Entrepreneur Ryan Stanier had the vision to connect underrepresented artists directly to art buyers without the intermediary of a gallery, and in 2011 The Other Art Fair was born. Since its inception, the Fair has gone from strength to strength, being hosted in 12 cities around the globe, with Brooklyn and London having two fairs a year and forming a partnership with Art juggernaut Saatchi Art to facilitate the promotion and sale of art all year-round.
I had this idea of taking these underrepresented artists and putting them altogether in a room, and making it more of an event. The key was that it was an un-intimidating environment, and a great experience for everyone
Even with the presence of a pandemic, The Fair kept its momentum by launching its virtual editions. Allowing visitors to access The Other Art Fair online by navigating through a three-dimensional version of the Fair featuring curated booths and the ability to speak with artists in real-time, interact with installations, as well as getting involved in the Fair’s workshops.
We managed to catch up with Ryan to learn more about the Fair and his pick of artists to watch.
The Other Art Fair is on from 1st July to 4th July 2021 at West Handyside Canopy, 1 Wharf Road Coal Drops Yard London N1C 4BZ and you can purchase tickets here
Q: For those who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself?
A: My name is Ryan Stanier and I’m the Founder of The Other Art Fair. I started the fair 10 years ago back in 2011 at the Oxo Tower on the Southbank. Since then we have hosted 43 fairs across 8 cities in London, Bristol, New York, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Sydney, Melbourne and this year we launch in Toronto. We have worked with over 2,000 artists and sold over 30,000 artworks.
Q: The Other Art Fair is different to most other art fairs as it’s tailored towards individual artists rather than galleries. How did the idea for the fair first develop?
A: I knew quite a few artist friends who were attempting to promote their work by setting up their own individual exhibitions, they would invite their friends and their own networks, and as fun as that was, it wasn’t progressing their career.
These are artists that wanted to get in front of a curator, get seen, and by themselves it was extremely difficult. So I had this idea of taking these underrepresented artists and putting them altogether in a room, and making it more of an event. The key was that it was an un-intimidating environment, and a great experience for everyone.
Q: Can You describe the overall visitor’s experience at The Other Art Fair?
A: Visitors – collectors, or those that love art and are looking to find out more – come to the Fair, they meet the artists directly, learn about their practice and their influences, but also get involved in and enjoy our features programme. Our features can include anything from tattoo pop-ups, interactive installations, bespoke murals, guest artist exhibitions, and more. The experience is about enjoying and discovering art differently, it’s not just anOther art fair.
Q: How did you develop the relationship with Saatchi Art, and what does their partnership bring to the fair?
A: In 2016 we partnered with leading online art gallery Saatchi Art – and the relationship is great for artists and visitors alike. It enables us to promote and sell art year-round, and there is great synergy between our in-real-life Fairs, and Saatchi art selling online. In 2020, we launched the Online Studios, which is a curated platform for our exhibitors, which includes curated collections, artist interviews, Fair Director picks and more, and so this gives visitors the opportunity to browse a curated selection of artists, as they would at the Fair.
Q: You have now introduced virtual editions of the fair; what can we expect to experience?
A: Virtual Editions is an exciting addition to the brand. It is everything we all love about The Other Art Fair, from wherever you are. Visitors can navigate through a three-dimensional environment, with curated booths, chat to artists in real-time, interact with installations, get involved in our workshops, enjoy videos in our screening room, and of course have access to buying affordable, original artworks from home.
Q: The fair has a selection committee that changes each year. Can you tell us how that process works and its effect on the fair from one year to the next?
A: Yes the select committee is key to each edition, and it ensures a fresh selection of artists for each Fair. Selection can be important for engaging with the local community too – we are now in 8 different cities and so it’s important that we listen and learn from the people on the ground, and who have a good eye for those rising art stars. So in this regard, selection is based on who has a good presence in the city, and it can also be based on who we are working with for that particular Fair. For example, for our London July Fair we work closely with Central Saint Martins and so for our first Fair there in 2019 the programme director was on our Selection Committee.
Q: The fair is present at different locations; since you started, which fair has been your most memorable and why?
A: There has been so many memorable moments, it’s hard to pick one! The first Fair in Brooklyn May 2017 was memorable, it was our first U.S. Fair and so it really paved the way for the success of that market. Our London team went to the Fair, we were even joined by some of our favourite London artists. Since then a number of our artists have travelled to multiple Fairs, and so there’s been a great continuity of community across our Fairs. That particular Fair was also the first time we worked with Bluestone Babe who ran our tattoo pop-up, a feature which has been distinctive to the Fair, in offering that alternative experience for visitors.
Q: Covid ground all art fairs and events to halt. In your opinion, do you think art events will go back to business as usual, or will we see different strategies implemented?
A: Different strategies will definitely be implemented, and they already have! Art Fairs and the art world in general is moving in a different, new, exciting direction, but no matter how good the zoom calls, or virtual experiences are, in real life Fairs are here to stay. We pride ourselves on a great in person experience, and that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Q: Are there any artists you are incredibly excited about or ones to watch?
A: With over 110 artists in this upcoming edition of The Other Art Fair London, there’s loads of choose from. Some that I would love to highlight are…
Vanessa Endeley is a london-based, Lagos-born photographer who adds such vibrancy to her portraits, they’re really quite striking – her distinctive motive is covering the figures eyes with a colour stripe.
Phoebe Boddy is also one one to look out for. She combines food and flavour and transports the viewer with her fun, quirky paintings.
London-based artist Ben Wakeling creates compelling and engaging abstract compositions. As well as working as a full time artist, Ben is an artist for the NHS, delivering an expressive arts programme where he is referred patients from secure units for mental health. He exhibits works from NHS patients in his innovative art gallery, Outsider Gallery.
London based artist Kay Gasei has a completely unique style guiding his surreal, figurative drawings. Depicting recurring figures and motifs, Kay’s work can be interpreted in many different ways and never fails to peak the viewer’s curiosity.
Beth Blackburn’s ceramic sculptures really highlight the malleability and tactility of her primary medium, clay. Working the clay to process her own emotions and filtering thoughts, Beth creates tangible, solid forms of the ever-changing complexity of human nature.