If you’re looking to decorate those walls without bursting your budget, you’re in luck; the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is back for its third run this year. Featuring thousands of original artworks from both new and established international artists, and a new dedicated area for inspiring talks and artist demonstrations, as well as the Children’s Art Studio, Creative Workshop and Young Talent Hong Kong exhibition, the popular three-day event promises to be bigger and better than ever. Here’s your handy guide to making the most of it, including tips for choosing art, plus a glimpse at the gamut of pieces you’ll find.
Created to bring art to everyone in an accessible way, the AAF was founded in London 15 years ago, and has become a popular, much-anticipated event for both art novices and seasoned collectors alike, as it provides a platform in which visitors can buy and learn about art in a laid-back, pressure-free environment.
AAF debuted in Hong Kong in 2013 and features an ever-growing roster of participating galleries and creative talents; there are over 130 international galleries this time around, featuring an extensive range of styles and mediums, from photography, drawing and painting to sculpture, street art and contemporary calligraphy; uniquely, the original works of hundreds of emerging and established artists will hang side by side, further underscoring the AAF’s mantra, “art for everyone”.
The best bit? All pieces are priced between HK$1,000 and $100,000, and for those looking to stick strictly within the three-digit price range, the “Under $10,000 Wall” brings together a specially curated assortment of even more wallet-friendly finds. With an onsite wrapping services, pieces can be taken home on the day.
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TIPS OF THE TRADE
No matter how experienced you may be at buying art, selecting the perfect piece can be overwhelming. We asked AAF director STEPHANIE KELLY to share some pointers on how best to prepare for big event.
What makes the Affordable Art Fair concept so unique?
The fact that it provides a fantastic learning ground for first-time buyers interested in contemporary art and, who quite often, become future collectors. It’s a relaxed and easy platform to view a great variety of art under one roof, where you can meet the galleries and sometimes the artists themselves. With growing affluence in Asia, coupled with a growing interest in collecting, the AAF is becoming a trusted resource for people to come and immerse themselves in contemporary art. But it’s not just about new collectors; many experienced collectors come to test their eyes and see if they can find an up-and-coming artist who they can track in the future.
The AAF has brought, and continues to bring, a new generation of collectors into the market here, breaking down barriers that art is only for the rich, so that new buyers are not intimidated. In doing so, it has initiated an important change to the Hong Kong art market by making art accessible to everyone.
What are some important things to consider before heading to the event?
To take full advantage of all the AAF has to offer, check the programming schedule, available on our website (affordableartfair.com), so that you’re sure not to miss anything interesting. We are offering a number of art talks on topics such as how to begin an art collection, art appreciation and how to frame and preserve works. There are also live demos and workshops in the multi-disciplinary workshop area so you can learn, hands-on, how to create an artwork as well as our popular Children’s Art Studio.
Also, don’t miss our Friday night Art After Dark party, which is a fun night of live art performances and demonstrations, and our Young Talent Hong Kong exhibition that will provide great insight into the up-and-coming local artists featured at the AAF. With advance planning, you can make the most of your time.
More helpful hints
* Do a little pre-fair prep by measuring the spaces you’re looking to fill
* Wear comfortable shoes for walking
* Pace yourself – don’t rush!
How do you know when you’ve found “the one”?
It’s a good idea to take time to consider an artwork that has caught your eye. When you step away from an artwork for a while and you just cannot get it out of your head, you know you have found “the one”. However, there is also an argument that can be made for buying “spontaneously” – you fall in love with an artwork the minute you see it, and you have to have it; quite often, the first reaction is the correct one.
What are some common mistakes people make when choosing artwork?
* Not reserving an artwork they’re in love with and, by the time they come back to buy it, it has already sold! Remember to ask the gallery to hold the piece for you while you think about the purchase; they can call you if they have another buyer.
* Buying an artwork that they’re not truly in love with, or are not really connected to; emotional attachment is very important.
* Putting an ill-suited or cheap looking frame on an artwork. The frame should do justice to the piece and should be a part of the investment, both financially and emotionally.
What advice can you offer to those looking to start a collection?
The most important thing is a desire to learn and a passion to collect what you love! If you develop a love for art collecting, there are many books that you can read and art talks you can attend, such as the ones that we offer at the AAF.
Stephanie’s tips for first-time art buyers
* Don’t be afraid to ask for more information about the artist and their techniques.
* Ask for a copy of the artist’s CV; it’s useful to see at what stage in their development they are and if they have had any solo shows, etc.
* Ask to see other examples of the artist’s work. It is a good sign if you like their whole body of work and, although this is not essential, it can indicate that the artist is consistent in their output.
* Many galleries will be happy for you to pay in instalments – just ask.
* Two or three works can look as effective in a space as one large work. Ask the seller about how best to hang and light the work.
* A good frame can greatly enhance a picture; a bad one can ruin it. If the work is unframed then ask about framing – the gallery may offer a framing service.
* If a painting you like is over your budget then ask to see other works by the same artist.
* If buying for investment, only look at original works by established artists with a track record of increases in actual sale prices and growing popularity.
This year’s Affordable Art Fair will be held from 22 to 24 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Hall 3B and 3C), 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai. For a full lineup and list of participating galleries, visit affordableartfair.com/hongkong.