Access to the ART FAIRS for individual artists
2 July, 2019
Guest author Kayle Giroud is the Founder of Outsmartist, the world’s premier art fair directory that enables people to get information about art fairs worldwide and review them. It also gives everyone the opportunity to connect, share, and meet with major players in the art world.
The art world has expanded considerably and became more and more professional over the past 20 years with an explosion of the number of art fairs. In just two decades, the number of international art fairs has jumped from 10 to over 200, and over 80% of them are located in Europe and North America, making it increasingly difficult for emergent artists to access the art markets, especially those living outside these two major regions.
Most of today’s biggest fairs were started in the 1970s and were explicitly designed for galleries to sell art. Today, art fairs are popping up everywhere and more are open to applications from individual artists in addition to galleries: Art3f in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, Superfine in the United States, The Affordable Art Fairs in London, Milan, Singapore, Stockholm, Hamburg, Amsterdam, etc.
Some cities also organize free exhibitions for resident artists, such as Brussels with its exhibition “Carte de Visite/Artopenkunst” organized every year in February. If you can’t or don’t want to be represented by a gallery, free opportunities are a great way to connect with people around you. There is no point of paying $1,500 in average to exhibit in an art fair in your own town to sell your art to people you see every day. This is valid both for galleries and individual artists. A good Instagram campaign can bring these people directly to you.
However, a fair abroad could be interesting to expand both the network and prospects of the artist or gallery but it represents a higher financial investment, especially considering the shipping costs and insurances. As for galleries, some might ask you as an artist to rent the walls or a space for one fixed exhibition, others will want to work with you on a longer term basis and represent you either fully or partially. Most often, street galleries take 50% of commission on sales but on the other hand they will take care of the sales, giving you more time to work, and they give you access to their network and can offer opportunities to be represented in art fairs at the international level.
If you are looking for a full gallery representation, the only advice I can give you is not to be afraid to get yourself out there. Again, social media are your greatest allies. Your art is a business, so you need to build your personal brand. Send messages to relevant people and galleries, like their pages, and share content with them. This will make you visible. Posting new art work on a regular basis – ideally once or twice a week – will also show you produce enough to follow the demand of a gallery. Attend openings and exhibitions, meet with, speak with and present your work to gallery directors, curators and other artists. Get yourself out there and prove you’re not just a flash in the pan. And most importantly, take all the good opportunities you’re offered but don’t forget to be true to yourself and to your work. Don’t accept any gallery representation just for the sake of it if you feel that it will not lead to a healthy relationship and good outcome. Positivism and authenticity are essential! Also, you never know where a simple “yes” can lead you.
All in all, being an artist is a tremendous journey. You will encounter challenges, big and small, but like any other businesses really and yours is entirely tied to your personal brand. It is yourself you are selling first and foremost.
Founder of Outsmartist
Tags: art fair