October in London is the month of (increasingly) freezing temperatures and of what we like to call the Frieze Frenzy. Frieze London and Frieze Masters represent the largest art fair featuring contemporary and living artists in London, attracting collectors, curators and dealers across the globe. Over the course of the week long fair, numerous deals are brokered, artists attract followers for their work, and several rise to become ‘star du jour’ in what is an internationally recognised and sought after event in the art world.
So – how can artists and buyers take advantage of the art fair phenomenon and jump on the fair train before it leaves?
If you’re lucky enough nab a spot as an artist at either Frieze London or Frieze Masters, you’re one third of the way there. With so many art fairs out there, it’s crucial that you pick the right fairs to exhibit at – shabby, unreputable art fairs can drag down your brand and following.
With art fairs such as Frieze displaying a multitude of good pieces, never forget to stand out, which may be difficult if you’ve been designated the dark space behind the broom cupboard. Always negotiate for prime positioning, with clear sight lines, good natural lighting, and plenty of space around your piece(s).
Getting ‘the nod’ to exhibit at a coveted fair, for many artists, is ‘the moment’. But before you start spending your hard earned moolah on celebratory Veuve Clicquot, remember that the cost of displaying at an art fair can be substantial, and if badly planned, could result in you returning to your studio post-event feeling like the token person on a night out that couldn’t handle their alcohol. Hungover, hungry, tired, broke, sad. In essence, an utterly, truly, broken man. Make sure you consider the time, costs and manpower of managing booth setup, daily tear downs and restocks in all weather conditions. Subject to the size of your pieces, would renting an RV (which can double up as transport and accommodation) be cheaper than hiring a truck or trailer? Or will you require professional shipping if you are based overseas? Always remember that there is life after the fair, and if you need to continue producing art during the fair, can you afford to return to your studio post-event and replenish inventory then?
What began as an ‘alternative’ art fair, Frieze has now become very mainstream and has revolutionarised the art industry. As Frieze moves forward, we wonder whether it will start including more international artists, to ensure that there is no repetition and to enable artists from India and Asia to also obtain some exposure? Will you be Friezing this year?