Whether you are a collector or just getting started in buying art, Lakelands’ artists and gallery managers have some suggestions.

Artist Jim Brinson, with the nonprofit artist cooperative, The Artist’s Coop, in Laurens, says one of the best ways to incorporate a piece of art into a space is to “empty and room and do it in reverse of what most people do.”

Remove all the furnishings and decor, place the art and then decorate around it.

“When it comes to collecting art, some choose to collect pieces by a particular artist or a theme, such as flowers,” Brinson said. “However, you could also base what you collect on various elements of art, taking into account balance, harmony and design.”

Brinson suggests taking an art class, to learn fundamentals – line, shape, color, texture and value.

“Most people just go on instinct,” Brinson admits. “Look for something that talks to you, something that strikes some kind of a chord. Some might buy based on sentimentality, whereas others might buy based on color.”

Brinson said he and his wife, Barbara, are artists and art collectors.

“We’re just very eclectic,” Brinson said. “If we like something, we just buy it, and make it work with our other things.”

Hsueh An White of Frames Unlimited: Act II in McCormick, said buying a piece of art for yourself should be “instinctual.”

“if you go to an art show, and you keep going back to a particular piece and stand in front of it, then you know it has to come home with you,” White said. “That’s true whether I am buying for my shop or for myself. Where my shop is concerned, I also have to consider what other people might like.”

When seeking hand-crafted art, White said it should express creativity and “the loving hands that made it happen.”

“It might not be machine-perfect, but you know somebody created it,” White said. “It’s a privilege to have a place to show pretty things, where I get to play with them first. Then, other people get to take them home.”

Each artist prices work differently, White said, noting there are affordable finds for every price point.

“Most of us just don’t think twice about paying for a nice meal and we don’t argue about the price. We pay whatever is on the menu.” White said. “But, many people don’t think the same way about art. For several hundred dollars, you can enjoy a piece of art, at home, for a long time.”

For years, White has been a skilled framer of art.

“Because I do things with my hands, I respect people who create,” White said. “People who have artistic talent have to make a living and they should be supported, by people buying what they create.”

Judson Arce studied art in France. He is owner of Natty’s on Trinity Street in Abbeville, where he sometimes displays his paintings.

“You have to go with what speaks to you,” Arce said. “Check out local galleries, studios and shops. Lander University also has a lot of talent right now.”

Arce said he’s attracted to art that speaks to him emotionally or connects with him through memory, whereas others are drawn to subject matter or color or shape.

“Spend more than you think you can afford,” Arce said.

Laura Bachinski, clay artist and owner of Main and Maxwell gallery and retail shop in Greenwood, said starting an art collection doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet.

“Hand-crafted items can be purchased for as little as a few dollars,” Bachinski said, noting hand-drawn cards don’t cost much and can be beautiful. “You could also begin by attending student art shows, where emerging artists are just starting to sell their work. For far too long, there has been a false perception that collecting art was only for a select few.”

Greenwood Artist Guild members Helen Hutson of McCormick and Scarlet P. Byars of Greenwood suggest going with original works or limited original prints.

They spoke with the Index-Journal during a recent arts and crafts show at Piedmont Technical College.

“Don’t think about a piece of art as an investment to grow in value,” Byars said. “Buy it because you like it. I like mixing different things.”

With a background in interior design, collage, assemblage and altered art, Byars said that sense of mixing things she likes works well, because she has a fondness for vintage things that make their way into her art.

If you do buy art for investment, Hutson recommends consulting with a professional art dealer, agent or broker.

Buying art for investment and buying art for enjoyment are two “totally different things,” Hutson said.

“Don’t be in a rush,” Hutson said. “If it’s for your home, you have to look at it. Anytime you travel, go to galleries and jot down artists who interest you. You can also check out a lot of galleries online.”

Some galleries have “staging areas” with blank walls and a faux fireplace or other items, where you can hang a piece you are considering and get a feel for what it might look like on a wall, Hutson said.

“Some artists might even bring pieces to your house,” Hutson said.

Hutson paints, does wood-turning and photography.

“I paint a lot of animals and you sort of have to go where the interest is,” Hutson said, noting many of her equine paintings appeal to sporting art fans. “Artists can also steer you toward other artist’s work you might like.”

If you know what you want and find a working artist you like, Byars suggests commissioning a piece.

“If you purchase a small piece, it might get lost on a wall, unless you consider a grouping of smaller pieces together, to make it pop,” Byars said.

Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518