Purchasing your first piece of art may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be, according to Isolde Brielmaier, deputy director of the New Museum in New York City and renowned art curator. A great place to start your journey is Art Basel, the three-day event that connects galleries and artists with collectors and communities across the globe, which is taking place in Miami this weekend. 

“It’s a really wonderful opportunity to connect with artists that have exhibitions, see their work, commune with folks and catch up with what people are doing and thinking,” Brielmaier says. “Over the last several years, there's been a significant representation of BIPOC artists and, in particular, Black artists, presented,” at Art Basel Miami Beach, as well as other shows happening across the city, such as the New Art Dealers Alliance, Design Miami, Untitled Art and Scope, which recognizes emerging contemporary art and multi-disciplinary creative programming. 

Here are Brielmaier’s steps to purchasing your first piece and curating and caring for your own collection.

Jump Into Your Local Art Scene

“I always encourage people to think locally first in terms of learning more and becoming part of a community,” Brielmaier shares. “You can join a museum and become a member for as little as $50 to $75 a year. With that comes the benefits of being invited to exhibitions and different programs and events and discovering a community that shares a love of Black art and culture.”

She also suggests visiting local galleries which “are all very fairly well versed about artists and their artwork. It’s an opportunity to learn and also ask questions.”

Peruse Art Fairs

Art Basel and other art fairs are great places to learn more about artists and find a piece to buy. “You can speak with a gallery representative about well-known artists. If it's Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems or Kerry James Marshall, their work may be out of your price range, or they may already have pre-sold the work in preview to their regular collectors," says Brielmaier. "But there are smaller fairs with galleries featuring emerging or new artists, and their price point will probably be a little bit lower. You may not have as much competition for some of that work on display.”

Plan and Make Your Purchase

Your first art fair visit may be a more informational experience to educate yourself, ask questions and observe. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with artists and honed in on some pieces that speak to you, “the second time you go to a fair is when you may actually decide to make a purchase,” says Brielmaier.

Once you’ve purchased your art, “the work is packaged nicely and insured and shipped to you. You'll want to unwrap it and let it sit in your home. Place it on the floor on a towel so that it doesn’t ding the frame and let it sit for 24 hours to acclimate to the air and the humidity in your space. While it’s doing that you can look around and think about where it makes sense to present it.”

Keep It Safe

There are things to avoid when placing art in your home. “You don't want to hang it on a wall that gets direct sunlight. Photos fade and sunlight can have a negative effect on a painting,” Brielmaier advises. “Most of my art is towards the back of the home away from the sunlight. And I have blackout blinds.” You should also invest in good microfiber cleaning cloths to keep the glass and frame dust-free.

Relish in Your Piece

Now it’s time to enjoy your new collectible. “Art is meant to be appreciated,” Brielmaier declares. “If you know a little bit about your piece—this is where your research comes in—about the artist's bio and the materials used, that sort of information is always good to have because it will be a great conversation starter.”

Art Basel Miami Beach runs from December 1, 2022 through December 3, 2022.