First aid when visiting an art fair
If you've never been to an art fair, a whole new world will probably open up to you soon! An art fair is not only a location where supply and demand of art come together, they are often quite an experience in themselves. And you really don't have to be a pro or connoisseur to attend such an event. In fact, most art fairs are specifically designed for the wider public. In this article you will find the tips and tricks to get the best out of your exhibition visit and an overview of a number of well-known upcoming art fairs.
Preparation at home
Check in advance which fairs there are in your area that sell art that you are attracted to. You can often also see which galleries and artists are participating in the relevant edition on the website of the fair itself. There are also often examples of the works of art that will be offered for sale at the fair and artists that may appeal to you.
Construction of a booth for the annual KunstRai art fair in Amsterdam
Take a good look at the program, usually a fair has regular guest speakers such as the artists themselves and other educational programs or even tours. Especially for a novice collector, these activities can make your visit more varied and offer a great opportunity to further develop your knowledge.
Another useful tip is to buy a ticket for the art fair online in advance, this can save the price and prevent extra waiting time.
Buying a ticket for an art fair online can prevent waiting times and sometimes saves on costs
At the art fair itself
If you have bought an entrance ticket online, you can often walk through quickly. Just to be on the safe side, bring some change to hang up your coat in the guarded cloakroom so that you have your hand free and can move around the fair easily.
Also take a map or catalog of the fair, usually these are also at the entrance. An art fair can be like a maze that you can easily get lost in, so to avoid going around in circles and missing certain galleries, it's good to have an overview of the fair to hand.
Overview photo of the annual art fair Art The Hague with mainly contemporary art
Focus first on the galleries you don't want to miss. If necessary, tick where your favorites are on the map and map out your own route based on this. Keep an open mind and don't be too hard on yourself: if you see a great work in the corner of your eye that immediately grabs your attention, then don't plan. There is nothing better than being surprised!
Chances are you're still going around in circles a bit simply because there's so much to see! Therefore, the right footwear is also highly recommended. High heels look great, but don't work very well on deep pile carpets or long distances in general.
You can easily get lost at an art fair, let yourself be surprised!
In the booth of a gallery
If you eventually see something beautiful, ask the gallery owner questions, you really don't have to buy something right away. For example, you can ask questions about the technique, the material, the theme or the artist's CV.
Gallery owner Jaap Versteegh of gallery Pygmalion explains animatedly during the annual art fair Art Breda
The gallery owner will be happy to tell you more about the works of art. Even prices are not a forbidden question. Knowing the price will also help you start comparing and get an idea of the art market, which is an important first step if you're planning to become an art collector somewhere along the way.
Note the red dots but don't hesitate to double check. Officially, red dots mean the work has been sold. However, some gallery owners and dealers will have negotiated a preliminary sale with their customers, meaning that if someone comes up with a better offer, they are free to accept it.
And remember that photography always comes in multiple editions, so a red dot doesn't necessarily mean it's sold out.
Artwork by Damien Hirst with many red dots at an art fair
Take a break
Finally, if at some point during the fair you become visually overwhelmed (don't be ashamed, it happens to all of us), you can always shift your attention to the audience. Art fairs are increasingly becoming a hot spot for celebrities. In general, art lovers and collectors tend to be quirky and creative people, so chances are you'll start a fun and unexpected conversation at some point!
Fortunately, catering is an important part of the art fair and the bars always offer a good range of alcoholic drinks. A nice glass of champagne next to an oyster is only part of the experience. In addition, the bar is also a great place to meet people from the art world and discuss the works that have made a special impression on you.
An informal drink during an art fair
Found the work of an artist of your dreams, but it doesn't fit your budget? You can always ask for a discount. There is often still quite a bit of room to get something off the price, especially if you pay for the work immediately and take it with you.
Galleries will often present their most beautiful works of art in their stands. But what you see is sometimes just the tip of the iceberg, often they still have a stock for the other days. If you have fallen for a particular artist's style, don't hesitate to ask about other works by the artist. The gallery may also have brought in a similar work that you may even like better. A nice side effect might be that can have a look at the secret storage of the gallery owner!
A critical visitor during the annual art fair the PAN Amsterdam
If you are in doubt about a possible purchase. Keep in mind that at a fair there are often more privateers on the coast. If you wait too long before making a decision, it may just be that another buyer is just ahead of you. To avoid this disappointment, you can ask the gallery owner if you can take an option at work so that you can think about it for a few hours.
Some art fairs are held in the most beautiful places, such as Naarden The Artfair in the Grote Kerk Naarden
Leaving the art fair
After your visit to the fair it is often difficult to list what you have seen. So many impressions, names and images can cause a whirlwind of (visual) information in your head. Therefore, take photos of works of art, prices and the names of the galleries and artists that you find interesting, so that you do not forget them afterwards and you can look up more information about the artist at a later time. You can often find this on the website as well.
You may not be going home alone, so bring your car. If you do become the proud new owner of a work of art at the art fair (congratulations!), don't be surprised if the art dealer gives you the opportunity to take it home the same day. So if you're really planning to buy a piece, public transportation probably isn't the best option.
Impression of the annual art fair The Affordable Artfair, where 'affordable' art is offered under a certain amount
Hopefully you now feel sufficiently prepared to enter the realm of art fairs. As you can see, there is no need to be intimidated, on the contrary, you will most likely be inspired instead!
For example, did you know that a gallery ends up making about half of its sales through an exchange? And if you find entering a gallery too high-threshold, a fair is a great opportunity to admire the latest works of art from several galleries.
For a good preparation, also look at our Event & Art Fair overview for the upcoming Events and Art Fairs!
For more art online, take a look at our online collection at Gallerease!