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The Benefits of Attending a Local Art Fair

As the brisk winter weather in Chicago shows pockets of springlike temperatures, I am filled with excitement as I peruse the listing of upcoming art and street fairs throughout the area. Every year my husband and I look forward to spending this time together viewing the collections of local artists.  Visiting the fairs allows us the opportunity to enjoy the weather, each other’s company and gives us something else to converse about besides the kids. Before heading to the local fair, there a few things to consider.

Why attend a local art fair?A couple walks hand in hand down a small town city sidewalk

We first began attending local art fairs when our children were small as a way to get out of the house. We enjoyed the chance it allowed us to talk with our kids about the colors and methods used to create the art pieces.  It was fun to see who could be the first person to name famous artists that have completed similar works of art.  As our daughters grew older and got involved in their own activities, my husband and I continued to attend art fairs to take in the culture, support local artists and to purchase items to decorate our home and office to remind us of the outing.

 What to expect from a local art fair

While no two art fairs are alike, you can expect to view a variety of art pieces. Fairs may include metal or clay sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and drawings, to name a few. Oftentimes, the artwork will reflect the travels of a particular artist, architecture they are passionate about, or glimpses of nature. Many local artists enjoy sharing their story behind creating each piece.

People walking around an art festival

Navigating the art fair display booth

Start walking the art fair on one side and work in a circular motion around the fair.  This method helps you cover the booths in an efficient manner.  Expect to spend at least 45 minutes to an hour at the fair. Some larger fairs may take significantly longer. Along your walk be prepared to see all kinds of different shapes and sizes of displays.

Each artist goes into great detail in creating the right looking booth to attract customers. The displays range from painted PVC pipes, wire racks or even wood pallets. The best display we’ve seen were rolling walls. At the end of the fair, the artist just closed up the accordion-like walls and rolled them right into their truck. We were drawn to booths with these walls because the fabric walls accentuated the artwork.

Is the art available for purchase at an art fair?

Most definitely! Start by asking the artist a little about the piece before you discuss pricing. This helps in forming a relationship with the artist. You can start by asking simple questions like; What was the inspiration for creating the art? How long did it take them to complete the piece? Are there others like it? After showing interest in the piece, you can begin to discuss the price. Many artists are open to negotiating the price but remember a lot of work has been put into creating the art.

What to wear to an art fair

Be prepared to do a lot of walking. It is important to wear comfortable shoes and loose and cool clothing if the art fair is outdoors.  Also, be prepared for all kinds of weather so packing an umbrella or a light sweater in a tote is key along with carrying a beverage to stay hydrated.

How can you find an art fair near you?

Your local newspaper is a great place to start looking for an art fair nearby.  You can also try websites like festivalnet, artfaircalendar and fairsandfestivals to locate art shows.

By attending a local art fair, you will discover many things about yourself.  Which colors appeal to you and which colors don’t?  Where would you like to travel?  What genre of art most appeals to you?  or What style of art you have in common with your friends or family?  Most of all, it is important to get out and enjoy the art around you. Take in the culture and explore new things.  Do you have ideas on local art fairs or what people should expect? Share them on Twitter or Instagram @Screenflex.

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