Pro Tips for Starting Your American Indian Art Collection
For even seasoned collectors, the prospect of acquiring authentic Native American art can be an intimidating pursuit. The enterprising collector must be at once an art aficionado as well as a discerning detective, weeding out fraud and deception to ensure authenticity. Add to that the bevy of different types of creative works, from intricately woven rugs for which Navajo artisans are famous, to the painstakingly chiseled details of a sculpture or the magnificence of a colorful acrylic on canvas.
Fortunately in New Mexico we pride ourselves on our unrivaled access to culture and the arts, and a talent pool of exceptional artists second to none, including Pueblo and Native American artisans. We are proud to present many of the works of these talented individuals, and pleased to share a few tips we have learned over the years as it relates to collecting:
Determine Your Purpose and Your Niche
As a beginning collector, determine your motivation and primary interests for collecting American Indian Art. Do you want to collect pieces that have sentimental meaning to you, and that you intend to display in your home as décor, or are you looking to acquire investment pieces for which you intend to maximize worth and value? Do you love historic works or a more modern aesthetic? Our IPCC online collector’s guide breaks down the various types of Native American art for your perusal. Check it out to hone in on your specific interests: Authentic Native Art – Indian Pueblo Store
Research and Know the Basics
As we alluded, there are thousands upon thousands of different types of art within the Native American creative realm, and while it is challenging to be an expert (that may come in time), know the basics, so you can be a well-informed buyer when the time comes. We offer books which may be helpful, including an overview on the 19 Pueblos and Pueblo culture, as well as more in-depth guides to different genres of art:
Determine Your Budget and Become Familiar with Market Value
Get a sense of your budget as well as the market value of different types of jewelry and art. “If a customer is looking for turquoise jewelry, we always either provide or suggest that they get a brief education in turquoise. Each mine produces different hues and variations,” shared Alejandria Rodriguez from the IPCC Indian Pueblo Store. “Most people are surprised to know that turquoise is graded much like diamonds are graded and given a carat weight. With this understanding a customer can be better prepared to find the price range and grade they are comfortable purchasing.” To learn more about turquoise, we suggest this helpful guide, Turquoise Unearthed.
Buyer beware! The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 mandates that art that is represented as “Native American” or “Indian” must be produced by a member of a State or Federally-recognized Tribe or by a certified Indian artisan. Falsely representing one’s work otherwise is a violation of the law. With this in mind, buy from a reputable broker, and ensure documentation of the authenticity of the artwork. For more tips to ensure authenticity, the Federal Trade Commission offers helpful information. Buying American Indian Arts and Crafts | FTC Consumer Information
Consider purchasing insurance for your more valuable works of art. Protect your investments, particularly those with a high-ticket price tag, which will likely continue to appreciate, by acquiring insurance to cover your growing collection. Experts in the industry suggest insuring for the value of replacement, and not what you originally paid, so make a plan for regular appraisals every few years.
Build Your Social Network
Network with other collectors and utilize social media groups to identify opportunities and grow your knowledge. From bird watching to beanie baby collecting, today there is a social media group for every undertaking. Find the ones that are most similar to your interests and join a group or two. But like anything else, use caution when engaging in online transactions
Ultimately, many collectors let their passion for particular types of art or their love of particular artists drive their collection choices. No matter if you are a collector or the average consumer or observer, art which ignites emotion has a value to the viewer which is hard to measure, and Pueblo and Native American artists are known for their uncanny ability to spark inspiration through their works. Whatever your motivation, we hope to help you navigate your journey. At the Indian Pueblo Store, we like to say we are your trusted connection to Native American Art. For more informative Native American Art information, subscribe to our newsletter.
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