Finding new art and fabulous artists for client projects is no easy task. It’s not impossible, but trekking from gallery to gallery, chatting up artist after artist... it can be time-consuming and exhausting. And when shopping for projects, time is money.
Art fairs however—which come in all shapes and sizes—are worth the time to explore. Why? We’re glad you asked.
Art fairs save you time and impress your clients
You need an amazing piece for that hotel rebrand, but where to find it?
You could spend weeks gallery hopping or you could see everything in one fell swoop.
While large fairs can feel overwhelming at first, even a few hours poking around can introduce you to pieces that would have taken days the old fashioned way. Small fairs, while less diverse, can still introduce you to a wealth of special pieces.
“Clients expect you to surprise them with finds they’d never discover on their own,” says Sean Juneja, co-founder of Decor Aid.
It’s easy to forget just how much art is out there at a variety of price points, styles and tastes. Art fairs shake up our default preferences and open up a world we might never have otherwise found or considered.
Art fairs feed your inspiration
Interior designers are artists too, and all artists need inspiration.
More than finding a piece to buy or a curator to schmooze, art fairs provide infinite inspiration, usually from unexpected places. “I discover new color combinations, products, and materials, motivating me to push my imagination further,” says designer Terina Nicole McKinney.
“I attend as many as I can find,” adds Melinda Peters Elliott of Fine Designs & Interiors. “I’ve been in business for 24 years, but the life blood of my work is being inspired by all sorts of things.”
Kristen Cochran of Meyer Davis agrees, “Artists not only inspire us visually but also with the materials they work with and how they create, inspiring details in my interior projects.”
Art fairs introduce you to new artists
Juneja says art fairs have been “invaluable” in his work. But he’s not going to the fairs you’d expect. “Everyone talks about Art Basel and Freize London,” he says, “but my favorite all-time experience was at Material Art Fair in Mexico City.”
While the Mexico fair isn’t as well-known, Juneja says he found incredible emerging artists who have later gone on to international acclaim.
“If you work with a relatively unknown artist, you can commission, which then makes you more valuable to clients,” he adds. “When I was just starting out, I commissioned a piece from the material show in Mexico. The piece inspired and informed the design for the entire living room. My client was thrilled. After that, three of her friends became my clients.”
Art fairs present a unique opportunity for interior designers. Since most fairs feature a range of work, you can discover up-and-comers as well as more established artists.
Art fairs keep you on top of trends
David Schneider, who’s been to countless shows in California and Seattle says he loves seeing what artists are doing and “how their work reflects the current styles in interior design and fashion.”
Along with seeing what new methods and materials are used, Schneider loves that art fairs represent larger cultural trends, the art reflecting the time in which it was created.
Nashville designer Jessica Davis loves that art she finds at fairs often puts her ahead of the pack. “I’m always looking for original pieces that are not readily available to others.”
Whether you have a specific project in mind or just need a shot of inspiration, art fairs are incredible resources for interior designers. These important events bring together different aspects of the art world and design industry by allowing us to motivate and support each other.