How to Prepare for Your First Art Fair

When you’re exploring the thousands of artworks at an art fair, it can be easy to miss out on new pieces by your favorite artist or standout booths.  

To maximize your time at the fair, consider taking 10 minutes to plan your visit ahead of time. Here’s how you can get started.

Step 1: Preview the Fair Online

Starting the week before an art fair, you can browse Artsy’s online preview and “save” artworks to your profile that you will want to see in person.

If you find a work you like, you can contact the gallery to learn more about it—or even purchase the work before the fair. (If you don’t act quickly, the work might be scooped up by another eager collector during the first few opening hours of the fair.)


Step 2: Register for Events

Fairs also host a variety of programs, such as artist talks, art market panels, and curator tours. These events are great opportunities to meet interesting artists, gallerists, and collectors from all over the world.

You can find information about these programs on the fair’s website. It’s best to research these programs before you go to the fair, as you might want to schedule your visit accordingly.


Step 3: Download the App

Walking through a fair, you will discover new artists whose names you will want to remember. As you go, you can take images of artworks, labels, and booth numbers to store this information on your phone.

You can also easily keep track of these finds by downloading the Artsy app. Through the app, you can “follow” the artists you like when you’re at the fair so that you can learn more about them when you get home and get notified whenever new works by those artists become available.


Step 4: Get Your Pass Early

Passes to art fairs can range from $20 to $200, depending on the type of fair and your level of access. For example, tickets to the show’s vernissage or opening night will be more expensive than a day pass. Many fairs also offer a selection of more affordable options, such as special discounts for students, seniors, and those who buy in advance.

If you have bought from a gallery that is exhibiting at the fair, you might be in luck. Galleries will often offer complimentary passes to their loyal clients, especially if you reach out a few weeks before the fair.


Step 5: Browse Social Media

Once the fair begins, you can also search for the fair’s hashtag or geotag on Instagram, as the most talked about works at the fair will often be the most photographed. With this research, you’ll be sure not to miss the fair’s best booths.


Step 6: Pack a Bag

Before visiting a fair, be sure to pack a water bottle and a snack. When you look at art for hours, it’s common to get “fair fatigue”—and once you spot the long lines and hefty prices at the fair’s food stands, you’ll be happy you came prepared.


If you have any questions about buying art at art fairs, you can contact our team of specialists at inquiries@artsy.net.