It really doesn't take tons of money or a vast knowledge of art history to start an art collection for yourself, and there's no reason to believe that you can't build a wonderful collection by simply making a few smart buys from artists you like to follow. In the end, building a small but smart collection is a worthwhile venture into small scale art collecting...and here's a few things to keep in mind:
#1: Never let anyone tell you that you don't know art.
Artists and high end collectors LOVE to pal about in fancy clique groups where they can keep the unwashed masses at arms' length. One of thee ways they exclude people is to simply tell them that they don't know anything about art. These same people buy works that are steeped in the ugliness of the present Post Modern movement that absolutely abhors anything that is beautiful. Rest assured you are being a rebel if you buy beautiful work to display in our home and you'll sleep better knowing that these clique groups of twats are out there looking quite ridiculous.
#2: Don't buy with the idea that it will increase in value.
Art is a hard way to invest, very hard and really expensive...and since what everyone likes is often so different, going into art collecting for enjoyment is a far better investment then trying to do it for the purpose of making money at some later date. Basically, you have to really know what you're doing to use art for investment purposes (and then, maybe you need to do some money laundering, which explains a lot of things in the art world) and let's face it: most of us don't have that kind of time, or for that matter are looking to wash some cash.
Start your art collection for the purpose of enhancing your lifestyle and you will do yourself a huge favor in both spending far less money and enjoying it more without the worry and that's what it should really do for you...give you another level of enjoyment and enhance your home or business.
#3: Start with smaller, original works.
It's cheaper to start with small pieces before you begin buying bigger ones and it can be quite fashionable for the walls in your home to have a gallery wall where all of the pieces are on display at once. This was common in all the great homes of Europe and it's never gone out of style -- it looks so classy. Larger works of art will command quite a bit of attention and they typically like walls all to themselves (the selfish brutes) but small well defined collections play very well with each other and can really enhance a room. Never underestimate the power of small things working together.
#4 Follow artists whose work moves you.
You might not be able to afford to buy from some of these artists, but you will often see their influence in works that you see from emerging artists. This will expand your knowledge of what you like and when you are really ready to buy that first piece, you can do it with a greater level of confidence.
#5: Buying from lesser known, emerging artists.
There's a lot of great art out there - a lot. Staying away from the bigger names and delving into the emerging art world is a great way to start collecting. You are also helping those artists establish their careers and they will always remember you for it.
In the end, the real reason for small scale collecting is your personal enjoyment, and there's nothing like original works of art adorning your home. It is all about what you like and there should be no apologies on your part for what moves you personally.