Collecting art is an emotional connection between collector and artist. At least, it is supposed to be. Sometimes, as with any passion-driven pursuit, it takes a while for an individual to understand his motivations and vision. In my case, I went through several different phases as a collector, and because of such, my tastes have evolved over the years. Still, what remains constant is that an artwork must speak to me and move me in some fundamental way—I have to love it. It’s not about what looks good in one’s home. Rather, art’s appeal is in the unique and truthful perspective on reality that it presents you with.

Since childhood, I have had a keen interest in art, architecture and design. A pursuit brought on by my father and as far back as I can recall it was our tradition to visit the National Gallery and view the exhibits, and sometimes meet with artists.  I have never been formally trained in any of these fields, but I always embraced the opportunity to explore them.  I don’t recall any holidays that didn’t incorporate some form of cultural education and art history, through visits to historical sites or museums

I purchased my first piece of art when I graduated from college in Washington D.C. – a work by a little known artist Daryl Hathet. At the time I had been influenced by one of my advisors in college who had started to refine my tastes and appreciation for good art. I didn’t consciously consider art from an investment perspective. I recognized each work as the embodiment of priceless value, as a cherished heirloom.

After I returned to Jamaica, having been away for almost 10 years, I began collecting more seriously. And I deliberate over each piece – ask any artist who has had the misfortune to meet me. Over the years, I have continued to collect a large body of works by local emerging artists and master painters and sculptors. My eye as a collector shifted somewhat to contemporary art. Art is evolutionary and as such, so should the collection of it. And because of such, it is quite within a collector’s right to shift accordingly.

Sometimes, a good piece of artwork will find you. Recently, I came across a remarkable and visually intense piece by Xayvier Haughton, a Jamaican art student at Edna Manley College, for his final year show, that caught my attention. Alas, he did not graduate as planned but his work is so compelling. It is part of a series that depicts paternal presence – I had the chance to speak with the artist about creating the piece—he had started his creative process with his child’s mother when she was pregnant. The title of work, which is part of a series,  was Father and Child—and alluded to the relationship between the artist and his infant son that challenges the Madonna and Child construct for which most are accustomed. I was awestruck.

For me, art has no nationality; I collect from all over the world and I am particularly fond of artists who are also activists. On a recent holiday in Cannes, I wandered into a gallery and encountered a large artwork -- Maori head on aluminum. It took everything out of me – oh, and the 26,000 euro price tag – for me not to walk out with it. It explores the Maori artist’s cultural identity and confronts his ambivalence about living in Europe and not actively practicing his indigenous customs. My advice to young collectors is to find out what they really love. It is as I said, collecting is deeply personal and somewhat opinionated. When you like or desire an art object, I think everything else becomes irrelevant. The opinions of others should not cloud your judgment. Rather, see it as a special journey that, in some ways, can help you discover your own voice and sense of self. There is also a popular misconception that collecting art is an expensive hobby reserved for a certain segment of society. I have several cherished artworks in my collection for which I paid less than a night out with friends. Moreover, when it comes to truly appreciating art, it is not necessary that you have to buy everything you appreciate. Collecting is about loving art, and finding what you connect with.