Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? You have an exciting background as a quadrilingual entrepreneur and curator.
I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Both my parents were creative; my father in the fashion business and my mother an artist. I had the chance to be around a lot of creativity in my formative years.
You founded the Accessible Art Fair in 2006. How did it come about and what was the main idea behind it? How has it changed in the last 13 years?
In 2006, there were no fairs for artists without gallery representation to sell their work. Art Fairs were reserved for artists with representation and I remember at the time thinking, ‘what happens to all these artists’, ‘where shall they go to have their work seen’, which is when I decided to start the Accessible Art Fair, giving the opportunity to artists to have a high level platform in which to have their work seen by an art buying crowd.
When you first started ACAF what were the first reactions to an art fair where artists represent themselves cutting out galleries from the process?
There were many different reactions from various groups of people. Generally, people applauded the concept because it was innovative and disruptive. At the time, disruption was a novelty so I was seen as someone with guts! There were obviously those who challenged the concept, as there were so many fairs that have come and gone. I think now, after 13 years, ACAF is seen as not taking the place of galleries but rather as a stepping stone for artists to have their work out there. I never set out to challenge galleries, but rather to offer an opportunity to get more artists seen.
Since 2006 a lot has changed in the art world in general as well. A shift is happening between players of the art market that also affects art fairs. Traditional art fairs are not the sole players anymore. How do you see the future route of the art fair model? Are the smaller, more progressive art fairs are just additions to the traditional way or are they going to change the playfield altogether?
I think there is room for anyone who tries to promote arts and culture with head and heart. Things are changing in the art world and I see that this change is an evolution. The art buyer or consumer of culture wants intelligent choice, so if the traditional gallery and the traditional art fair don’t offer enough, then the consumer will go elsewhere. I think that the lasting models are the ones that really can evolve with the times, which is what I try to do with my fair.
Who are the ACAF buyers, what are their motivation to buy art from your artists?
There is no one profile of our visitors and buyers. We see that many people come to buy their first work of art but also many come to discover new talent. As these artists are vetted by our jury comprising from leaders in the art world, what people feel is although many are emerging and self representing, what they are getting is a seal of approval from major players. Buying from the artist at ACAF also means not paying any commission as in the traditional gallery and from some art fairs, so 100% of the proceeds go to the artists, which sometimes means 50-60% less.
Here at ArtConscious we work with many self-representing artists as well. What can you tell them about your selection process? How can they grab a seat at the table, so to speak? What aspects do you consider when you are looking at an applicant?
We pride ourselves on having some real leaders from the art world present at our selection process. We work with Simon de Pury, Shaune Arp, Kenny Schachter, to name a few. The artists are required to send us images of their work for review. We base our selection on the work and not on their education or where they have shown before.
In general, what advice do you give to the ACAF artists in self-management? How can they represent themselves and their works the best way possible?
The best advice I can give is to have the best Instagram page possible, it is amazing how many people can be reached through this medium. I would also suggest that they show at at least 2 fairs per year to really understand their public.
What can we expect from this year’s ACAF?
Great selection of artists, art tours, and of course Simon de Pury DJ session on October 12.
Do you have any specific plans or goals for the future of ACAF?
I am really happy with where we are at at the moment. Great jury, great artists and great venues.