Project executive summary

Name: Adrienne Cameron, s3996963

Title: So, you want to be a collector?

Outcome: Pamphlet

Collector pamphlet



This project explores the parameters of creating a valuable contemporary fine art collection over a lifetime. Extensive academic research has found that in-person collecting is subject to observance of the social and business mores of the culturally-networked art worlds of New York and London. Having wealth is not a pre-requisite to enter this marketplace, but recognition as having a discerning eye is essential for a buyer. Cultural recognition by one’s socially significant peers bestows the title of collector and opens access to artists, artworks, and affiliations with cultural organisations. Being known and respected in this contemporary art world brings both economic value and status to the collector and ‘his’ collection. In comparison, building a collection online avoids this need for recognition but loses value. The buyer can live globally and can trade with lower transaction costs. The downside is the buyer cannot inspect works and lacks access to additional information.

Project summary and findings:

This project is a response to a client enquiry to a commercial fine art gallery in Fitzroy. Desktop research of extensive academic literature and the art media informed the findings:

  • Wealth is not a prerequisite of acceptance or access to artworks, but recognition of cultural expertise by the sector is.
  • Collectors are keen to convey key moments in their stories to the contemporary art world to shape their cultural reputations and public identities.
  • Prestigious objects confer status on their owners, but without recognition of their ‘proper appreciation and consumption’, owners cannot draw that status down fully.
  • Collecting contemporary art creates and strengthens social networks of a global elite.
  • Being recognised in this ecosystem as a discerning collector enhances personal standing and consequently the value of your collection.
  • Flipping artworks – buying and selling quickly for profit – is unacceptable to the market. Flipping is said to distort the market.
  • Online purchasing is a way to build knowledge and art appreciation – building cultural competence – and is a way into the market.

Keywords: collector, collecting, contemporary, artworks, status

Biography:  I am a sculptor and mixed-media artist who grew up in the arid Victorian Mallee – a land of heat, large skies and seemingly endless plains. I studied European Cultural History in both Australia and UK, then completed my MFA in UK in 2017. I will complete my Master of Arts Management at RMIT in early 2024. My practice explores how we as humans live and function together – including issues that can often test social coherence. I am interested also in the politics and poetics of spaces, especially in urban areas with the rise in both populist politics and individuals’ social isolation experienced in many societies. Visit and leave me a message.

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Adrienne Cameron
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