Back from the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair this weekend. A day unpacking and tidying up the studio ( it always gets left in a mess) and now sat with a cuppa already planning what to take to the next one, which is the Sussex Art Fair in May at Goodwood. But I often get asked why I do them? Why not just sell your art online or through a gallery? It takes months of planning and painting new works, the stands are expensive and there is no guarantee that you will recuperate your costs, so what is the appeal and why do artists do them?
For me the simple answer is because I love them. Its three days of being surrounded by beautiful art, talking all things art and a total escape from the everyday grind to a world of creativity and soul deep beauty. It is always buzzy and exciting and often, there are live demos and companies selling art supplies. Its well attended by other artists and art lovers and a chance to talk all things arty without fear of seeing someone's eyes glaze over or stifle a yawn which my family often do when I try to sneak it into the conversation.
Its great to be able to pass on knowledge to other artists or art students visiting for techniques or ideas, plus its wonderful to meet art buyers who connect with your art and want to know about the inspiration behind a piece. Occasionally the art work is not for them but by discussing their requirements, such as where it would hang, how would it be presented i.e. framed or unframed, artificial or natural lighting etc. The artist is on hand to answer these and any other questions to enable you to visualize how the artwork will look in your home.
I have known some artists to go one step further and offer to bring the art work to your home for you to 'try before you buy'. It happened to the Person on the stand beside us this weekend. A couple were torn between two artworks and couldn't decide which to buy. They lived close so he offered to take both paintings to their apartment, after the show on Saturday. Needless to say they loved them and bought them both! Its a a lovely exchange of energy between the artist and art buyer that just doesn't happen if you sell via a third party.
Every sale, without exception you will be guaranteed to make an artist do a happy dance. Nothing can beat the thrill that someone has connected with your artistic vision enough to part with their hard earned cash to buy it. For that moment you are kindred spirits recognising a shared emotion portrayed in thick paint and brush marks. I remember a lovely lady who attended one art fair last year who bought one of my graffiti pieces. She was telling me how she went on holiday each year to look at graffiti and totally understood why I was painting it. We could have chatted all day. It just one of many wonderful encounters I have had with art lovers at events.
I also love that with every sale the joy is shared amongst other artists who happily cheer you on. There is a real sense of comradery over the three day period. You often find that by the end of it, you and your neighbours on the stands have become best buddies. You know everything about their art, why they paint what inspires them and new events or sources or income for selling your art.
If you are a new artist often someone on the stand nearby will take you under their wing and nurture you through the mammoth task of setting up and taking down your stand. So many tips and tricks to be learnt such as using blue tack on the corners so when your stand wobbles the painting doesn't go wonky.
So that is why I do them. So far I have always (apart from one time ) made enough to cover the cost of my stand . It can be a hard hit if you don't as sales of course, are not guaranteed. But in those cases its vital to look and watch what people are buying, what are other artists doing to attract people on to their stand. Can you do anything to improve your sales. Is the demographic visiting the art fair for you and your art? If not research and find one that is. There is a huge value in networking, making connections to other artists, finding out about events including Commission enquiries and just getting your art out there.
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