The mere mention of the term 'art fair' can strike terror into the heart of a budding art collector. But don't worry, you're not alone - even the great American painter and photographer, Chuck Close, once famously described bringing an artist to an art fair as akin to "taking a cow on a guided tour of a slaughterhouse".
But can you have great fun at an art fair and even - dare we say it - buy some amazing art? You most certainly can. Here are a few tips to help get you on your way.
Before You Go... Be Prepared – Scouts Honour!
Getting the most out of art fairs depends greatly on good forward planning. How much have you browsed the art fair's website or its online or printed catalogue? Have you picked out a few exhibitors that interest you and perhaps asked to be added to their mailing lists, so you know what they will be showing in advance?
Prepare well, and once you get to the fair, you will simply be able to grab a floor plan map, make a beeline for the most interesting galleries and spend the rest of the time on more casual browsing.
Don't forget to enjoy yourself!
Whether or not you visit an art fair with the explicit intention of buying, there's no need to be intimidated. Amid the bustling crowds, you should take your time to walk around the fair and allow your eyes to wander.
Don't try to focus on every piece - just allow your eye to be caught by whatever naturally interests you. After all, it's the art you actually love that will provide the most rewarding ownership experience, should you buy it - rather than the stuff that conforms best with the current dominant art world 'taste'.
But what if you'd like to buy?
Don't feel too pressured to buy a particular piece as soon as you see it. Sure, someone else may snap it up in the meantime, but when you are only just starting with art fairs, it really is worth taking your time to explore and be sure of what you do and don't like.
What’s your best price?
With art fairs generally running for about three days, there's no reason why you can't go more than once. Many exhibitors may have flown in from overseas with their pieces, and therefore prefer to avoid the hassle and expense of having to fly back with them. For this reason, waiting until the last day of an art fair to buy can sometimes give you room to negotiate a better price.
Enjoy your art fair visits, buy wisely, go easy on the alcohol - and above all else, have fun!