Art fairs. They can be daunting. The amount of art can be intimidating to the extent of temporary brain outage and a suspicious blurring of the eyes. After spotting your first obvious art connoisseurs eager to spend their excessive wealth, you tend to feel smaller than you did at arrival time, gently crushing the arty streak you had prided yourself on. Don’t no fancy champagne change that art fair-kill! But there’s a way to grow into it and truly enjoy your art fair visits. Don’t give up yet! Follow these 3 art fair tips to stay happy when you go.
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Start with a smaller art fair
No need to start off at the prestigious TEFAF! Roll into it more friendly and start with a smaller, local art fair. The prices are usually lower and the crowd less posh. It will be easier to feel at home and pretend you can afford all the beauty. Check out the venues in Google Maps to get an idea of the fair size. The amount of art dealers doesn’t always give you many clues, as it depends on how much space each one gets.
Most fairs will show off the amount of objects displayed. At TEFAF Maastricht, for example, one of the well-known art and antiques fairs around, 35.000 objects are no exception. A much better digestible number would be about 3.000 pieces to start off with.
Art fair tips: the Rotterdam International Art Fair (http://www.artfairrotterdam.com/), with 3.000 pieces on show in the beautiful Laurens Church is a good place to start. Starting September 9th.
Stop comparing yourself to others
I know, I know, we are all human. It’s hard to cut out comparison all together. But hey! Don’t forget many art collectors have well passed the age of eternal youth and probably worked thirty times the amount you’d like to even think about. No grass is always greener at any place at all. You might not be able to take a real Picasso home, but man, wouldn’t you just feel horrified at the thought of going on holiday, leaving it behind unguarded?
Try visiting the more budget friendly art fairs. Art has entered the era of artmocracy and leaves behind elitist monopoly, so check out the fairs in the nearest town and look for those inviting promising young artists. They still have to be discovered, so you could be their early adopters and follow them through their careers. Feels like colonizing new countries.
Art fair tips: Visit the Affordable Art Fairs around the globe. The one in New York (http://affordableartfair.com/newyork/) starts September 28th. Half of the art pieces goes for under 5.000 dollars. The one in Amsterdam begins October 27th and has amazing affordable art fair, all for € 6.000 and under (http://affordableartfair.com/amsterdam/?lang=en).
Choose a niche
Can’t stop seeing babies everywhere now your girlfriend is knocked up? Same goes for art fairs. Once you start looking around, you will see so many being organized. There’s so much to choose from so why limiting yourself to the obvious ones? Put Art Basel aside, the large fairs host such an incredible array you will get tired sooner than you did in the Louvre. Specialize! Choose your niche and go for 1990’s abstract painting, Mongolian sculpture, dead animals, anything you warm up for. That makes choosing way easier and definitely more enjoyable.
So check the websites and follow your heart. There’s no need having to love everything shown at Frieze London, just handpick what you like. It will make you feel more powerful, leaving you less susceptible to the outside glamour of the art fair world and feeling your poor ol’ self. And by specializing you have a bigger chance on becoming ‘expert’ on a specific type of art. Score!
Art fair tips: Unseen Photo Fair (https://www.unseenamsterdam.com/unseen-photo-fair) in Amsterdam, starting September 23rd, combined with a festival in the Amsterdam photography museum FOAM. Or specialize in Dutch artists and visit the ADAF: Annual Dutch Art Fair in Amsterdam (http://www.adaf.nl/kunstenaars/) also starting September 23rd.
Both images are courtesy of Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam, the first one taken by Froukje and the second one is an art piece by Yvonne Michels.