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Guide to art fairs

The 5 steps to follow to best visit an art fair.

Written by
October 15, 2022


I bet some of you have never been to an art fair.

You may have said to yourself: "no, it's not for me, there are too many people, it's chaotic" or you may have simply thought that art fairs are only for big collectors or those who work in the art world.

I'll tell you something, it's not like that.

Fairs are a place of discovery and are the best opportunity to meet artists and galleries from all over the world.

Not only that, if you are an art lover they can be the ideal place for an alternative experience to the classic museum visit.

It's true, it's much easier to get into a museum and fairs can be intimidating at first, especially if you're not a regular visitor.

But don't worry, because in this article we're going to look at the 5 steps to follow to get the most out of an art fair.

Let's get started!

1 Plan your visit

If it is your first time visiting an art fair, I recommend you do some research before your arrival.

The fair website is the ideal place to start finding information.

Here you can find the list of participating artists and galleries, the works that will be exhibited and, above all, the list of events you can participate in.

As you browse the site, you may find something that interests you, a name you have already heard or a work that catches your eye. Make a note of it so that you don't forget it when you get there.

Then you can download the map to familiarise yourself with the place first. Some fairs are very big and it is very easy to end up at the same stands.

You can recognise the most frequent visitors because they already come with a list of galleries and artists marked on the map that they do not want to miss.

But this is already a pro level!

2 - Choose the day(s) you want to go

Weekdays are different from weekends. 

You should know that during the week the fairs are less crowded and are the days when you can enjoy the experience more quietly than at weekends, when the fairs are more frequented by families, students and the curious.

Keep this in mind when planning your visit, as during the week you will be much more likely to meet the most regular collectors who are there during the first days of the fair to choose a piece to buy before the others.

At the weekend, the staff of the galleries are much more available to talk to the public to promote the artists represented with their works and to make future projects and exhibitions known. 

3 - Don't be shy, ask questions!

Take your time to visit all the stands you have marked on the map but also those that strike you at the moment. Fairs are the ideal time to get in touch with the gallery so don't be afraid to ask for more information about a particular work rather than the artist himself. 

The gallery staff is there for that and will be more than happy to see someone interested.

And if, while walking, you see a work you like that you haven't seen before, stop and approach it. 

The fair is a place of discovery, and the best part is also discovering the hidden gem just around the corner!

4 - Take note

Whether it is in a diary or on your mobile phone, I advise you to make a note of the works you liked. Take photos with your phone and remember to always write down the name of the artist, the gallery and the stand number. This way you can come back the next day to see it again and already knowing what and where to look for.

Also, I can assure you that coming home at night and scrolling through the countless photos without remembering the name of the gallery or the artist is really frustrating! 

5 - Buying the work

If you see something after your first tour that catches your eye, don't hesitate to return to the stand and ask for more information. 

Be aware that some galleries are also willing to give a 10% discount at the fair. 

It's done, don't worry! After all, fairs are places where galleries go to sell.

At the same time, however, don't exaggerate with your requests, we are not at the fruit market.

Always try to understand if there is this predisposition on the other side. If you can't find a compromise, you can always ask to see works by the same artist that are within your budget, galleries are never unprepared and I am sure they will be able to find something that meets your needs.

Finally, remember that most transactions do not take place during the fair, but afterwards. So don't forget to keep in touch with the gallery. Leave your email or phone number and let them know you are interested in staying in touch with them. 

Not necessarily to buy, but just to keep up to date with their events and future exhibitions. I assure you they will be more than happy to add a contact to their mailing list.