While prints are a common entry point into the art market, there may come a day when a budding collector yearns for a unique artwork, rather than an edition. Works on paper, specifically drawings, can be a fruitful place to start: a way to access an artist’s intimate process without breaking the bank. While some artists, like Robert Longo or Kara Walker, make drawing a centerpiece of their practice, for many the medium is one tool among many.
Drawings can be sketches or studies pointed toward fuller paintings or sculptures; they can be whimsical diversions, quick experiments, or fully fleshed-out artworks in their own right. They “can provide a very different creative outlet to the artist’s primary practice,” said Sueyun Locks of Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery, “and thus can offer us a more complete story about an artist’s oeuvre.”
They may never have the commanding wall power of a massive Abstract Expressionist canvas, but that’s part of the point. Drawings have a quieter energy, one that welcomes deep, close-up contemplation. And unlike larger works—which, in many cases, may have been completed with the aid of studio assistants—a drawing is one of the easiest ways to commune directly with the hand of the artist, hunched over her desk or drafting table. Here are a few key tips for anyone looking to start collecting this singular medium.
“In determining whether a work on paper can or can’t be a drawing, what carries through is a question of the line,” said Drawing Center assistant curator Rosario Güiraldes. “To me, the most compelling definition of drawing has to do with a way of conveying and translating thoughts. It’s a medium that captures the movement of the mind.” That means drawings are often not as slick or polished as paintings might be—but a would-be collector should acknowledge that, and celebrate what drawing does best...................