As gallerists, many of our clients have asked us regularly about the best way to enjoy and make full use of an art fair, given the recent proliferation of art fairs not only in Singapore, but also the region. Having participated in our share of art fairs – and given one of the biggest art events in Singapore, the Affordable Art Fair, takes place this month – we thought it opportune for gallery director, Weiren Loh, to share his experience to art fair attendees:
1. Know your needs. It’s good to know what your starting point is. Are you looking for a specific space in your house to fill, or are you just browsing? Do you know the measurements of the painting you would like? What type of pieces you are looking to purchase – South East Asian or European; by emerging or established artists? Have you got a budget in mind? Getting these preliminary questions out of the way pave the way for a productive day at the fair.
2. Do your homework. It’s always worth looking at the website of the fair before you visit it to find out more about the fair and its exhibitors. You’ll know how many galleries will be participating in the fair, the regions they come from, and the type of art they carry. Do remember that different fairs cater to different buyers, so it’s best to know what to expect before you step in.
3. Attend the VIP Previews. Most fairs have a VIP Preview night open to exclusive guests and collector invitees. The best pieces by the top artists tend to go quickly on these nights. If you know what you already want, this would be the time to move quickly. For example, at the Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong, the 2 largest pieces by our up-and-coming Monica Dixon sold within an hour of the VIP Preview to 2 very important collectors. But if you’re not sure about what you want, and you wish to take your time to browse the fair leisurely, then attending on a quieter weekday may suit you better.
4. Make full use of the activities. To encourage audience participation and to attract visitors, most fairs organise talks for their attendees. These talks are often given by someone with expertise or experience in the field, and are a good way to bolster your knowledge, whether on art history or the art market. Fairs like the Affordable Art Fair regularly host “speed dating” sessions that introduce fair attendees to 5 participating galleries, all of which would give a 5 minute talk on various art topics – it’s hard for us to think of a better crash course to learn and expand your horizons!
5. Don’t be afraid to ask. With a wide selection of galleries, an art fair is one of the best places for you to ask questions you were always too afraid to ask. Each gallery will bring with it its knowledge and experience in its respective art market. For example, we have received inquiries on the background of our artists, requests for a crash course in Spanish art history and questions on what makes us different from other galleries. And don’t worry, most galleries are approachable and are always happy to help!
To wrap up, while this may seem like a little bit of a cliché, art should always be fun – whether you are a veteran or newbie to collecting. Nothing beats the exhilaration of being surrounded by thousands of beautiful art pieces, or the moment when you fall in love with your first piece. While an art fair is perfect for learning and browsing, just remember that, at the end of the day, it’s the enjoyment of the experience that matters most.
Barnadas Huang is at Stand 3D-21 of the Affordable Art Fair Singapore, Fall Edition. The fair runs from 12 to 15 November 2015, with the VIP Preview taking place on 11 November 2015, at the F1 Pit Building on Republic Boulevard, Singapore.