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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Brown

7 Reasons Why Young Art Collectors Love Art Fairs

Art fairs are goldmines of fresh work, gathered and arranged for quick perusal, and ripe for picking. It's all about finding the diamonds in the rough.

Wide view of Nelson Ruger's booth at an art fair, with walls covered in colorful paintings

Despite the pause of 2020, art fairs are finally returning all across the United States this summer. This is good news for artists, local communities, and for art collectors. It's especially good for young art collectors.

Art fairs have stormed the art market over the last ten years, springing up in major metropolitan areas all over the globe, opening up global markets, and changing the way people purchase art.

20 years ago, most art was purchased through galleries and auctions. These days the vast majority of art is bought and sold online. This comes with both perks and drawbacks. On one hand, potential buyers can now browse a much larger collection of works with much less effort. They can see similar pieces side-by-side when making choices. They can also find the works of artists from other cities, countries, and continents whose work they otherwise would never have seen.

There's a huge drawback, however, to digital art purchase. Seeing a piece on a computer screen is a very poor representation of your experience when you and your art face to face. Luckily, art fairs are the solution.

See Your Art In Person

This is one of the most powerful benefits of attending art fairs. Good art evokes emotion. Whether through color, scale, line, or texture, it should fascinate you and draw you in. That's the first requirement of what makes a piece worth adding to your collection. Some aspects of this can translate to a computer screen, but many cannot.

Color rendering, for example, continues to improve on computers and mobile devices, so you're hopefully seeing something close to what you will get. Linework doesn't lose much of its effect in digital form. Scale, on the other hand, is a challenge to portray out of context. Even works shown in larger photos, that include people or furniture for reference, still don't give you the same sense of size and balance that you get from standing in front of a piece.

This is particularly important for younger collectors. Trying to imagine what a painting really looks like from a digital image is its own skill that takes time and experience to develop.

When you walk up to that piece on a wall at an art fair, there is no question at all. Love it or hate it, you know.

See a Huge Range of Art in One Place

Industry insiders recommend art fairs as one of the best ways to begin collecting art. One of the reasons for this is honing your own style, taste, and eye.

Good art fairs attract a range of artists with a wide variety of styles and genres. When you're starting out, it's extremely helpful to walk the entire show, taking everything in. This helps you hone in on the styles and pieces that catch and hold your attention, versus those that leave you flat or uninterested.

Rather than trekking to multiple galleries across multiple cities, art fairs provide this full palette right at your fingertips.

Meet Artists and Gallery Owners

Nelson Ruger painting a commission with palette knives at an art festival

Collecting art isn't only about individual works. Part of the finesse of buying and selling art is developing relationships throughout the wider art community. This includes the artists themselves, as well as other collectors, curators, critics, and gallery owners.

Different art shows cater to different groups, so you'll be able to make different flavors of connections. Art fairs in the largest cities tend to attract more galleries, where you'll have the chance to meet owners and sellers of art. Art shows outside New York and London are more likely to feature booths by the artists themselves.

Meeting an artist is a chance to build a personal connection that could last a lifetime. Not only can you learn about their process and their motivation, but it opens the doors for opportunities such as personal commissions.

Connecting with artists is particularly useful to younger collectors, or those who may be on a stricter budget. Personal relationships often create opportunities to purchase works at lower prices, or even see new works before they're debuted to the general public. You'll never know what opportunities await unless you know your artist and how they operate.

Mix with the Collector Community

There is a vibrant and passionate art community in every city I've ever explored. Collectors speak their own refined language, and it's so much fun to talk art with people who love it as deeply as you do.

Walking an art show with someone passionate isn't just fun, it also hones your eye and the way you talk about art. Having to put abstract visual concepts into meaningful words is a skill, one the best collectors have mastered. It's also a skill that only improves with practice.

For young collectors, art fairs are the perfect place to meet and build relationships with the wider community. There is so much to learn beyond the canvas, and the best way to move forward is to ask questions of the right people. Art fairs are the place to build your skills and your network.

Instant Gratification

Artist and art collector photographed with a newly purchased piece of art, showing a girl with an umbrella on a rainy city street

A small but enjoyable perk of buying at art fairs is not having to wait to have your art shipped to you. Sales move quickly at art fairs and once you’ve purchased a piece you can usually take it home and hang it straight on your wall.

This is an extra bonus for those working on a budget, as it completely eliminates shipping and handling fees.

Support Your Community, and the Artists You Love

Art fairs don’t only benefit artists and collectors. They also bring in tourism and revenue to the community. This is a great reason to support art fairs near you. You’re helping out your local economy while enjoying beautiful art!

Art fairs are also important to support the artists you love. Even though they create for passion, selling their work is a business, and it's a tough one. Figures are still out on how many studios were forced to permanently close during the last two years, but the percentage is alarmingly high. Visiting the booth of an artist whose work you love, increases the chances that they'll be able to keep making art.

Discover New Artists on the Rise

This perk isn't for everyone. Like with financial investing, there is a risk vs. reward equation involved. If you're focused more on eventual resale value or net worth, then purchasing art from upcoming artists is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. If they hit it big, you're set. If they don't, then you don't reap the big rewards. Just like a stock, the trajectory is out of your hands.

If this sounds exciting, then smaller art fairs are a brilliant place to identify rising talent. Trust your personal eye and find work that you believe in. You may find the next rising star.

However, art isn't really about money. It's about emotion and passion and beauty. If your art collection leans less on net worth and more on how it makes you feel, art fairs are made for you. Here is an infinite variety of new work, gathered together for your pleasure.

You can wander the booths, chat with friends, and take your time exploring. When you find the piece that speaks to you, face-to-face in all its glory, you'll know.

Dive in, enjoy the swim, and find the pearl that's waiting just for you.

Whether you're looking close to home, or travelling the globe, art fairs are popping up all over. Find one that sparks your interest and head over this summer. You may just find that diamond.

If you're near Des Moines on June 26th and 27th, stop by Art Fest Midwest and find the Nelson Makes Art booth. We would love to see you!


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