Buyer’s Guide: All is Fair

Like a theme park populated with artists and galleries, the size and scope of an art fair can seem overwhelming. Briony Downes talks to the experts to find out how to tackle an art fair like a pro.


1. Spoilt for choice

Art fairs offer an in-depth overview of current trends and popular styles in all your favourite mediums. Filled with individual booths where artists and galleries display their work, art fairs show emerging and established artists covering a wide range of price points. “One of the hazards of art fairs is falling in love with an artwork outside your budget,” says Stephanie Kelly, director of the Affordable Art Fair in Australia. “Don’t be afraid to talk budgets. Ask if the artist has smaller works, editions or other pieces,” she suggests.

2. Map it out

Just like planning an overseas trip, spend time researching the galleries and artists you want to see. Download a floor map of the fair and mark out must-see destinations. Once you know where to go, keep an open mind and delight in the unexpected. Director of The Other Art Fair Australia, Luke Potkin says, “We lay out our fairs to allow visitors to see a huge array of work but with plenty of aesthetic variety regardless of where they are. The aim is never to be too prescriptive so there is always a sense of discovery.”

3. Embrace the magic

Art fairs are busy. Purchase tickets early and start on a preview day to get a good idea of what’s on offer. “Art fairs are a sensory overload and such a magical place to discover new artists,” says Stephanie. “Grab a catalogue and take your time exploring the fair. When you see an artwork you like, take the plunge and ask the gallerist to tell you more about the artist – where they studied, accolades, techniques and inspiration.”

4. Talk it up

Aside from sales, the cornerstone of every art fair is conversation. Whether it be chatting to an artist, a gallerist or attending a curator’s talk, communication and learning are key experiences. Sydney-based artist Angus Martin has found art fairs to be a rewarding way to share his inspirations with others. “Each of my works relate to a quote, poem or a song – which I used to keep to myself,” Angus says. “At the first art fair I attended, I realised when I opened up and told people the meanings behind pieces, the reactions were so positive. Meeting buyers this way is great, as you know the artwork is appreciated and going to a loving home.”

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