How Art World Insiders Started Their Must-See Collections

Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Sure, we've spent our days gushing over $400 couches at Ikea and rummaging through thrift stores for most of our bedroom furniture, but it's probably time to give up all that. The key to an adult apartment? Some good, quality art. And, no, we're not talking about framing the movie posters we taped on our dorm's cinderblock walls.
Ahead, we've caught up with some of the art world's most talked-about collectors to find out how the insiders amass their works. Click through for the goods!
ArtStar, a curated selection of quality artwork, is basically like art collecting 101 for grown-up apartments. Founded in 2011 by Chrissy Crawford, ArtStar aims to bring you a sophisticated selection of photographs, illustrations, & paintings for when you're finally ready to transition out of your movie poster phase.
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Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Susi Kenna, the assistant director of social media at FITZ & CO, is responsible for directing new digital initiatives clients like Art Basel (maybe you've heard of it?) and The Art Dealers Association of America. She also has a serious eye for design.
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Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Barbara Kruger, Stay and Go, 2007, C-print mounted on aluminum, edition #10/10, diptych, each panel: 71 5/8 x 48 inches (182 x 122 cm).
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Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
What are your general philosophies/fun facts on collecting?
"Don't let the art world intimidate you. If you have a desire to get involved start by discovering your local art community. Every city has its own set of art enthusiasts, gallery districts, museum groups, and ways of finding out what's happening. In time you'll find that the more you participate, the better you'll be able to navigate the art world 'at home' and 'at large.'

"Take your time. Developing your taste for art (usually) doesn't happen overnight, and largely depends on trusting your instinct. If you haven't yet found what you love, take the time to visit galleries, museums, auction houses, art fairs, and browse sites like Artsy, Paddle8, ArtStar, and so forth. Visit gallery openings, panel discussions, and the like for the chance to hear fresh points of view, along with the opportunity to meet artists and curators amongst others in the art world. Sharpening your eye and opening your mind will build the strong foundation needed to define your personal art preferences.

"Ask the right questions (based on your reasons for buying). Whether you're planning your first purchase or your 50th, it's always important to ask the right questions about the work, depending on what's important to you. As someone that cares deeply about the story behind the work and making a personal connection with the artist, I'll ask (when buying from a gallery) to learn more, and if there's a chance to meet them. If purchasing directly from an artist, I'll ask to do a studio visit, and spend the time to better understand their process, personality and passion for art making."

Left: Amanda Sciullo, Black Sea Scum, 2004, 65x79 inches; Right: Man Bartlett, #24hClerk, 2011, 23x30 inches.
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Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Amanda Sciullo, Slow Rain Like Jellyfish, 2005, 64 x 80 inches (detail); Ultra Violet, Rainbow, 2006, edition 1/7, Neon, 16 x 30 inches; Carlos Charlie Perez, Untitled from ‘Florida Georgia Charlie’, 2007, Archival inkjet print, edition 1/5, 40" x 50" (framed).
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Photo: Tyler Joe/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Top: Various works by Sam Schonzeit from the Postcard Subscription Service, 2012-2014; Bottom: Various works by Andrea Mary Marshall, Carlos Charlie Perez, Jonathan Boswell, and Cindy Sherman.
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Photo: Catalina Kulczar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
The work of Shantell Martin is a meditation of lines — a language of characters, creatures and messages that invite her viewers to share a role in her creative process. Part autobiographical, and part dreamlike whimsy, Martin has created her own world that bridges fine art, commercial, and the everyday experience of conversations, objects, and places.



Using her simple trademark — black ink and white surfaces, Martin’s illustrations transform everything from walls, found objects, ceramics, luxury goods, sneakers, and even faces into a visual narrative.
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Photo: Catalina Kulczar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Martin has been featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and her hand-illustrated bedroom walls graced the cover of the New York Times home section in May 2012. Her work has appeared in Creative Review Magazine, and she is still honored to have been named French Glamour’s New York’s “coolest it girl” in 2011. Her latest fashion collaboration with fashion brand Suno was featured in Vogue in August 2013.
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Photo: Paul Barbera/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Martin’s recent art commissions included an exterior installation on the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto in 2013 and a custom installation for Miami Art Week’s Pulse in 2012. She regularly creates live digital drawings at conferences, musical performances, and museums including the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA.
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Photo: Trevor Tondro/Courtesy of ArtStar.
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Photo: Trevor Tondro/Courtesy of ArtStar.
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Photo: James Pakola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Sally Morgan and Jay Lehman founded Morgan Lehman Gallery in 2002, when they converted an 18th century farmhouse in Litchfield County, Connecticut into an exhibition space. In 2005, the gallery opened a second space on 10th Avenue. In 2010, the gallery expanded again to a 2000-square-foot space in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district on West 22nd Street.
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Photo: James Pakola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"We buy what we love — but we often will ruminate on a work or an artist for years. We loved David Rathman's work for 10 years after we first saw it at Clementine, and still love it so much we have started to represent him! We also saw Kim McCarty's work years ago and were totally rocked by it. And, lo and behold — we are showing Kim's work as well."

Artwork: Kim McCarty, Cordy Ryman, David S. Allee.      
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Photo: James Pakola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"The first thing we bought together was in 2001, a William Kentridge eight-foot-tall linocut 'telephone lady.' I wanted one of the small etchings and Jay said no, go as big as you can afford, so we scraped together $5,000 & went big. It has been holding court in our house ever since (it takes up an entire wall). The most recent thing we acquired was a Cordy Ryman sculputure from DCKT (we have loved his work since we first saw it in 2004)."

Artwork: Aaron Wexler, Sol Lewitt, Paul Villinski.
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Photo: James Pakola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
*To get a really good overview of contemporary art, the art fairs (love 'em or hate 'em) are very efficient — I would suggest going to The Armory and VOLTA in March and Frieze and NADA in May. If you have the time, of course, Miami in December is a place to see so much work. It's a huge education, but can be very overwhelming, too. Benefit auctions (the Drawing Center for example) are also a great place to see a range of work thats been curatorially vetted and that can also be an 'affordable' place to begin collecting. Another place one can enter the world of collecting art is prints. You can visit the IFPDA Fair or even look at and purchase works online at sites like Exhibition A, 20x200, and ArtStar."
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Photo: James Pakola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Who's an artist whose work is on your wish lists?
Jay: "Analia Sabon, Samantha Bittman, Katy Grannan, Sol Lewitt (gouache)."

Sally: "A Claes Oldenburg (sketch for monumental sculpture), a Wayne Thiebaud (a pie could be VERY tiny!), and Charles Burchfield."

  Who's an artist to watch?
"It's somewhat self-promotional, but Kim McCarty, Frohawk Two Feathers, and David Rathman."

Artwork: Paul Wackers.
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Photo: GarBaby's Photos/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Chrissy Crawford was working as a full-time art advisor and independent curator when she came up with the idea to start LittleCollector. Clients and friends frequently asked her to find art for their children's rooms — something that was special and unique, yet affordable. Surprised by how difficult this was to find, Chrissy began thinking about ways to engage children with contemporary art from a young age. It was at this point that LittleCollector was born! Chrissy is also the Founder of ArtStar and lives in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood with her Dachshund, Brian.

Artwork, left to right: Lisa Levy, from the Thoughts in My Head Series on ArtStar; Julie Heffernan, Study Portrait Holding the World from LittleCollector.
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Photo: GarBaby's Photos/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"I almost exclusively collect work by female artists. It’s not something I do on purpose, but I am naturally attracted to work by women. I also love photography, works on paper, and soft sculptures like my Murakami Flower Cushion and Kusama Pumpkin because I cannot afford the original paintings by these artists and it’s a fun way to have a piece of their work at an affordable price. I love pop art, especially Japanese. Not shown is work by FriendsWithYou, Julie Heffernan, and Lori Feld."

ArtWork: Ostsee 2 by Markus Burke for ArtStar, Vague Magazine by Andrea Mary Marshall, Pumpkin Soft Sculpture by Yayoi Kusama at LittleCollector.
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Photo: GarBaby's Photos/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Left to right, top to bottom: A Red Hood by Ai Shinohara, Sid Vicious by Jim Jocoy, Seashell by Charlie Engman, Pricsilla de Petite Chien by Mickalene Thomas.
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Photo: GarBaby's Photos/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Top to Bottom: Laura Ball, Priscilla de Petit Chien Deux :) by Mickalene Thomas for LittleCollector.
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Photo: GarBaby's Photos/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Walking Petit Four by Laurie Simmons.
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Photo: Michael Beauplet/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Dave Harper is the Director of Special Projects for online auction house Paddle8. Previously, he was the Curator of Visual Art at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 2006-2013, Associate Visiting Curator at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, and serves on the board of the Shandaken Project and the advisory board for NURTUREart. He has curated shows nationally and internationally at toomer labzda gallery, STADIUM, Storefront Bushwick, and curated_by in Vienna among others and was the first curatorial fellow for the noted blog, Art F City. He lives in Brooklyn with his photographer partner Ryan James MacFarland, and Franklin, a beagle. MacFarland's recent exhibition, Secret Wisdom, took place at Uprise Art's UA Outpost in Chelsea. Michael Beauplet in front of a painting by José Parlá.
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Photo: Ryan James MacFarland/Courtesy of ArtStar.
What are your general philosophies/fun facts on collecting?
Probably 70% of what is hanging on the walls was acquired through benefit auctions or sales for local non-profits including Printed Matter, the Shandaken Project, NURTUREart and Triple Canopy, for example. Benefit auctions are a great way for young collectors on a budget to get high-quality works while helping to support the organizations they care about. At Paddle8, we've held more than 250 benefit auctions worldwide and I've found that this is a great way to discover great work and new artists.

The rest of the artworks have come from some of our favorite galleries, such as Klaus von Nichtssagend or Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, both on the Lower East Side, or as gifts from friends. Some artists in our collection to watch would be the incredibly talented Ruby Sky Stiler, Letha Wilson, Luke Stettner — who has a wonderful show currently at the Kitchen — and Florian and Michael Quistrebert, who were recently nominated for the 2014 Prix Marcel Duchamp. We focus a lot on photographs, editions — we have a few from a wonderful New York-based publisher Forth Estate — and work on paper because they tend to be smaller in size, which great for a New York apartment with limited wall space. Most importantly, we collect things we love and want to live with every day."

Artwork: Oysters (2005/2012) by Roe Ethridge, Bloom (2011) by Fred Tomaselli, Three vintage 4x5 prints (undated) by Bob Mizer, Untitled Gradient Test (2013) by Florian and Michael Quistrebert, Untitled (2013) by Ruby Sky Stiler, Dawn of Awakening (2010) by Florian and Michael Quistrebert, Untitled (One Day This Kid...) (1990/2012) by David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (2012) by Ruby Sky Stiler, Untitled (2008) by Steven Irwin, Black Square (2010) by Luke Stettner, Light Industry (2010-11) by R.H. Quaytman, Untitled (PDTF #2) (2010) by Devin Rutz, Untitled (2011) by Nazafarin Lofti, Clam Appeal (2009) by Eddie Martinez, Where All Harmonies Are Tuned (2011) by Marcel Dzama, Nocturne (2008) by Will Yackulic, Tough Shit (2012) by Scott Hug, Pucker Up (Blue) (2010) by Ryan Kitson, Untitled (2011) by Ryan Kitson (on shelf), White Rabbit, diptych (2008) by Ryan James MacFarland (on floor).
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Photo: Ryan James MacFarland/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Eroded Camera (2012) by Daniel Arsham, Katahdin (2012) by Margaret Lee,  Untitled (2010) by Wes Lang, Richard Prince/The Melvins (2011) by Adam McEwen.
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Photo: Ryan James MacFarland/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: 3/4/12 (2012) by David Schoerner, Color and Temperature (2012) by Sam Falls, Daymoon V (2011) by Ryan James MacFarland, Moon Drop (Flaming Gorge) (2010) by Letha Wilson, Found Image, Light Leak (Grand Tetons) (2010) by Letha Wilson, 1/4 Twenty II (2013) by Joe Kay, collage study (2013) by Jim Gaylord.
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Photo: Ryan James MacFarland/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: untitled (2013) by Katherine Bernhardt, Sarah Crowner, TM Davy, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, David Kennedy Cutler, Michael Mahalchick, Eddie Martinez, Yuri Masnyj, Sam Moyer, Ian Pedigo, Kate Shepherd, B. Wurtz.
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Photo: Uprise Art/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Tze Chun lives in NYC and is the founder of Uprise Art, an online gallery that makes collecting original art easier and more affordable. The Uprise Art team helps you find the perfect art for your home or office, and all artwork is available to purchase over time through monthly installments. An artist and entrepreneur, Tze graduated from Columbia University and has been featured everywhere from Forbes.com to Martha Stewart.

Artwork: No Endings by Erin Lynn Welsh.
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Photo: Uprise Art/Courtesy of ArtStar.
What are your general philosophies/fun facts on collecting?
"Keep an open mind. Cast the net wide in the beginning and you might be surprised with what you end up loving. You wouldn't want to let a stranger into your home. In the same way, you want to find art you want to live with and that you look forward to seeing every day. Look for art that will stand the test of time (and your changing tastes).

Anthony Cudahy's Lost paintings are based on photographs from his parents' wedding. He doesn't know any of the people in the photographs and to him they are haunting, but harmless, lost memories."

Artwork: Lost (1) by Anthony Cudahy.
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Photo: Uprise Art/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"One of my favorite films is Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love, which takes place in 1960s Hong Kong. Although Dolly Faibyshev's Chandelier Staircase was shot in Palm Springs, I always imagine the actress Maggie Cheung is about to appear from the top of the stairs in a glamorous Chinese dress."

Artwork: Chandelier Staircase by Dolly Faibyshev.
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Photo: Uprise Art/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"My fiance and I have a tradition of getting oysters at Mermaid Oyster Bar on New Years Eve, so I couldn't resist when I saw Rifle Paper Co.'s The World is Your Oyster print."

Artwork: The World is Your Oyster by Rifle Paper Company.
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Photo: Uprise Art/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"When Chanterelle restaurant in Lower Manhattan closed after 30 years of being a haven for artists, they sold the limited edition menu covers that had been lovingly created by artists such as Alex Katz, Cy Twombly, Nan Goldin, Ellsworth Kelly, and Cindy Sherman. As a choreographer, I immediately fell in love with Merce Cunningham's cover, which includes his sprawling dance notation in bold red and black."

Artwork: 1984 Chanterelle Menu Cover by Merce Cunningham.
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Photo: Allegra La Viola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Allegra LaViola is a native New Yorker. She is the co-owner of Sargent's Daughters on the Lower East Side, which opened in November 2013. Allegra is an avid art collector and enjoys discovering new art and artists as well as taking advantage of NYC's great cultural opportunities to see opera, museums, and films.

Artwork: In Recline by Saira McLaren.
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Photo: Allegra La Viola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
What are your general philosophies/fun facts on collecting?
"I have no overarching theme to my collection — I just buy what I love. I tend toward colors and adore paintings and works on paper. I am very fond of outsider artists. Art fairs are a great way of honing your eye and seeing a lot of different things at once — I've bought a few pieces from fairs and it is quite thrilling! Of course I love buying from galleries I enjoy — Invisible Exports is a favorite. I try to always have work by my artists in my home — it's fun to be surrounded by your friends. Right now I have my eye on Saira McLaren, who had her first show with us in January 2014 and we will be showing at NADA New York in the Spring. She's driven, inventive, and talented — a great combination."

Artwork: untitled by Timothy Hutchings, Deer by Brian Montuori, Thomas and Tommy Addair by Hunter Barnes.
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Photo: Allegra La Viola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: portrait of Allegra by Alison Blickle, Enusvay of Binouray by Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw.
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Photo: Allegra La Viola/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Tiger by Karen Heagle, Ribbons on desk are from the New Museum show A Day Like Any Other by Rivane Neuenschwander.
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Photo: Sean Fadar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Helen Toomer is the Director of PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, and will steward the evolution of the leading satellite fair as it approaches its 10th year. As the founder of a former gallery in Manhattan, she has extensive experience in the worlds of event development, marketing, partnerships, operations, and programming in both Europe and the United States. Ms. Toomer graduated with honors from the Arts Institute of Bournemouth, England and is an adjunct professor at Fashion Institute of Technology for Art Market: Principles and Practices.

Artwork: New York is a Lot of Work by Reed Steifer (bought at the Armory Show 2011) next to a 2 dollar bill for good luck.
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Photo: Sean Fadar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"Eric and I recently moved into our new apartment in Williamsburg, so our art collections have merged! We just did the first hang and still have more work to place and I'm sure more work will be acquired, so no walls are safe! Eric likes a minimal hang and I really like creating clusters of work — so that's a continual discussion."

Artwork: Not Worth Reading by Matthew Higgs, Ceramic Monkey by Jerry Blackman.
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Photo: Sean Fadar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"We've both bought work from galleries and art fairs over the years, the majority from PULSE — Zach Storm from CONNERSMITH, Jeremy Cost from ACRIA, Jordi Bernado and Yargo Hortal from Galeria Senda and The Artist of the Month Club in 2009 from INVISIBLE EXPORTS — this is a fantastic idea and great way to enhance your collection."

Artwork from left to right: Jerry Blackman, Daniel Rosenbaum, Mia Taylor, Gordon Robin Brown, Mia Taylor, David Herbert, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Jodi Bernado.
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Photo: Sean Fadar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"We also have work from a lot of the artists I had previously shown, like Joe Brittain, Jerry Blackman, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Patrick Brennan, Blue Curry, Leah Dixon, and Anne-lise Coste, Howard Hurst, Bram Muller, Mia Taylor, Kate Steciw, and Letha Wilson. The fairs are always a great place to discover and acquire work, as with our busy lives it's difficult to visit all the galleries you want to, so this is my place to plug PULSE New York, coming up in May. I'm looking forward to my first fair as the director and seeing visitors connecting with the galleries and artists presented."

Artwork: Quasimodo by Jerry Blackman.
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Photo: Sean Fadar/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"There are so many artists I'm excited about — too many to list. However, I just fell in love with David Musgrave's graphite drawings at Luhring Augustine Gallery and Katie Bell's paintings and installation at Mixed Greens is amazing — she's one to watch! On my wish list would be a painting by Kadar Brock who's work I recently saw at Gallery Diet and I dream of living with one of David Altmejd's sculptures."

Artwork: Left wall from left to right, top to bottom: Jeremy Kost, Letha Wilson, Yargo Hortal, Zach Storm, Found piece from Dominican Republic, Bram Muller, Letha Wilson, Found piece from the Bahamans, Bottom Row: Mia Taylor, Brion Nuda Rosch; Right wall from left to right, top to bottom: Joe Brittain, Patrick Brennan, Anne-lise Coste, Wendy Mays, Bram Muller.
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Photo: Carrie Mackin/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Brooklyn resident Mickalene Thomas Mickalene is a distinguished, multidisciplinary visual artist best known for combining art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references to create striking figurative and nonfigurative paintings. Thomas introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representation. Her work stems from her long study of art history and classical genres of portraiture and landscape.

Thomas is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York, Suzanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Paris, and Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago.

Artwork: Henry Taylor.
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Photo: Carrie Mackin/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Torn by Angel Otero.
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Photo: Carrie Mackin/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Henry Taylor.
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Photo: Carrie Mackin/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: More Came by Henry Taylor.
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Photo: Geoffrey Goldberg/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Aditya Julka is the co-founder of online auction house Paddle8. A serial entrepreneur, he previously co-founded successful biotech start-ups in India and Ireland. He serves on the board of Performa, New York's art biennial, and the advisory board of Khoj, an organization dedicated to performance art in South Asia. In 2013 he and Paddle8's co-founder, Alexander Gilkes, were named to Art + Auction's Power 100.

Artwork: Vintage magazine covers.
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Photo: Geoffrey Goldberg/Courtesy of ArtStar.
What are your general philosophies/fun facts on collecting?
"As the co-founder of an online auction house that focuses on offering works at an affordable price point, I'm constantly tempted by the selection on Paddle8. But, the best way to describe my philosophy is that I tend to buy contemporary artists that I relate to in some way. I'm an engineer and a biologist by training, so the KAWS toys appeal to me for their witty representations of anatomy. Likewise, I'm drawn to contemporary Indian artists like Subodh Gupta, who combine the old with the new, like in this Three Cows print — among the first works I acquired by a major 'name brand' artist. (One of my seminal 2013 art experiences was the feast prepared by Gupta for Performa, whose board I've been a part of since 2012.)"

Artwork: Three Cows by Subodh Gupta.
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Photo: Geoffrey Goldberg/Courtesy of ArtStar.
"My home includes pieces that go beyond contemporary art — for instance, magazine covers featuring JFK and Elvis from the weeks that they died, or the framed issue of Scientific American from the 1800s. I've also collected carved wooden masks from travels in Africa and Central and Latin America.

One artist who I am following with special interest at the moment is Alex Perweiler, a member of the very hot Still House Group, based in New York. I'm particularly keen to acquire one of his match work pieces.

Benefit auctions are also a great resource to buy outstanding artists at affordable prices, all while contributing to an admirable cause. And, of course, it helps to have a girlfriend who works in the art world!"

Artwork: Bullet Hole by Nate Lowman.
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Photo: Geoffrey Goldberg/Courtesy of ArtStar.
Artwork: Traditional East African and Central American wooden masks.

Inspired to start your own collection? Visit ArtStar for a selection of contemporary, affordable art.
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