The Affordable Art Fair Hampstead
I spent an immensely enjoyable day at the AAF Hampstead, with thanks to Alice Struthers. Great to reconnect with some of the agents and galleries, and to see what’s on in the market at the moment.
The format of the AAF has been enormously successful, now encompassing 15 fairs worldwide, it is clearly very appealing to buyers and it was great to see such a vibrant market and healthy sales. At the same time many galleries are closing, even Cork Street, the very home of art galleries, is threatened with redevelopment and closure. (www.savecorkstreet.com)
I passed a lot of the day talking to agents and gallery owners, and it is clear, that while many are modernising their approach to selling; by incorporating online sales and using social media, there are others that are struggling to do so. I get the impression that some galleries are intimidated by the openness of todays market, and the accessibility of their artists to their private clients. Exclusivity is a thing of the past, as almost every working artist’s contact details can be found within seconds on google.
I have first hand experience, as have several times been approached by potential buyers who have seen work marketed by a gallery representing me. (For the record I do not undercut my agents!)
However there is clearly a grey area and the solution largely rests on trust and honesty and transparent dialogue between an artist and those who represent him/her.
Equally an artist with a strong online presence, and healthy independent sales is a bonus, rather than a threat to a potential gallery, as harnessed together these attributes can only widen a client base, and increase publicity to both parties.
There are some fantastic agents and galleries out there, who support and encourage artists, and provide invaluable advice and opportunity to their clients. I believe it is a good thing the art market is being made more accessible, with schemes such as Own Art enabling even those with the tightest budget to purchase original work.