Selecting work for London Art Fair

Selecting work for London Art Fair Axisweb at the London Art Fair 2012

We often get asked how we select the artists we take to Art Fairs, so here Ruth explains the process and talks about our stand at London Art Fair 2013.

Over the last month we’ve been busy planning our stand at London Art Fair. We often get asked about how we select the artists we show. With over 2,500 artists in the directory and the possibility of only showing a handful, the short answer is that the selection process is always very difficult and involves much debate amongst the curatorial panel.

Selecting works is a long process. In the early stages, the curatorial panel meets and draws up a long-list of potential artists. We try to select a broad range of artists, at different stages of their career, working in different mediums. Which works will make people pause to have a look? Are there works that reward the viewer for staying a little longer? As time goes on and we learn more about the availability of artists’ work.

The list gradually narrows.

Some of the things we think about when looking for work include content, medium, scale (you have to carefully plan the stand in advance so you know what goes where for lighting and power), whether work will sell (it’s a selling fair after all and people come to buy), how transportable is the work and will it survive a week on a stand whilst thousands of people pass through? We also consider how complex the work is to install (you don’t get long setting up) and, finally, whether it all looks good together.

Money also has to be mentioned, as having a stand at an art fair is expensive. We have to factor in transportation, insurance, lighting, electrics, technicians and staff time alongside loads of other bits and pieces. Can we show everything within budget?

Finally, we’re keen not just to use the stand to promote the work we’ve selected. We’ve got a huge directory of fantastic artists so we spend a lot of time thinking about the ways we can promote all our members. This year we are installing a digital display which illustrates the services we offer and how you can find artists in our directory. There will be an area of the stand where you can browse the website, an event or two, designed to raise awareness of Axisweb, and of course, we’re always on hand to talk to visitors and show them the website.

It’s a tricky process, but one that we really enjoy. We often uncover artists whose work we may not be able to include on this occasion, but whom we keep in mind for other projects. See which artists we have selected for 2013 here and those we showed in 2012 here.

We’ll be at stand P27 in the Art Projects space, and we really hope you’ll come along and see us while we’re there – it’s always great to meet our members face-to-face and that’s another reason we do it.

Contributed by Ruth Wilbur
Ruth is Projects and Outreach Coordinator at Axisweb.

Ruth's staff profile on Axisweb