Is collecting art only for the rich?

Sonia Patwardhan
3 min readSep 8, 2023


Many art enthusiasts assume that starting a collection of their own is simply a dream. After all, the art on display in museums is known to be extremely valuable, and there are frequent headlines about paintings selling at auction for astronomical prices. But the fact is that it’s possible to find quality art from credentialed artists at a reasonable price.

As a lifelong art lover and now a gallerist, I am passionate about challenging the notion that owning fine art is an unattainable luxury. I firmly believe art can and should be enjoyed by everyone! Artwork brings joy into our homes and has a unique ability to connect us to our cultural roots; it’s an extension of who we are as individuals and contributes to our overall wellbeing.

So how does one start an art collection on a budget? Here are a few tips on navigating the art market and buying affordable art:

Learn more about art.

The process begins with getting more exposure to art, which can be as simple as visiting local museums, galleries, art fairs and open studios. Some fairs, like the Affordable Art Fair, are also geared towards collectors seeking attractive price points. I have personally found docent-led tours of exhibitions, artist talks and hands-on workshops especially educational.

Check out emerging contemporary artists.

Explore original paintings by emerging artists, as price points are significantly lower early on in an artist’s career. Look for galleries which offer a large variety of artists across a broad price range.

Consider smaller paintings by established artists.

Look for smaller paintings by established artists. These will be more affordable than their larger canvases.

Invest in serigraphs (fine art prints) by the Masters.

Signed, limited edition prints by leading Indian modern artists, such as M.F. Husain and S.H. Raza, have great investment value but at significantly lower price points than originals. An original painting by Raza recently sold at Christie’s Auction House for $3 million, for example, but some of Raza’s serigraphs can be purchased for $1,200.

Support traditional art.

There is a rich history of fine art and craft in India, and many of these art forms are sadly endangered today. Kalamkari, Madhubani (Mithila) paintings, and other forms of folk art, even by National Award winning artists, can be acquired for a reasonable price.

Whether decorating a home or building a collection of emerging contemporary art, knowing about the artist’s history and journey, as well as the story behind the paintings, always makes the process more meaningful. Collectors should fall in love with a piece before deciding to buy.

As the curator of Palo Alto-based gallery Laasya Art, one of my biggest goals is to make collecting art more accessible. I consciously offer original contemporary paintings at multiple price points, and I always remind my clients that it is indeed possible to slowly build a collection of art without breaking the bank.

Sonia Nayyar Patwardhan



Sonia Patwardhan

Curator, founder & entrepreneur of Laasya Art Gallery in Palo Alto, California. Passionate about raising awareness of contemporary and traditional Indian art.