I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my experience a The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY last month and i figured I’d go ahead and put up a blog post about it.
What most artists seem to be most curious about is if I think it was worth the expense. In a word, yes. But let’s break down what those expenses were.
This was a four day art fair in New York City, and I am an artist living and with a studio in Lowell, MA, so I had to get myself and my work to and from the city. I also had to put a roof over my head at night while I was there. I’m lucky on both counts. I bought a compact cargo van recently which I used to transport myself and 20 medium to large scale paintings to and from the city. I also know a lot of people in NYC these days and some very generous folks let me stay in their apartment while they were on vacation. So with those costs basically out of the way, the remaining expenditures were mostly:
So my total expense was about $3150.
I took in $3961.00 I had $4660 in sales and the fair took 15%. Yes, even though they charge you to participate, they do still take a commision.
So that’s about $800 profit. Not what you might call a living wage, but much better than other fairs I’ve done around Boston where there is someone selling jewellery in the $10 – $50 price range two booth down and where I have historically had no success selling large paintings for thousands of dollars.
There are additional benefits as well. I always like to go to New York, and it was my first time showing my work in that very important city. I took the opportunity to check out the Whitney, where they had a very interesting exhibition of work by Laura Owens, whom I had not previously known of but whose work I liked very much. I also went to several galleries in Chelsea. Being in the fair gave me a great reason to strike up conversations with gallerists I would otherwise probably be too shy to talk to. It was great to be able to say to them, “Have you been to The Other Art Fair this weekend yet?” as a conversation opener. I got to meet a lot of world class artists whom I hope to meet again, perhaps at future fairs, and I had a lot of good conversations with potential future collectors and collaborators.
I also learned a few things about what to do and what not to do and I think that I will be better positioned to do even better at my next fair. A few lessons learned include:
Probably the most important thing I learned is that it is very very important to seem professional. The DIY look isn’t cute. Hand-written signage takes the potential collector out of the realm of luxury where it makes sense to drop a few thousand dollars on a piece by an artist with zero history on the secondary market. Everything needs to be polished.
Overall, I’d count this fair as a success. So much so that I’ve already applied to participate in The Other Art Fair Los Angeles edition in March. Transportation and accommodation will be more of an issue, but I feel up to the challenge.
That’s about it. If you have any other questions feel free to drop a comment below.