How to Get Past the Poster Stage

Does your approach to wall decor skew more "dorm room" than you'd care to admit? If you answered yes -- good news, we've got your shortcut to sophistication. The secret? Real art. Sure, we know that making the transition between poster chic and grown-up art isn't that simple. So we created this cheat sheet to help you acquire great pieces without draining your savings.

Let yourself guided by the art you love. Forget about "good" and "bad." Instead, listen to your instincts and go for pieces that inspire you. Great art should move you and challenge the way you think.

Open your eyes. Experiencing art first-hand is the best way to become informed Check out your local museums for interesting selections and visit as many galleries as you can. Make a date for a weekend art crawl with your sweetie. You might even want to plan a short vacation and hit art fairs like Miami Beach Art Basel in December or the New York Armory Art Week in March -- both great places to see amazing art (along with fascinating people).

Read up! Whenever possible, we like to learn what the pros know (think prominent contemporary art collectors). Here are a few of our favorite books on the subject:

- The Art of Buying Art: An Insider's Guide to Collecting Contemporary Art by Paige West

- Great Collectors of our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 by James Stourton

- The Intrepid Art Collector by Lisa Hunter

- Collecting Contemporary by Adam Lindemann

Browse the best of contemporary art online. The MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Getty Center for the Arts have some of the best art collections in the world, and the fact that they're online means you can wise up over your morning coffee.

Join in. Connecting with your local art community is easier than you think. By becoming a member and signing up for classes at a nearby museum, you'll learn from experts and connect with like-minded art enthusiasts. Curators often give lectures on collecting art, and some museums organize artist studio visits. You can also friend your favorite museums on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to stay up-to-date on their events.

Meet the artist (virtually). No time for in-person studio visits or art classes? You can watch video interviews of today's top artists in the comfort of your home with ArtBabble and

Start with prints: Photography and fine-art prints are great for beginning collectors who want works by modern and contemporary masters -- but can't neccesarily stomach the pricetags. Limited fine-art editions typically range from $500 to $50,000 and can increase in value over time. Visit the International Fine Print Dealers Association to find a local fine print dealer and a calendar of events, or look for print auctions at Christies and Sotheby's. If $500 is still too steep, turn online for affordable yet limited-edition works. Shopping sites like, or offer amazing, affordable selections.

Photo courtesy of

Laurence Lafforgue is the founder of ArtWeLove, a site dedicated to creating affordable yet exclusive museum-quality art editions with leading contemporary artists. Editions are limited, and priced between $50 to $600.