No matter what stage of art collecting you are at, from expert to novice, you are always interested in what other collectors have to say. How did you start collecting? How many pieces do you own? Why did you choose that particular artist or piece? How easy was it to shop? There are so many questions I would like to ask.
In this article, we talked to Stephanie Aaron, a hobby collector and artist who recently purchased a piece on our platform.
So, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your collection started?
– I’m from New York, USA, and I’m actually a native New Yorker, which is rare. I’m an artist and designer, and I work in design during the day, and I’m an artist at other times.
Since I’m an artist, I’ve been collecting for a long time, naturally giving away my own work and receiving things from other artists. It’s fun to find someone who is a good artist and trade with them. So I have a lot of artwork by friends, and that’s how my collection started. It’s nice to have artwork by people you know.
Also, as the years went by, I started to buy works by people I didn’t know. I don’t buy eye-poppingly expensive works, but as an artist I have a discerning eye, so discovering unknown talent is part of the fun. If you look around my house, there’s already art everywhere.
If you want, I can give you a tour of my house. I think you’ll see there’s no more empty space on the walls.
House tour. Walls filled with art
As we begin our tour of her virtual house, we see that she has a wall-to-wall collection of artworks in her home, from posters by friends and her own works to large works she bought at auction and a portrait corner dedicated to her pets. Some of the space is reserved for Nobuo Ishii’s work, which she purchased at TRiCERA, but the rest of the space, including the kitchen, is filled with art.
Amazing! It’s like my home is a gallery, and I’m really enjoying it.
– Yes, I really never get bored. It’s not a big room, but the ceiling is high for New York, so I enjoy climbing up to the ceiling and decorating.
Do you know how many works you own at this point?
– I honestly don’t know, I didn’t even have the idea to count them. There are so many pieces of mine and other people’s art in the storage room downstairs that I don’t have enough space to display them. I probably have about 100 items in total.
Speaking of Ishii-san’s works, you were one of the first people to buy his works when you started selling them on our platform. I bet you’re a big fan, aren’t you?
– Yes, I am! He hadn’t posted anything for sale on Instagram before, so I didn’t have the idea to ask him if he was selling. I went to buy it as soon as I saw the post that it was now available.
When you found him on Instagram, was it a chance discovery?
-A couple of years ago, I started experimenting with Instagram, posting only my art and following only artists. Then, the algorithm would suggest content that users might be interested in. That’s when I found his work and fell in love with it.
What do you like about him and his work?
– First of all, the quality is high. His technique is so beautiful that even when I had the piece in my hands, I couldn’t figure out how it was created. That’s the most important thing, and then there’s his humor. For example, there are many farting people, sex-related jokes, and even sculptures with funny motifs. But there is also diversity, like the one I bought, or the gentle and sweet one of a man playing the piano.
Also, he is one of the most prolific artists I follow. He’s also the most prolific of the artists I follow, because he’s uploading his works every day, and they’re all complete works.
It’s true that he has more than 60 works already on our platform. But he’s actually a late bloomer, he started art only recently, a few years ago, not when he was young.
– I don’t know why, but I had a sneaking suspicion that he was a late bloomer. But there is so much passion in his work, and I think it’s wonderful.
The quality of the art, the humor, and the passion are appealing.
– Yes, especially the balance between humor and art is important to me. We don’t come across it very often, so discovering a work that combines both is a great moment. For many people, there is a strong impression that art is stuffy and serious, and so are the artists, but that’s not true.
I went to an exhibition of Eva Hesse’s work with a friend at the Tate, and when we were looking at the drawings, I couldn’t stop laughing. The other visitors were all smug and high-faced, but it was a very funny drawing.
I think most artworks are filled with the artist’s emotions during the creation process, including his own, and he doesn’t really care about how it will sell or impress others. That’s why I like the humor or lightness in art. Art doesn’t have to be super-serious all the time, does it?
Yes, I totally agree with you.
– I think there is a similarity with cooking. It should be fun to cook and to eat. Just before the Corona disaster, I went to a 4-star Michelin vegan restaurant in Milan, and I think that was my experience. To be honest, the food was just okay, and I know better places in New York.
But hey, the experience there was so much fun that it was worth the money. Again, we were laughing ourselves silly the whole dinner. I was just talking to my friend who was there, and she said, “That was the funniest dinner ever! I said. I think experience is everything in art as well.
That aspect is also important. I think it’s great to be able to have fun and experience things like that through art.
– Also, as an artist, I’m not really interested in artists who pursue perfection. There are a lot of people like this in art schools, but they can only reproduce what is already there, so they fail a lot. In the end, it’s just a well-done technical work, and I’m not really attracted to it. That’s why I like his (Nobuo Ishii’s) work so much, because of its humor.
You have a lot of artwork. Why do you buy artwork? For example, to support the artist?
– That’s one of the reasons I’ve been buying a lot of art lately. Because it’s been a strange time with all the things going on in the world, and many artists are doing fundraisers to support other artists, so I bought some of that.
Also, in the US, there are artists who sell their work to donate the proceeds to a designated organization. I was planning to donate to that organization anyway, so I thought it would be nice if I could donate to them while buying their works, so I bought some more.
But the biggest reason, as I said before, I buy art because it’s fun and it makes me happy.
By the way, a few months before the purchase, I saw on Instagram that Ishii was in the hospital. I was surprised and thought, “He might be dying! I was surprised. So when he started selling, I thought, “Don’t be sarcastic, I’ll buy something while I can. I thought he might need money for surgery or something.
That’s how you came to know about our platform. How was your shopping experience?
– It was very easy. I’m also a user experience designer, so I’m strict about this. Sometimes gallery and portfolio websites are terrible, because it’s hard to scroll through and see the details of your work. But here you can see everything in English, and it was easy and smooth, so I’m very happy. You go up, you go down, you look at it a few times, and then you’re like, “Okay, I’ll take this one. Especially when I saw that it was “scheduled to be delivered in 3 days,” I thought it was a joke, but then it really arrived in 3 days. This is really amazing, unbelievably fast!
Thank you very much. Yes, we try to be as fast as possible.
– No, no, no, this is amazing. I didn’t think I could do such a fast delivery halfway around the world.
Now, you bought one of Ishii’s works. Why did you choose this one out of his many works?
-Well, it’s a sensory thing, so it’s hard to explain. It’s hard to explain. I like the way it looks, and the man eating the stars is wonderful. But as I mentioned earlier, I prefer his other, wilder works. There were no such works available at the time, so that was one reason, but I knew intuitively which ones I wanted.
Is your reason for buying art more about feeling rather than thinking?
– Well, I would say that for me, buying art is not an intellectual activity. It’s more like I really like it and I want to keep it, that’s all.
As an artist and a collector, do you have any hints or tips that you would like to share with newcomers to art buying?
– Believe in what you like. On a wine tour I once went on, I asked, “Which one is the perfect bottle? He replied, “That’s the most important thing, and you shouldn’t buy it just because you heard you should or because someone says so. Some people buy art as an investment, and that’s fine, but if your main goal is to hang it in your house, it has to be something you like. The best thing to do is to trust your instincts. There should be something that resonates with you, that’s all.
Do you search via Instagram or the Internet?
– I look at Instagram, if anything, to feel happy when I see artists I like. It’s one way to get through the day.
Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, you can buy new works every day. In the past, it would have been a process of getting to know the artist, visiting the studio, and looking through the work. But now, it’s incredibly convenient to be able to find and purchase original works at a range of prices from the lowest to the highest. And furthermore, it’s great to be able to buy something knowing that it will help the artist. I would love to see people get original art instead of concert posters on their walls.
Do you have any criteria for your decision to buy or follow? – I judge my favorite artists based on whether or not their work is within my budget. Sometimes I look for works by artists who have excelled in a certain technique at the time, just to study them.
Diversity is also important to me, so I also follow museums. They range from the famous, to the promising, to the crazy people. There is one I recently started following who paints the world in lockdown. When I asked him a few months ago how many works he had, he said he already drew about 200, more than one a day. It’s an amazing body of work, and I’m hoping this will turn into a book. This man has influenced me a lot. Every day he continues to produce quality art of different events in the world.
Art is my source of inspiration, so now that I can’t go to museums, my house is like a museum instead.
Yes, I think that’s wonderful. One last question. Is there anything you would like to tell the artist, Ishii?
– Thank you very much, I love your work, he said. I feel strange because I feel as if I know him, but I don’t really know him.