Change the Way You Buy Art with Five Simple Questions
My mom came home from an art fair a few summers ago with a giant parcel in her backseat and a wild look in her eye.
Overjoyed to unveil her new treasure, she hauled the package on her back, plopped it in the living room, ripped off the packing paper and flipped it around for us daughters to see. “I’ll call her Carol!” she cried.
My mom is a talker. She could share her soul with a lamppost, which is what we all suspected was happening when she left for Art&Air – now the Webster Arts Fair – and came home nearly five hours later.
“I met the most wonderful woman,” she said. My sisters and I rolled our eyes. “She photographs these flowers and then paints over them. She told me all about it and we had the best conversation. I just love her work!”
We all had to admit it – the painting is very cool. It’s a detailed portrait of a yellow sunflower and it flows well with the rest of the decor. To this day, it hangs above my mom’s mantle and is still adoringly referred to as Carol, the name of the artist – and apparently my mom’s new best friend.
I love to tell that story because it reminds me that when you purchase work from an art fair, you’re also taking home a rich, personal experience.
An art fair is an open invitation to mingle with the artists, ask questions about their work and hear their stories. It’s a totally unique opportunity, and one you simply can’t get at the mall.
But you might need a little help to get the conversation going.
Keep these five comments and questions in mind as you mark your calendar for the 13th annual Webster Arts Fair. Artists love to tell their stories…and you just might come home with a ‘Carol’ of your own to treasure for years.
1. I love this painting. What can you tell me about it?
An open-ended question is a great conversation starter. Many Webster Arts Fair artists travel year-round showing their work and they’re prepared with an ‘elevator speech’ to share what they find most interesting about their work.
2. I’d love to know how it’s made. Can you tell me a bit about your process? Because many forms of fine art involve intricate and complex procedures, remember to keep it simple. I like how one curious fairgoer put it last year: “Can you explain it to me like you’re talking to a five year old?” The artist got a good laugh and was able to share her technique without getting into the nitty-gritty details.
3. I’d never think to put those materials together. How interesting! What are your inspirations? Artists tend to light up about their muses and inspirations. It's a great way to learn how to place their work in the right context and understand the concepts they’re working with – even if it requires a Google search later on!
4. I can tell this work means a lot to you. How’d you get into pottery? Art is always deeply personal - How could it not be? Feel free to ask about an artist’s story, but always take cues to stay within respectful boundaries.
5. I’d love to stay in touch. Could I get your contact information?
Ask for a link to the artist’s portfolio and email address. And while you’re at it, show them some love by sending out a Facebook post or Tweet featuring their work!
Now you’re inspired to buy some art, right? This is a great time of year to start rearranging furniture and making space for original, beautiful art. Out with the old and in with the new!
We can’t wait to see you at the Webster Arts Fair on June 3-5!