How to Get the Best Deal at an Art Fair

Galleries often save their newest, most exciting artworks for art fairs. So, whether you are attending a fair in person or browsing online through Artsy, you might find yourself competing with other buyers for the art you want. To ensure that you are the one taking your dream work home (without overspending), you can follow these recommendations.


Be the First

Art fairs first open their doors to VVIPs (like museum directors), then to VIPs (like seasoned collectors), and then to the general public. Those who are lucky enough to get there at the beginning will be able to beat the rush and express early interest in the works they want.

A week before the fair opens to VVIPs, you can begin exploring the fair on Artsy—and get in touch with exhibiting galleries in advance. Use this opportunity to start the conversation and gather more data points about the works being offered, so that you will have more time to make an informed decision about what to buy. If you find a work you love, you can even make the purchase before the fair opens to the public.


Build a Strong Relationship

One of the advantages of buying at art fairs is the opportunity to speak to many different gallerists about art. Gallerists spend every day researching artworks and supporting artists, and they can share an insider’s perspective on global art world trends. When you have a conversation with a gallery about a potential purchase, don’t hesitate to also ask about the artist’s practice, the gallery’s focus, or the art market at large. This is how you can begin to build a rewarding relationship with a gallery.

This relationship can pay off in the long-run. For instance, if there is competition over an artwork at a fair, the gallery will be more likely to offer the piece to you if you have a pre-existing relationship.


Be the Smartest Negotiator

Once you’ve expressed interest in a work—whether by placing an inquiry on Artsy or speaking with the gallery in person—ask about availability, price, and logistics. Does the quoted cost cover framing? Shipping? Insurance? If these benefits are not included, you can use this as leverage to bring down the price. Or, you can let the gallery know that you will only buy the work if shipping or framing is covered by the gallery.


Leave Your Contact Information

If you like an artwork but are not ready to buy it, leave your phone number with the gallery and ask to be contacted if another person expresses interest in the piece. Given the time-sensitivity of fair purchases, a phone call or text message (rather than an email) will often be the best way for you and the gallery to get in touch.

As the fair comes to an end, you may get a call if the work does not sell, and this is a great opportunity to get a good deal on price. Oftentimes, the gallery would rather sell the work at a discount than ship it back home.


Along the way, if you have any questions about buying from art fairs, contact our team of specialists at inquiries@artsy.net. Our specialists can support you throughout the purchasing process, whether advising on artwork pricing or recommending booths to visit.