The art world can seem, to the outsider, like an impenetrable, unfamiliar and intimidating place. But it doesn't have to be like that. We believe that great art should play an important part in everyone's life.
The art world can seem to the outsider like a secretive, unfamiliar and intimidating place. But it doesn't have to be like that. We believe that great art should play an important part in everyone's life. To make that happen for you, we aim to make buying art at Cambridge Art Fair a safe and supportive experience for all, whether expert or novice.
Cambridge Art Fair offers you the opportunity to select and acquire great art and live with it, experience it in your own environment, get to know it, share it with others- all with the reassurance of buying from professional dealers and galleries who have spent years, decades, carefully selecting talented artists worthy of your investment.
The combined knowledge and experience of the galleries and dealers exhibiting at Cambridge Art Fair will ensure that you are able to find the perfect piece of art to suit you and your needs, even if you don’t know what you are looking for yet!
With around 40 professional galleries and dealers participating in Cambridge Art Fair, each showing a minimum of 3 artists, you'll be exposed to the work of at least 120 high-quality artists from around the UK and many from abroad.
Perhaps you need to source a large, contemporary sculpture for your office reception, a series of classic modern art prints for your conference room, or perhaps a beautiful landscape painting or sculpture for your home.
There is often high quality art from the 18th and 19th centuries, wonderful modern art from the 20th century and challenging, contemporary work by some of today’s leading international artists at a range of prices.
Many of our exhibitors offer leasing packages for businesses and many more participate in the Arts Council ‘Own Art’ scheme so you can pay for the art you love by instalments.
The secret is- there is no secret
The most important thing to know about buying art, either as a one off or as the start of a private collection, is that there's no list of things that you need to know before you jump in. If you see a piece of art that you absolutely love and you want to buy it, then buy it. You don't need to have credentials or a degree in Art History to start a collection, you just need to have a desire to collect and the means to pay for it.
The more you expose yourself to art and the 'art world', the more you will be able to 'evaluate' what is fundamentally good art, what suits your taste and how to build & develop your collection.
If you are collecting for investment purposes then you will need to research as much as possible and, more importantly perhaps, build relationships with good quality, experienced dealers and galleries who can advise you further.
If, however, you are collecting for your own enjoyment in the hope that your collection will increase in value over time, make sure that you like what you buy. It is you that will live with the art for many years so it has to be something that you are confident you will enjoy.
One of the major benefits of buying art from an art fair that has a selection process, like Cambridge Art Fair, is that you know that the work on display has already met stringent criteria based on quality. Even so, if you have questions about a piece of work or the artist responsible just ask the dealer or gallery selling the work- the chances are they have established a good relationship with the artist over a period of time and have invested themselves in that work because they believe it has merit.
Our galleries and dealers have years of experience and have probably heard every question that it is possible for a prospective purchaser to ask about the art they are selling. Don't be nervous about asking 'stupid' questions- there's no such thing!
You could ask questions about the artist:
Or you could ask about the work:
Set a budget
Like you would with any major purchase- set a budget. Be realistic with your budget- if you are looking for a huge, signature piece of real original art for your home then know that £200 will be unlikely to get you what you need! However, if you are looking for a lovely little framed print for a bright corner somewhere in your home then you will have lots of choice at £200.
The dealers and galleries at Cambridge Art Fair will be showing work that begins at a very affordable £75 and goes all the way up to £10,000 and beyond. Print browsers, like the one in the photo to the left, are great places to find affordable art as the work is unframed, allowing you the ability to frame it to suit you.
Be prepared for the possibility that you will see something at the art fair that you will absolutely love but that is completely beyond your budget. Decide what you will do in advance if that situation arises.
The 'Own Art' scheme
Many of our dealers and galleries participate in the Arts Council funded 'Own Art' scheme which gives you an opportunity to pay for the art you love in 10 interest free instalments.
We encourage those dealers and galleries to put a small sign up in their stands indicating that they are part of the scheme, but if you don't see a sign- ask anyway. Don't miss the 'How To Buy Art' talk on Saturday which is co-presented by a representative from the Own Art scheme.
Know your own 'taste'
As mentioned above, if you are collecting for your own enjoyment in the hope that your collection will increase in value over time, make sure that you like what you buy. It is you that will live with the art for many years so it has to be something that you are confident you will enjoy.
There is a fantastic selection of art available to buy at Cambridge Art Fair, so you could, in fact, come to the art fair with no knowledge whatsoever, spend the day talking to the experienced dealers and galleries who are taking part. Look at their portfolios and identify a piece of work (or several) that you would love to take home.
However, if you can, spend time before visiting the art fair exploring different styles and periods, researching artists and exposing yourself to art. Visit local museums and galleries to see what appeals to you. You might find that a certain colour resonates with you or that you have a penchant for abstracted landscapes.
The simple act of looking at art will enable you to identify what art you like and, therefore, what art you should buy. You can educate yourself and develop your taste over a period of time but it should always come down to whether or not you actually like a piece of art.
Prints often offer an affordable option when buying art but it's not quite as simple as buying a reproduction of an image. There are many different types of print: engravings, lithographs, screen prints, aquatints, linocuts and woodblock prints are the most common types.
For several of those methods, the artist uses a specific method to create an original image on a surface like wood, metal or stone, applies colour and then creates a print onto paper. These types of print are still produced by the artist's hand and will, most likely, be limited to a small run.
There are other types of print that do not necessarily involve the artist in the reproduction process, such as lithographs and giclée prints (digital prints using inkjet printers). Lithographs are traditionally seen as the 'acceptable' way to reproduce original art (so long as they are strictly editioned) and giclées are yet to receive acceptance by much of the industry. Always ask what type of print it is before you buy it.
It is important to only buy limited edition prints, whether lithograph, giclée or any of the 'artist hand' methods. We impose strict edition limits for work shown at Cambridge Art Fair: sculpture is a maximum edition of 25, photography must be limited to 50 prints and all other prints must be in editions of 100 or less. Mass produced, unlimited prints are not acceptable.