Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Why exhibit at an Art Fair? - A perspective from a recent graduate - Lauri Hopkins

Before applying for a stand at Palace Art and Craft Fair I worried about all the usual stuff; will I get accepted? How should I display my work? How will people react to my work? Will I sell anything? Will I enjoy it? But decided I had relatively little to lose so forced myself to put in an application. My reckoning was that at the very least I would gain further experience talking to people about my practice, something that you have to actively seek out after graduating, and it is far too easy to hide away from. 

I needn’t have worried, as my first experience of exhibiting at an Art Fair was hugely positive for a number of reasons…

The benefits actually began before I even arrived at the fair, as there is nothing like a deadline to stop me from putting off making those crucial decisions that gets work finished. Knowing that gallery owners, collectors, students and other artists were going to come up and talk to me about my work was nerve-racking but in a really good way.

Once at the fair setting up was relatively easy. The event is well organized, the other exhibitors were friendly, and by the time the private view came around I had met some lovely people that were going to help me through the art-fair-fatigue that came and went in waves over the course of the weekend.
 I was very lucky to cover my stand costs early in the weekend, and to go on to sell much more work throughout the weekend. Obviously this was fantastic, but the main benefits of having exhibited were the incredible contacts I made. Galleries, consultants, design companies, other artists looking to collaborate and the people at Artfinder approached me.  I’m particularly looking forward to working with the people at Duckett & Jeffreys, a great gallery that exhibits artists in a touring 1960s Sprite caravan.

The thing that no one tells you is that if the fair goes well, the weeks following it are even busier than the fair. I have spent most of the last two weeks responding to emails, arranging studio visits, planning my new website (I would recommend people do this before the fair), sorting out images for Artfinder and private collectors, updating my facebook page, the list goes on. But all of this stuff is great if it means you sell enough work to buy yourself more time to make work, which is what we all do this for I suppose.
 My advice to anyone contemplating taking part in their first Art Fair would be that Palace and Brighton are great, and that it is worth doing for the feedback and the contacts alone.  For recent graduates it could be an excellent bridge between University and being represented by galleries. Plus it’s fun, tiring, but fun.

Lauri Hopkins May 2013

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