How to prepare for an art fair

Participating in an art fair not only requires you to devote 100% of your attention to the actual event, but preparations are also important. From the logistics of artworks to the official documentation, there are many tasks to deal with. The better you are prepared, the more you can focus on your customers during the fair.

Preparations for an art fair sometimes seem to be a never-ending story. That’s why we have brought together the following to-do list. We hope it will help you get things done in more efficient way.

1. Make a list of artworks and prepare their labels

It is important to list those artworks you want to exhibit. Don’t forget about the related labels in the right language. There are many gallery management softwares that can help to do this job quickly without too much manual work.

2. Create presentation materials

Let’s have a look at those documents that you will possible need to carry with you:

– Reservation form
– Installment payment agreement
– Bill of sale (provided by the organizers of the fair)
– Invoice
– Certificate of authenticity

3. Documents required to conclude a deal

Detailed presentation materials are really helpful both for the gallery and its customers. On one hand, the information appearing in catalogues (e.g. a list of further artworks of a certain artist in various collections, a list of their exhibitions, etc.) increases the credibility of the artist(s), while, on the other hand, customers are able to place the piece(s) on display in the context of their oeuvre.

Presentation materials need to include:
– Catalogues
– CVs
– An illustrated list of the artworks on display

4. Take care of the furnitures

The arrangement of your booth reveals a lot about your gallery. Did you choose a table made of recycled materials or an antique bauhaus one? Is there a comfortable, elegant leather armchair or a sleek designer chair made of wood in your booth? Are your catalogues standing on a desk or rather on designated mobile holders? Picking your furniture and arranging your booth require some serious planning, since not only the works on display, but the whole interior has an effect on the viewer.

In case you are not able or simply do not want to bring your own furniture to the fair, a majority of them offer rental services.

5. Organize transportation

The protection of the artworks is of utmost importance when transporting them from one place to another. In order to prevent any kind of damage, you have to choose the most suitable way of packaging which depends on the mode of transportation:

– When choosing road transport, a simple bubble wrap should be enough, if you are working with professional art transporters.

– If you choose to transform the artworks by plane or some other method, a container made of wood or cardboard is required.    

When transporting works outside of the European Union, we would suggest to use the ATA Carnet, an international customs document that permits the tax-free and duty-free temporary export and import of goods for up to one year.    

+1. Last but not least, don’t forget to have a good night of sleep before the fair since you definitely won’t have time for that while the event goes on. If you choose to follow our advice regarding the preparations, fatigue will probably only kick in on the last day of the fair.

Ágnes Koller 
Curator of cARTc Gallery, 
Program Coordinator of Budapest Art Week