printed in the darkroom from negatives. The prints are then dry-mounted on aluminum with archival mounts.

Got $100? You Can Start an Art Collection. (Really.) - Photo 7 of 7 - Richard Heeps, <i>Red Lips</i>, 2016

Richard Heeps, Red Lips, 2016

Affordable Art Fair New York runs from September 28–October 2, 2016 at the Metropolitan Pavilion.