Just because artworks are selling for $ millions at auction doesn mean you need that much money to buy original art. That the messagebehind the AAF Chinese-food-take-out-carton logo. Sunday, June 15th, found me at NYC's Altman Building for the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) 2008. The idea behind the fair is pure common sense and has me asking, Why didn't I think of that? Remove the things that keep many of us out of NYC's high-end art galleries, such as intimidation, high prices, and snobbery, and you have a sales venue that is accessible to everyone, from the first-time visitorandwindow-shopper,to the novice collectorandsavvy art aficionado. The AAF is the brainchild of British art enthusiast Will Ramsay. In the mid-1990s Ramsay noted the growth of interest in contemporary art, and sought a marketing strategy that would bring together artist and audience, much as the British retail chains Oddbins and Majestic Wine bring quality wine to the masses. Ramsay opened Will's Art Warehouse in 1996, a London-based gallery committed to promoting affordable original contemporary art, promoting up and coming artists and making contemporary art more accessible to the consumer. Prices range from £50 to £3000. The success of Ramsay's nontraditional approach toart salesledtoLondon first affordable art fair in 1999:AAF London. Ramsay persuaded multiple art galleries to exhibit side-by-side, creating an informal and accessible atmosphere. The AAF is now Britain's largest contemporary art fair, and has since successfully expanded to six cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bristol, England; Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia; and NYC. And just who is the typical customer? According to Ramsay: the customers are existing buyers, half are new buyers whose eyes have been opened by the art world and who want to buy into it, says Ramsay. just remove the fear factor. arrived early Sunday afternoon on the final day of NYC's fair. The hefty admission fee of $20 was reduced with a $5 discount coupon. Thousands of artworks were offered for sale for prices starting at $100 and not exceeding $10,000 (average price about $3,000). Judging by the constant activity at the wrapping table, sales appeared to be brisk. And while I had no way to measure sales volume, in 2004 London's AAF earned £3.4 million over four-days, or about $6.8 million. That a lot of artwork given the moderate pricing. Galleries and auction houses can seem intimidating and impenetrable-the AAF brings reasonably priced paintings, prints and sculptures to the masses. The fair also provides the opportunity for collectors tostart buying before an artist becomes popular. As Rosie Millard wrote in the New Statesman: one reason for the popularity of fairs is that they signal fun as well as trade. Lacking the perceived air of snobbery appear to be democratic arenas where fashionable people can chatter, observe and mingle with everyone else amid the favoured aesthetic of the in crows contemporary art. You don need to buy a painting; you don even need to know about paintings. And no one will look down on you if what you want to do is wander around and drink a smoothie. the fair makes an impressive 15% operating margin fueled by the admission fee and booth rentals that can exceed $12,000 for the four-day fair. And what about the art? The fair provided a veritable cornucopia of paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and paper art. There were thousands of artworks displayed by 70 exhibitorsfrom the US, Europe, Asia, Canada and South America. I found much to be admired and desired and enjoyed conversations withexhibition staff and dealers eager to extol the virtues of their artists. Just visit your local art sale. Although those multi-million $ headlines sure grab our attention. What I find interesting about this story is the convergence art economics. Exactly how much is an art work worth? If it takes an artist ten hours to paint a portrait, do we pay them $200? $2,000? $20,000? for their time effort? How can creativity be valued? I had an interesting conversation with a PhD college professor who was paid a hefty salary to teach three classes a week (three hours) plus prep time (three hours) plus office hours (three hours). That nine hours weekly for a full-time salary. As it was explained to me, the professor was paid for knowledge (PhD), skills and experience, or property Does the same apply to an artist? How do you value years of training experience? It got to be more than what the market will bear. Recent CommentsSet your bathroom th on Still Searching for That Speci title="Sherry" class="recentcommentsavatarend" style="height:48px; width:48px">Sherry on Cartoon criticismmaguire on A Girl Who Reads title="lista restaurante" class="recentcommentsavatarend" style="height:48px; width:48px">lista restaurante on I am Helveticaeliza on The Art of Australian Poetry id="text-5" class="widget widget_text">AwardsAwarded to us by Pen of Passion