Black Art at Home With Terrell Estime

Black Art at Home With Terrell Estime

by Phillip Collins

When one takes a leap of faith and starts their own business, life changes drastically. Late nights become normal, wearing multiple hats is a given, and your focus intensely shifts to nurturing what you've created. These changes have impacted my entrepreneurial journey as well. Despite these challenges, I still find inspiration through working with artists every day. I'm also inspired by the many collectors who support these artists and the art ecosystem.

I started my journey in art as a collector. The initial phases of learning the process, building relationships with artists, and living with art that reflected my lived experience impacted me greatly. Along the way, I've had the pleasure of meeting other collectors, each with their own style, pace, and intention. My favorite type of collector is what I call the 'confident collector.' These collectors know themselves, trust their gut, and strike the right balance between buying what they love and making strong cultural and financial investments. I've met many of these collectors from around the world, and they generally become friends. I wanted to find a way to celebrate them on our platform.

Our new program, Black Art at Home, does just that. Black Art at Home celebrates a select group of pioneering collectors known for their early recognition of emerging talent, acquiring artworks before the mainstream takes notice. With discerning taste and foresight, they embody a contemporary approach to curating art for their homes. These confident collectors, like the artists they proudly support, trust our vision and understand the impact of what we do. One of those collectors is Terrell Estime.

If you've seen Terrell at art fairs, which he attends regularly, you've likely seen him with a detailed schedule, hitting booths, galleries, events, and everything in between. He's not there for the scene; there's a special focus mixed with passion and curiosity that is rare to see. There's no doubt—Terrell loves art. When our team was developing this program, his name was the first to come up because he embodies our ideal collector.

Last month, Terrell invited me to his Williamsburg loft for a home tour and to discuss this feature. We talked about his artistic family lineage, his precise process for collecting art, and the importance of investing time in arts education. I learned so much from him in those three hours, and I think you will too. 

Phillip: How do you define art?

Terrell: Art allows people to understand a concept, emotion, or feeling being emitted by a physical object that will stand the test of time. Imagine a world that didn’t have art.

Phillip: What emotions do you experience when you're surrounded by your art collection?

Terrell: My collection puts me in an introspective space. When I’m at home, I’ll often listen to music and change the color of the lights to match my mood. The environment I create allows me to process my thoughts in solitude and strategize my next moves in life. What’s most enjoyable is having friends over for parties and hearing their perspectives on how the work resonates with them. They bring fresh perspectives to my collection and help me see it in a new light.


Noah Davis, Imaginary Enemy, 2009. Courtesy of David Zwirner. 

Phillip: Have you ever encountered a piece of art that changed your perspective on a particular subject?

Terrell: Imaginary Enemy (2009) by Noah Davis was the piece of artwork that inspired me to focus on abstracted figurative contemporary art. That piece in particular made me question our relationship with material items and the value we place on them. 

Phillip: So, let’s talk more about how you learned to collect art. Can you tell us about your family's influence on your art collecting?

Terrell: My Grandparents attended Pratt in the 60s and have been collecting since. My parents are both creatives, so it’s in my DNA. Growing up I’d go to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT and when we moved to Georgia, we went to the late Louis Desarte’s studio in Atlanta. My Grandfather’s number one piece of advice has always been to buy what I love. He serves as a mentor to me, and when he’s in town for the Armory Show, we sometimes visit my friends’ art studios. It’s been fun to share my knowledge about the art world with my family since they’re all deeply creative.


Will Maxen, Heat Condenses in my Soles, 2023.


Phillip: You seem patient and have a specific buying process for art. How did you develop your own approach to collecting art?

Terrell: Originally, I didn’t trust my eye enough to acquire works by younger, emerging artists, so I focused on works by mid-career artists. My first acquisition was an ink on paper by William Buchina and it took about a year to acquire my first oil painting which was Apparition (2022) by Tim Kent. It wasn’t until last year, after looking at art consistently for five years, that I felt comfortable enough to acquire work by a younger artist, which happened to be a painting by Will Maxen who had recently earned his MFA from UC Davis.


Terrell Estime, Don’t Put Me in a Box.
Phillip: What role do you see art playing in your daily life, beyond mere decoration?
Terrell: Art quickly becomes the centerpoint of your social life once you’re going to Chelsea openings on Thursdays, Tribeca/Two Bridges openings on Fridays, and studio visits on weekends. It allows me to balance and step away from the analytical nature of finance and enter a creative headspace.
Phillip: So now that art is a big piece of your life, why is it important to live with it?
Terrell: Art challenges your thinking and creates dialogue across groups that may not have otherwise interacted with one another. Art has been a form of expression for as long as we’ve been human.
Demetrius Wilson, I Miss When the Sky Was Blue, 2021-2023. 

Phillip:How do you decide where to display each piece of art in your home or space?

Terrell: I lived in a tiny Lower Eastside apartment when I started collecting so I saw the place as more of an art storage facility. When I moved to Williamsburg into a larger space, I was then able to consider which direction a figure in the painting was facing relative to a doorway or placing a painting of floating skulls in Hell Gette’s painting above my tv. I try to pair works together that speak to one another and find a space on the wall that allows the work to have its own presence.

Phillip: You're moving to Philadelphia soon to start your MBA at Wharton. With your collection in a new physical space, how do you think it will evolve or continue to tell the same stories?

Terrell: My new space in Philly has a similar layout to the space I had in Williamsburg so there isn’t a huge difference in how my collection looks. What has changed is how I view the work. As I grow as a person, I gain a deeper understanding of the message behind the work since I look for works that are reflective of what I’m thinking at the time of acquisition.

Phillip: How do you balance the personal significance of a piece of art with its potential monetary value?

Terrell: I live with my art, so I’m fortunate to see it everyday. If I sacrifice buying what I love for purely monetary reasons, I’d have to be reminded of that decision everyday.


Demetrius Wilson, I Miss When the Sky Was Blue, 2021-2023.


Phillip: You’ve collected works by some of Good Black Art’s artists like Demetrius Wilson and Will Maxen, and have built friendships with them as well. What advice would you give to other collectors on building relationships with artists?

Terrell: Focusing on the friendships that emit positive energy, authenticity, and a level of genuineness are important in a city like NYC where there’s an endless number of people and events happening each day. As a former collegiate athlete, there is a level of drive that I look for in artists. I jokingly tell Demetrius that he thinks like Kobe Bryant and Will that he’s an All-American painter since he played football in college. Studio visits are a great way to understand the mindset behind the work and see if I resonate with how the artist sees the world.


 Allen-Golder Carpenter, I Googled Myself, 2023.

Phillip: Can you share a story of a particularly memorable interaction you've had with an artist whose work you collect?

Terrell: When I first saw the conceptual piece “I Googled Myself” by Allen Golder-Carpenter that I now own, we talked extensively about the importance of remaining grounded during times of rapid growth and remaining optimistic during challenging times. We talked about how we don’t want to be the person who puts themself on a pedestal when they become successful and starts telling people “You can Google me”.

Phillip: You have prints in your collection. What is the significance of this medium for you, and why have you invested in them?

Terrell:When I first started collecting, I didn’t realize how much more expensive paintings were compared to the print version created by the same artist. Prints have allowed me to acquire strong pieces by established artists at a much lower price point than the original would have been. I appreciate hand embellished prints because they feel more unique than standard giclées.

Phillip: What’s a mistake first-time or new collectors should avoid?

Terrell: Skipping the process of regularly going to museums to educate oneself and instead rushing into buying work that someone sells you on that you don’t actually like.

Phillip: What do you want to see more in the art world that is lacking today?

Terrell: Genuine interest in the art. Sometimes it can feel like people are at openings for just the “vibes” and it can feel sceney. I’d like to see more conversation about the actual art.


All images were captured by Phillip Collins, the founder of Good Black Art, armed with nothing but his iPhone, a shaky hand and sheer determination.