How to Tackle an Art Fair

The Affordable Art Fair is coming to Austin May 16-19 at the Palmer Event Center and it’s unlike anything the city has seen. With 60+ galleries ranging from local to international, it will be a dizzying amount of art to take in over the 4-day event. Here are some tips to help you plan, prepare and make the most of this opportunity to enjoy, collect and discover amazing art:

1. Decide which day to attend based on the experience you want. When figuring out which day to go, make sure to check the fair schedules as each day offers special events like Family Hours, a Director's Tour, "Artist Is In" Happy Hour to meet the artist, panel discussions, and more. Maybe you want to go VIP for first dibs or maybe you're more of an evening stroll kind of type. Above all, give yourself plenty of time to meander and explore. A full list of programming can be found HERE and tickets can be purchased HERE.

2. Do your homework. In most cases, each booth will feature multiple artists. It’s a good idea to go HERE to scope out the list of online participating artists and galleries ahead of time to prioritize your must-see booths. You can further filter by style/subject and gallery origin. Scoping things out online can also allow you to compare 2 artworks side by side which may not be plausible at the fair. Note that galleries are represented by a single thumbnail artwork, so you can dig deeper by clicking on the image to reveal a carousel of more artworks. There's also direct links to the galleries to get a better sense of who they are.

3. Measure and photograph your space.
If you have a specific spot in your home you are searching to fill, make sure to note ideal and maximum measurements for an artwork. It’s also helpful to take photos of the space - this can be helpful to reference back to for colors, especially if deciding between pieces. 

4. Talk to the artist. If you see a piece you’re interested in and the artist is present, ask questions! Maybe you’ll hear more about a hidden story behind the piece, what sparked the painting, or what technique was used. This can provide a deeper connection and experience to the art you see. Or if you like something but it’s too big/small/not the "right" color, ask the artist if they have more similar works or are available for commissions. There’s only so much us artists can hang in the booth, but I guarantee there’s more to see - all you have to do is ask.

5. Shop from your gut. It’s fine to not even know what you are looking for or what genre of art you like. This is a treasure hunt and when you find something that captivates you - that’s the feeling you are after. You don’t have to know why you like something, just that you love it - and you should love it since you are the one who will be admiring it on a daily basis. A good question to ask yourself is how you’d feel if you walked around and came back and that artwork was gone. These are originals, so when you connect with a piece, it really is like finding a treasure.

6. Get a map and take notes. The layout of this fair is not a perfect grid. There’s a chance you will see something and not remember how to get back. All booths will be clearly marked with both the gallery name and an alphabetical + numeric combination. If there’s one you want to come back to, take note of the booth number or better yet, circle it on your map which you can download HERE.

7. Ask about payment plans. Now I can’t speak for everyone at the Fair, but I know I offer payment plans for purchases. It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if there is any hesitation over the cost. Being the Affordable Art Fair, you can go in knowing all artworks are priced under $10K, with a great many under $1,000.

8. Be comfortable and hydrate!

Do you have to do all these things? Of course not! Nothing wrong with showing up and taking it all in as you go. Whatever your approach, I hope these tips help and be sure to stop by booth B-11 to see myself and fellow Canopy Collective artists Norah Levine, Ann Flemings, Karen Woodward and Rebecca Bennett. Happy art hunting!