Yes, You Can Be an Art Collector
You have always been inspired by art. You visit art museums and appreciate the art on the walls of your friend's houses, but have never thought of yourself as someone who could collect art. Maybe you think art collectors have to be rich, hoity-toity, of high society, and all that. Maybe you haven't bought art because you don't own a tuxedo or gown and have been afraid to go to an auction house where you might swat at a fly and accidentally buy a Picasso for $150,000.
The reality is that most art is bought in non-stuffy galleries and directly from artists in their studios or online. Most galleries are run by nice people who do not treat others with contempt. Most galleries are run by people who love to talk about art and will gladly help you figure out how to start collecting art - that's their business.
Artists are always happy when someone is interested in purchasing their art, especially if someone is interested in possibly buying a few pieces over the years. Some artists are introverts and you might have to initiate the conversation. But most artists are happy to start a relationship where you are learning about them and their work. I have developed some nice long-term relationships with people collecting my work.
You probably already "collect" things to display in your home. These might be chachkas or family photos that already are on your walls and shelves. Collecting art is simply intentionally purchasing and displaying art instead of other items. This does not take any additional budget than what you already spend. It is simply re-prioritizing how you spend.
Displaying art in your home functions in two ways. First, it is an expression of your personality. Art is subjective and what you display will represent those ideas and images that you resonate with personally. They may represent your faith in something, give you a sense of peace or remind you of a time in your life you want to remember. Secondly, it also is an expression of the outside world. It is made by someone else, tied to a genre of art that has a history and, perhaps, even directly comments on the wider world.
When I was younger, I was happy to have posters and reproductions of art on my walls. At a certain point in time, I discovered that original art is an object with value and reproductions didn't convey as much personal value. As time has gone on my ideas about life and expressing it in my living space has matured. I still have older artworks I have purchased, but they have been moved to the side for works that represent my current life. I am also growing in seeing the value of supporting other artists and the greater creative community. My surroundings are maturing as I mature.
I still don't own a tuxedo, do not have a budget for purchasing art, or have a wing in a museum with my name on it. Yet my house is filled with other people's art (and some of my own). What I do have are the two most important things you need to collect: I am inspired by art, and I believe that I can fill my world with what inspires me. If you are inspired by art and believe you should fill your world with what inspires you, you can collect art, too.