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How to Build an Art Collection from the Director of the Affordable Art Fair

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The Affordable Art Fair is an annual New York City event where a diverse array of affordable contemporary art from around the world is showcased and sold. The fair is scheduled for April 3-6 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea with pieces ranging in price from $100 to $10,000. To tell us more about the 15th annual event and how we can start building our own art collection, we turned to the fair's director, Cristina Salmastrelli.

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theFashionSpot: What would you tell someone who doesn't know much about art looking to get educated on some of the basics?

Cristina Salmastrelli: The best way for you to learn more about art it to stroll the aisles of an art fair. One’s art education should be based on works that you are immediately attracted to. When a piece catches your eye, go up to it, examine it and then turn to the exhibitor and start asking questions. If you keep eyeing photograph after photograph, then you should probably focus on learning more about photography, for example. From there, buy a book on the history of photography, visit local photography galleries and then go to more fairs.

If everything is catching your eye, here is a great way to narrow it down: Go into your closet, look at your clothes. Are your clothes bright colors? Or are they all neutrals? Mixed Prints? Are they made from soft and flowing fabrics? Or are they solid and structured? Take your tastes from the fashion world and transfer them over to the art world. After all, fashion is wearable art. If your clothes are structured, then the photograph by Irene Suchocki, Color of Cold, (represented by ARTSTAR) would be excellent for you.

tFS: What are some tips for people looking to build an art collection on a limited budget?

CS: Once you figure out the type or types of art you want to collect, concentrate on your budget. Figure out what you would be comfortable spending on a piece of artwork and only focus on the artworks that fit in your budget. Affordable Art Fair has original contemporary works by living artists from $100-$10,000. Half of all artworks are under $5000. All of the works we advertise are under $1500.

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tFS: When shopping for art, are there any ways to gauge whether the prices are fair?

CS: This is a process that is up to the galleries and their artists. If you have a question of how a piece of artwork is priced, ask the gallery.

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tFS: How do you go about finding up-and-coming artists?

CS: It’s very important to the Affordable Art Fair to highlight the next generation of artists. Every edition we also have a Recent Graduate Exhibition, which is dedicated to artists that have just graduated from art school. This edition, Gabriel de Guzman, the curator of Visual Arts at Wave Hill in the Bronx, is our Recent Graduates Curator. He will showcase four recent graduates, Sara Jimenez, Russell Perkins, Jose Antonio Ojeda and Julie Kumar, all which have graduated with a BFA or MFA within the last three years from an NYC art school. As well, our exhibitors are always on the lookout for new and emerging talents in the art world. It’s wonderful to have such an international group of exhibitors (50% are from overseas) that brings a diverse mix of emerging talents from around the world.

tFS:When you're looking for new talent, what are some of the things you look for?

CS: Passion.

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tFS: How did the affordable art fair come about?

CS: In 1996, founder Will Ramsay opened Will’s Art Warehouse in London to bridge the public’s increasing interest in contemporary art and London’s highbrow gallery scene focusing on relatively unknown artists not carrying a premium for reputation. His gallery’s focus and mission then inspired him to take his approach to the next level, and three years later, in 1999, the Affordable Art Fair was born. Today, the Affordable Art Fair now takes place in cities including Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, New York, Milan, London, Singapore, Hamburg, Mexico City, Seattle, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Maastricht. Globally, over 1.4 million people have visited an Affordable Art Fair and purchased over $316 million worth of art.

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tFS: Can you highlight some up-and-coming artists we should have our eyes on?

CS: This edition we have a great lineup of programs that will be featuring artists that are showing at the Affordable Art Fair. The Life of an Artist – A Panel Discussion Moderated by Tze Chun of Uprise Art, this panel will give you insight into the lives of three young artists, Jen Wink, Ashok Sinha and Matt Neumann, whose work is on show at this spring’s fair. You’ll learn about the art school experience, how they secured their first shows and attention from commercial galleries and the interesting relationship between artist and gallery. We are also thrilled to welcome Gabriel de Guzman, Curator of Visual Arts at Wave Hill, as the guest curator of our Recent Graduates Exhibition at the spring 2014 fair. The exhibition, titled Material Essence, features new artists who engage with materials in exciting ways. Gabriel will be leading an in-depth discussion of the artists he has selected, including Sara Jimenez (finalist in Bravo’s TV series Work of Art, The Next Great Artist).

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