Art can help us express ourselves and make our interiors truly unique. What if you want to start building your own art collection, but don’t know where to begin? Today I’m having a conversation with Desislava Eick, the founder of Young Collectors and an experienced Art Advisor, who shares her tips and inspirations for aspiring collectors. Desislava’s Instagram is a visual treat for everyone, who like Dreams & Design, is crazy in love with contemporary art. Scroll down for the full interview.

How to get started in the art world

When did you fall in love with art?

I became fascinated with art over time. My mother was an avid art lover and buyer, so she introduced me to many contemporary artists in my teens. Christo, Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein were among her favorites. Moreover, we would visit art fairs and exhibitions such as Art Cologne and the one that is still my highlight – La Biennale di Venezia.

When I was about 14 I started to collect a series of magazines called ‘Maler’ (Painters). Each issue gave me a deeper insight into art history. I realised how art is tied to the time it was created.

Tips for aspiring collectors. Sean Scully Biennale di Venezia
Desislava Eick in front of Sean Scully’s tower in Venice

How did you become an Art Advisor?

Since my studies were very academic, most of my fellow students wanted to pursue a career in a museum, continue with research or work at a gallery. I used to work at a gallery in Paris, but after some months I decided it was not for me.

I really enjoyed working with people though. During my time working in fashion and advertising I connected many of my friends to artists that I had previously known from the art academy or in general, the art scene. Then I heard about this American concept of art consulting, which at the time was barely known in Germany, and immediately thought – YES that’s it!

Desislava Eick
Desislava Eick inside the K20 and K21 art museums in Dusseldorf

The art world may seem very intimidating to those who want to enter it with a limited budget. What are your tips for aspiring young collectors?

I totally understand how intimidating and closed the art world can be. There are a lot of gatekeepers. But I feel that things are changing. You just have to look for people you are comfortable with. These days it’s so much easier to connect through social media. When it comes to tips for aspiring collectors, it’s important to look up galleries and institutions in your area. This is key.

Tips for aspiring collectors. Installation by Alicja Kwade at the Langen Foundation
Installation by Alicja Kwade at the Langen Foundation Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Give yourself at least six month (or better a year) before you buy your first work. Meanwhile, go out and see as many exhibitions as you can. Educate your eye and find your preferences. Then search for galleries or independent places to visit and connect with the people. You can also go to art fairs, where you will see a lot of works, but this can be overwhelming at first.

How to choose art for your interior

How to choose art for your home and office? Should you follow trends or simply trust your personal taste?

Here you have to be very clear with your intentions. Home and office need a very different set of criteria that you will have to define. Ask yourself what you want to achieve. For your home you will probably want to create an atmosphere that suits your personal needs and taste. You can usually be bolder with your choice of art.

Don’t be afraid to create contrast with your interior. Art that is merely decorative and too ‘harmonious’ with your decor might become boring after a while. 

Fondazione Prada in Milan
Goshka Macuga’s installation inside Fondazione Prada in Milan Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Are there topics that interest you? Do you enjoy narrative, realistic, minimal or abstract works? Follow your personal taste, but do not buy on first impulse. You will probably want to enjoy looking at the artwork for a long time. Some things that ignite our enthusiasm are tiring to look at after a while, if you see them every day.

Ask the gallery if you can try the work at home. Most galleries will allow you to try it out or even sit with it for a few days until you make a final decision.

Tips for young collectors sculpture by James Lee Byars
A sculpture by James Lee Byars in Cologne Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

How about choosing art for the office environment? Any tips for aspiring business collectors?

For an office you will have to consider your clients, your staff and most importantly the image you want to communicate. The art in your office should not interfere with the message of your business. A poor choice can have a negative impact on the quality of your business. Consider the materials and colors of the interior. Art should highlight and complement these.

Jannis Kounellis Fondazione Prada Venezia
Installation by Jannis Kounellis at Fondazione Prada in Venice Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Abstract works in subtle colours are usually a good choice for a work environment, as is a series of works on paper that you can arrange in groups. This usually creates a feeling of clarity and order and is sophisticated and interesting to look at. Maybe you can find artworks related to the theme of your business?

How to start collecting art on a budget

What’s the minimum budget for starting your own art collection? 

One of my tips for aspiring collectors is that you should buy the best that you can afford in terms of quality. For example at YOUNG COLLECTORS we offer original works starting at 350 Euro. I know many collectors who started out paying their first artwork off in rates (including me).

Luma Foundation in Arles Frank Gehry
Luma Foundation in Arles with a tower designed by Frank Gehry Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Editions are also a good way to buy affordable pieces from established artists. Check out fineartmultiple.de or vogelartedition.com. Overall buying art online is becoming more and more popular and accepted. You can see a lot of artists on Instagram promoting their art. I buy art online for my clients, but mostly works that I have seen in person before, by artists that I already know. 

There are many emerging artists out there. How to identify a promising one that’s actually worth the investment?

Get to know the artist. Look at what they have done so far. You should like at least three or more of their past works. Get to know the gallerist, talk to them. Consider if you like what you learn about the artist. Take your time. You have to train your eye. This takes a while, but it’s time well spent. Look at as many museum shows as possible. Exchange opinions with people while looking at art. With time you will develop trust in your personal taste and criteria.

Kerry James Marshall
A painting by Kerry James Marshall in the collection of Museum Ludwig in Cologne
Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

What do you think about online viewing rooms?

When they came up some years ago they were a failure. Now out of necessity they have almost become a standard in the art world. I believe they will remain, maybe with more sophisticated features, because they have that one important aspect that you can access them from wherever you are in the world. 

Tips for aspiring art collectors
Microworld by Liu Wei, Biennale di Venezia 2019 Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Of course you can never replace the real physical encounter with an artwork, but in case you know the artist’s work and are familiar with it physically you can base your decision on this type of presentation. To be honest by now I’m really bored with viewing rooms and delete most offers. I’m looking for real life opportunities. 

Where to find art inspiration for your interior

Tell me more about your latest project Young Collectors – where did you get the idea for this new format?

Young Collectors is a brand new format that I launched in November 2020. It aims to support people who enter the art world and want to start buying and collecting art in a relaxed and fun way. Clients, who buy art during our presentations, can become part of the Young Collector’s community. They enjoy benefits at exclusive invitation-only events and receive gifts from our lifestyle partners.

At the same time we as a group support artists in their career, which is so important these days. While interacting with a cool crowd, Young Collectors learn to feel at ease and gather knowledge about many art world topics naturally.

I came up with the idea during the lockdown, a time when the art world was forced to come to a halt like most businesses. No fairs, no travels, no exhibitions. In this time many digital formats came up to bridge the gap, but nothing can truly replace experiencing art in person.

Tips for aspiring collectors Desislava Eick
Desislava Eick in front of Gerhard Richter’s painting

In my job as an art consultant I always aim to open doors for people to come to understand more about art, but I am well aware that it is not an easy scene to navigate in the beginning. People feel they need a certain education, financial status and background. Also art consulting has its price. So I wanted to create something accessible and enjoyable and also support and give back through my extensive international network.

Andreas Hentrich is your first Young Collectors artist – what is so unique about his artworks?

For now I plan to do two presentations for Young Collectors per year, one introducing a national artist and one with an international artist.

Looking back at more than 30 years of my life in the art world and nearly 20 years of working in this field, I have gathered an extensive pool of contacts and artists that I’m passionate to share with a wider audience. Andreas is one of them, because his technical skills are immaculate and his approach unique and persistent.

Panting by Andreas Hentrich
Adreas Hentrich, Untitled (Leaves 15) Photo: IG youngcollectors.yc

He is included in some significant collections, yet not found by the common art market. This allows for a very fair pricing enabling aspiring collectors to acquire a high quality work even with a modest budget. Most of all I love the energy of his works, impactful yet quiet and centered.

At the moment Andreas Hentrich is also participating in a museum show in Krakow at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology. The exhibition Exploring Botany shows historical and contemporary botanical art from Japan and Germany until the end of August 2021. 

Your are based in Cologne. What are your favourite places for art lovers in the area?

The Rhineland is a tremendously rich area in terms of culture.

So I would say stay at Hotel Prevôt, a small boutique hotel in Cologne which is brand new and for which I had the pleasure to do the art consulting. Apart from original art by contemporary artist Sala Lieber and gorgeously designed comfortable rooms, it has the perfect location by the Rhine river to explore Cologne, just a few steps from the most important museums and sights.

Tragedia Civile by Jannis Kounellis at Kolumba Museum
Tragedia Civile by Jannis Kounellis at Kolumba Museum in Cologne
Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

In Cologne my favorite museum is Kolumba designed by Peter Zumthor. Museum Ludwig has a world renown collection of American Pop art, one of the largest Picasso collections and a wonderful collection of the Russian Avant-garde.

For Design Lovers the makk – Museum of Applied Arts is a must with a great design collection.

Langen Foundation
The Langen Foundation in Neuss, designed by Tadao Ando Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

Halfway between Cologne and Düsseldorf is an absolute gem, the Langen Foundation, a private museum designed by Tadao Ando. It’s open to the public with great contemporary art exhibitions surrounded by stunning architecture and nature.

Alicja Kwade Emergenz
Alicja Kwade, Emergenz in the Langen Foundation Photo: Desislava Eick/IG desislavaeick

In Düsseldorf the museums K20 and K21 are a must for every art lover. In K21 there is a spectacular installation by Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno that you can enter if you are not too afraid of heights. 

Tomas Saraceno K20 and K21 Museum in Dusseldorf
A roof installation by Tomas Saraceno in K20 K21 Museum in Dusseldorf Photo: IG mbvee

Finally, in both cities you will find many great galleries to visit. For for example Jan Kaps, Galerie Daniel Buchholz or Galerie Karsten Greve in Cologne and Sies + Höke, Galerie Konrad Fischer or Cosar HMT in Düsseldorf to name just a few.

What are the art events that you’re looking forward to in 2021?

Artwork by Yayoi Kusama
Photo: IG Hirschhorn

Definitely the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Museum Ludwig. I can’t wait to experience any kind of art in person again. I’m also curious to get to know more of the regional art places. Not being on the road so much has opened my eyes (again) for my closest surroundings.

Thank you so much for the interview and sharing your tips for aspiring collectors!

If you’re interested in contemporary art read Contemporary Art in Milan: Dan Flavin and Carlos Amorales exhibitions

To sum up, here are 5 tips for aspiring collectors:

  1. Look up art galleries and art institutions in your area. Go out and see as many exhibitions as you can.
  2. Give yourself at least six months to identify your preferences and find types of artworks that resonate the most with your taste and sensitivity.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to art gallerists and exchange opinions about art. Attend art events and consult your choices with a trusted Art Advisor.
  4. If you have a limited budget, buy the best quality that you can afford.
  5. Finally, don’t rush or buy on impulse. Looking at many artworks and meeting the artists will help you develop trust in your personal taste.