Art Fairs: Small and Large
There are only two major art fairs, and they are The Armory Show and Basel. There are, however, small DIY (Do It Yourself, usually run by artists) or small commercial fairs that travel around neighborhoods where major art fairs occur. Art fairs are undergoing big changes. The two big fairs are extremely exclusive. Basel Art Fair, for example, only takes certain galleries in their fair and has VIP openings that cater to wealthy collectors. Generally, fairs like Basel are not a good place for moderately successful artists to promote their work. The reason is that the gallery directors at these fairs only want to talk to collectors and sell the art on display, and are not interested in meeting new artists. In fact, artists tend to get in the way of delicate new meetings between directors and their potential clients.
Meeting Gallerists at Art Fairs
Most gallery owners and directors are present at the fairs, but it is difficult for them to respond to your questions because collectors are hovering around their booths. However, you will have other opportunities. At the biggest fair, Art Basel, which now travels and has an event in Miami as well, you can certainly meet people. All around the fair are some of the wealthiest collectors in the world. The place to meet them is not near the booths themselves, where business takes place, but in the lounges and bars. If you are this adventurous, you will have to buy a pass to get into the fair, or know someone who has one. You will also have to be brave enough to not hesitate to ask someone wearing a power suit what their name is. If you do not have a pass to the fair, you may also be able to meet people in bars and hotels around the fairgrounds. These can be very high-powered encounters, but if you meet people and get their business cards, that in itself is a victory. Be forewarned that there will be a lot of schmoozing going on at these scenes, and if you are not up for that, I wouldn’t go, because that is how the game is played there.
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