Good preparation is everything! Check the website of the fair in advance to see which galleries and artists are participating in the fair. Some of the participants will probably look familiar to you. Maybe you've been to one of the galleries before, you've seen some of the artists in a museum exhibition or you know the names from other fairs where they were exhibiting. Make a selection of must-see works, interesting artists and promising booths in advance to make sure you won't miss them!
Onto the fair floor
Armed with a list of artists and galleries you found online, you enter the fair. Don't be tempted to walk through the fair stand by stand, but focus first on the galleries you don't want to miss. Mark your favorites on the floor plan and use it to plan your own route. Keep an open mind and don't be too strict: if you see an amazing work in the corner of your eye that immediately draws your attention, go check it out. Nothing is more fun than being surprised by new talent!
Are you crazy about a work of art that you've spotted at one of the galleries? Then be sure to talk to the gallery owner in attendance, they will be happy to tell you more about the artist. Ask questions about the technique, the material, the theme and the artist's resume: Each new layer of information provides a broader and more in-depth view of the work. Do not hesitate to ask the gallery owner for the price list during this conversation. Not only to find out if your favorite work fits into your budget, but also to build up a frame of reference for yourself.
After your visit to the fair, it is often difficult to sum up everything you have seen. So many impressions, names and images can create a whirlwind of (visual) information in your head. Therefore, take photographs of the works of art you find interesting so that you don't forget them afterwards and you can look up more information about the artist at a later date. Don't forget to write down the names of the artists, galleries and possibly prices. There is nothing more frustrating than scrolling through your photos in the evening and finding out that you have no idea which artists belong to which works.
After your first exploratory round of the fair, go back to the galleries that stood out to you. Take the time to look at your favorites again and ask more questions if you have any doubts about a possible purchase. Bear in mind that there are often more competitors at a fair. If you wait too long to decide, another buyer may be just ahead of you. To avoid this disappointment you can ask the gallery owner if you can take an option on the work, so you can think about it quietly for a few hours.
Have you found the work of your dreams, but it does not fit within your budget? Ask the gallery owner if there are any other works by the same artist available. Many galleries have a 'stockroom' in their booth, where they have a small stock of artworks stored behind a door that are not hanging in the booth but are for sale. A work by the same artist in a different format, or in a different medium (for example, a drawing on paper is lower in price than an oil painting) could suddenly be accessible!
Young Collectors Circle
Young Collectors Circle will show you around at fairs in the Netherlands (Unseen, Art Rotterdam, PAN, TEFAF, KunstRAI), Belgium (Art Brussels, BRAFA) and in Germany, France, Portugal, Switzerland, England and the USA, among others. Want to know more about the visits that are planned? Then check the homepage (scroll down for the calendar) for more information and to sign up.