Art Fairs can be a bustling, exciting place to view art from a variety of artists; they can also be crowded, intimidating places filled with collectors who already know what they are seeking. Fear not! You can attend—and enjoy—art fairs with a little bit of legwork. Once a place for younger, less notable artists to get their feet wet and their work into the hands of enthusiasts, art fairs are becoming more premier events where artists and galleries strive to build their reputation from “well-known” to “famous.” They are attended by dealers, critics, collectors, curators, and aspiring gallerists alike, and the value of this type of networking cannot be measured. It has become a “see and be seen” type of venue, and worth attending. Here are some suggestions which can make your first few fair experiences just that fair.
Be Prepared to Walk Around
These events can cover a large area, so wear your most comfortable shoes and view the map ahead of tackling the entire venue. Some international art fairs can attract up to 20,000 visitors (Masterpiece London from 2015). Plan to focus on what you are interested in, be it a few artists, galleries, or just types of art. It is a daunting task (and nearly impossible) to see everything, so try to keep in mind what your goals are for this event.
Have Some Goals
This is your first task; are you attending to learn, to build your eye for art, or are you genuinely wanting to walk away with a new piece (or even two). If you have planned well, you won’t feel as rushed to make a split-second decision. Further, you can formulate a strategy (and budget) for pieces that you may be inclined to purchase.
Do Your Homework
Read about the fair ahead of time. Discover artists and galleries who are represented there. If you have already made a connection with a gallery or have an artist whose work you enjoy, then build your plan around those exhibitors. Shop around and compare similar pieces. The ambiance of the art fair can be competitive, so know what you are willing to pay for a piece should you find something you want.
Do Not Rush Into Making a Purchase
You may find something you like, but an art fair can be a cut-throat place to buy artwork. If you are new to art collecting, don’t let your excitement to buy something outweigh your budget or good judgment. Consider looking at the piece in the gallery after the art fair if you are willing to risk losing the piece. If you are looking for a particular artist’s work, view several pieces before committing to purchase. Not all works are of the same quality, so you will want to be sure to get the best return on your investment.
An art fair is a perfect setting to get an education in a short period of time. The best exhibitors (and usually most successful) are eager to talk about the work they have brought, the artists they represent, and their gallery. Take advantage of this and ask away! Most curators are happy to share their knowledge and opinions with others.
Bring Your Art Advisor
As you have discovered earlier, an art advisor is a mentor to help guide you through the world of collecting art. His or her years of experience can help you decide whether a piece is worth buying if the art meets your needs, and to assist you with finalizing a purchase, either at the fair or after you have established a relationship with an exhibiting gallery. Participating in some of the conversations with gallerists and your advisor, you will be learning some of the language and skills which are necessary to be successful in collecting art wisely.
If you are looking for advice or simply don’t have the time to travel to art fairs, let Sybaris Collection do the work for you! We attend art fairs and events worldwide (see Art Athina) and collect unique and amazing pieces. Our free art advisory service can help determine what you are looking for, shop on your behalf, or share with you some pieces we have discovered. For those with a more discriminating taste, our private ARTclub provides you with exclusive pieces offered only to members.