What to do at an art fair

A few tips from our Founder on how to make an art fair work for you

The month of March is filled with art fairs in New York City. It’s fun – you see what’s out there, sometimes sip a few cocktails, and hopefully, you either purchase something, get a better idea of your own aesthetic preferences, or just have a good time with all the visual stimulation.

Fairy Tale in the Key of C (Castle, Couch &  Cock), Jeffrey B.;  50"x46", oil on canvas

Fairy Tale in the Key of C (Castle, Couch &  Cock), Jeffrey B.; 50"x46", oil on canvas

Despite starting a company that helps you commission works of art rather than buy existing works, I am a huge fan of going to these fairs. First, I don’t believe that every work of art in your home needs to be commissioned. Second, even if you are interested in commissioning a work of art, seeing more live works gives you a better sense of your commission vision and more vocabulary with which to articulate it. And, third, I truly believe you’ll confirm even a slight interest to commission a work once you come back from one of these.

But, the fairs can also be overwhelming, inundating you with too many genres and media, and ultimately leading you to doubt your own aesthetic sense. Here are a few tips to guard against just that and to make these fairs work for you:

1) Don’t trust your own memory. Decide on one or two walls in your home for which you are shopping.  If you would like for the artwork to fit your décor in a specific way, take pictures on your phone of those spots and their surrounding environments, especially the defining aspects of those settings (such as key pieces of furniture, statement display items, or rugs). These are the very things that we seem to experience and remember differently than they actually are.  You don’t want to be buying artwork off of your memory of these things. The pictures will be something you can refer back to as you walk through the aisles of an art fair and will help you visualize a potential piece in your home.  

2) Be strong in your vision. Cement your vision for those walls as strongly as you can before you go to the fair. Simply noting down your preferences in size range, medium, colors, genre, and overall feeling of the artwork will help you stay true to your vision when you get to an art fair and start seeing a few hundred works in front of you. You’ll be able to identify works that fit your vision quickly. Moreso, you’ll be able to trust yourself if you become intrigued by a work of art that doesn’t fit your original vision – you’ll know that it might be worth veering off course with a certain work of art that is just that stunning to you.

Neptune, Julia C.;  48"x48", acrylic

Neptune, Julia C.; 48"x48", acrylic

3) Go to one of the first days that the fair is open. I am a big believer that if you can’t stop thinking about something for more than a day, then there is something more there. Go to one of the earlier days of the fair so that if something caught your attention and just won’t leave your mind alone, you can go back and get it the next day.

4) Note what you didn’t find, and collaborate with an artist to commission it instead. Remember that you don’t have to buy something that already exists. Be okay with not finding what you wanted at a fair. Despite how many works you’ll see, all original artwork is unique and was made by someone other than you, which means that you won’t necessarily find what you’re looking for. Make sure to note down what was missing in the pieces that perhaps were “almost there.” You can always get something made just for you.