You Can Do It! Tips From 4 Artists.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Washington is a hive of artists whose work sells at reasonable prices. We talked to four professionals about their art and your money. They all agree that you can build a collection on a budget, but that you need time, patience, the discipline to save some cash and a solid, informed idea of what you want.

-- Dan Zak

Joseph Craig English

Silk-screen printer, 61, Washington Grove

Price range:$50 to $500.

Catch his work at: Any of the 15 regional shows he does every year, and in private and public spaces. (He installed a mural at the National Education Association at 16th and M streets NW and seven sculptures at Rockville Pike and Randolph Road in Rockville.) Also see http://

On getting personal as a first step:"Go directly to the artist, tell them you're just getting started and you really love their work, and get some insight into the artist's thought process. Learn about what you're buying. Most artists are delighted to show their studios off. When you get some insight into who the artist is, it makes collecting a whole lot more fun."

On bargaining:"If someone says, 'What's your best price on this?' I just turn around and walk away. If someone comes and introduces themselves to me, they tell me they love my work, they have limited funds -- if I can work with them, I will."

On buying gradually:"What always tickles me is people who come and say, 'We're starting an art collection, and we want to buy all this art.' Well, don't do that. You're 25 years old; you just got married. Start going to art shows and buy one piece of art a year. Buy the nicest piece of art you can afford."

Gretchen Schermerhorn

Printmaker and papermaker, 33, Silver Spring

Price range:$100 to $300.

Catch her work at: Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (8230 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-608-9101,

Other job: Director of the paper mill and artistic collaborations at the Pyramid Atlantic.

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