There is a such thing as a professional art collector. These are people that can generally tell you long histories about why Van Gogh is such an influence on modern art, why Rothko did not consider his paintings to be abstract, and show you the difference between hard edge abstract art and geometric abstract art. I am not yet one of these people. I simply do not know enough about art in order to call myself even a mediocre art collector.
That said, knowing that you don’t know much can be an enormous advantage in the art world. Most experts in the art world, especially gallerists and many of the artists themselves, are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. For some, the problem isn’t getting them to talk about their art or even art in general, it is getting them to stop talking about it. This is a great opportunity to be quiet, listen, and learn more about what you are looking at.
Art is basically an expression of emotion. Artists are paid to express that emotion. Most do that best with the piece itself, but some few are very good at expressing it in words as well. These professionals are the most valuable to the amateur art collector. They are the ones that make you better at finding your taste. They are the ones that will help you make those great purchases that you will treasure for years to come, maybe even your whole life.
Once you find an artist or gallery that gets you to that point, be sure to pay them for their time. This isn’t done by giving them money. It is by buying a piece from them that you really love. The best payment for any artist is for you to love owning a piece as much as they loved making it. The best payment for a gallery owner is for you to appreciate the piece as much as they did when they took the risk of their reputation (their single most valuable asset) by putting it on their wall in the first place.