Art Entrepreneur Adele Smejkal Shares 5 Savvy Tips for Aspiring Young Collectors

Artistellar was founded in 2020 to bridge the gap between the brick-mortar gallery and e-commerce.

Adele Smejkal, the founder of Artistellar, shared her insights on what apsiring young collectors should know when getting started.

Last year, in the midst of the quarantine spring, art lovers, collectors, and artists found themselves increasingly (and some would say inevitably) turning to online platforms as the most viable option for seeing and showing art. While brick-and-mortar galleries scrambled to launch viewing rooms, existing online platforms and artists with strong social media presences saw an uptick in direct sales.

But curator and entrepreneur Adele Smejkal noticed a gap in this new world of collecting. The sherpa-like role of the art dealer who helps a buyer build their collection was nowhere to be seen. Some aspiring collectors, she guessed, would be too gun-shy to make a purchase online because, well, they weren’t quite sure what they should be looking for exactly.

Annabel Faustin, Community. Courtesy of Artistellar.

Annabel Faustin, Community. Courtesy of Artistellar.

Thus Artistellar was born as an online platform to bridge the brick-and-mortar gallery model with e-commerce, and offer a tech-savvy, approachable feel that would appeal to millennials. The platform, which is entering its second year, offers accessibly priced works by an international group of artists. Right now, “Harmony,” an online exhibition of works by French Annabel Faustin, can be explored. 

Recently, Smejkal caught up with the Artnet Gallery Network and shared her five go-to tips for those considering collecting.  


Don’t Think You Have to be a Millionaire

“I always like to give the collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel as an example. They both worked as civil servants and managed to build a world-class collection on a tight budget, living in a tiny apartment. You only need a max of £200 to buy a good quality work on paper from an early-career artist. Or you can save up, and instead of having three works on paper, you can have a small size canvas painting from an emerging talent.”

Sarah Longworth-West, Bind (2019).

Sarah Longworth-West, Bind (2019).


Art Isn’t Just For Intellectuals 

“People always say to me, ‘But I don’t understand art.’ To which I say: art is not science. There are no formulas to learn or understand. Start with looking at art and try to ask yourself, ‘What do I feel when I look at this? Does it create a particular emotion? Does it remind me of something?’“


You Don’t Need a Plan

“The term ‘art collecting’ might sound intimidating and misleading. It’s okay not to start purchasing art in a cohesive way. You don’t have to define yourself right away; just see what you like. Do you prefer figurative art or abstract? Are dark colors your thing, or do you prefer bright tones? Eventually, you will notice that the majority of your purchased works are by women artists, for instance, or that all the works are somehow political. Along the way, you will find your taste and it might turn into a very interesting collection.“

Winnie Seifert, Anita. Coutesy of Artistellar.

Go to a Gallery that Specializes in Emerging Artists

“It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline, but it’s essential to see if the gallery is not purely a commercial place selling quantity over quality. The galleries’ role solely focused on early-career artists is to go through an endless number of artworks and studio visits to scout interesting artists with potential. The best galleries curate exhibitions and put artworks in a cohesive context or tell a story around them. This also adds value to the specific artwork you purchase.“


The Artist’s CV Isn’t Everything 

“Maybe you know the names of some prestigious art schools, and you tend to judge the artists based on that. Well, the truth is a lot of self-made artists from little known schools have achieved great things. It’s like with business. You don’t have to go to business school to become a successful entrepreneur. You should look at the artwork itself; is it different than what you’ve seen before? Is there an interesting element or subject matter? Or is the artist solely copying another artist? Once again, a specialized gallery will present you with artists that are worth it.“

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