Ryan Stanier and Jessica Chow; The Other Art Fair

On Sunday 25th March Art on a Postcard will be holding our first Secret Auction of 2018 at The Other Art Fair. We were delighted to get the opportunity to speak to Ryan Stanier, founder, and Jessica Chow, the UK Fair manager. 

Presented by Saatchi Art, The Other Art Fair is the UK's leading artist fair to discover and buy art directly from the very best emerging artistic talent. With bi-annual fairs strongly established in London, The Other Art Fair has grown both in the UK and abroad with editions now in Bristol, Sydney, Melbourne, Brooklyn and Los Angeles, with more to come.

This Spring 2018 (22-25 March) TOAF returns to Central London's historic Victoria House, presenting a variety of hand picked works that span all mediums, by 130 contemporary artists chosen by a committee of art industry experts. Celebrated for its unique and immersive visitor experience, The Other Art Fair will continue to delight and inspire our visitors with appearances from a distinguished Guest Artist, interactive theatre performances, live music, a mouth-watering restaurant and bar area, and much more...

How and why did The Other Art Fair come about?

RS: I don’t have an art background, but became interested in art by being constantly surrounded by friends who are artists. I saw my friends struggle to produce an exhibition: it could be an amazing show, but nowhere accessible with little exposure. I also had lots of friends just starting to buy flats and houses, so wanting to buy art, but not knowing where to buy it. I wanted to help out and ended up setting up a pop up gallery in Coven Garden in 2009. I realized after a while that I didn’t want to be a gallerist. My background in events gave me the idea to create a fair for artists, without galleries being involved. And there became The Other Art Fair.

In what ways does The Other Art Fair create the ‘unique and immersive visitor experience’?

JC: We try to bring an element of the ‘unexpected’; something you wouldn’t usually find at an art fair. So alongside our exhibiting artists there is always a programme of features to create this experience – something that visitors can get involved in, that might challenge their expectations. For example, working with immersive theatre company Non Zero One to pull visitors out of the crowd and involve them in a secret challenge. We’ve hosted a Martin-Parr-themed dining experience, had a secret absinthe bar where visitors write down their confessions as part of a collaborative artwork and also a ‘Brexit Photo Booth’. There’s always something different at every fair.

RS: Buying directly from the artist is also what creates the unique visitor experience and sets us apart from other fairs. Just chatting to the artist, hearing about their processes and ideas behind their work makes the art buying process much more personal and accessible.

What is your most memorable moment from a past Fair?

RS: When Tracey Emin agreed to be our guest artist in 2014. Having her onsite signing work was a significant moment for the fair.

JC: For me I think it’s the most recent London edition in October 2017. We held artist drinks after the fair closed on Friday, and Guest Artist Reeps One performed in the ShangrilART installation area – it was pretty cool.  

The Other Art Fair takes place in London, Sydney, LA, Brooklyn, Bristol and Melbourne, how do you manage such a worldwide operation?

RS: We have a brilliant team in London and also amazing Fair Directors in Sydney, New York and LA. The team work hard on the ground to know the artists and audience in their city. We’re always chatting and sharing ideas across countries too.

Is there anything different about the London Fair to the rest?

JC: The London fair has the biggest buzz (in my opinion), maybe because we’ve been running here the longest. The atmosphere onsite is unbeatable.  

What can we expect from the fair in March?

JC: The standard of artwork is really high. We’ve got some exciting installations taking place inside the fair, including one by award winning designer Morag Myerscough and one by fair artist Fei Alexeli.

RS: We’ll have music and broadcasting by Soho Radio, maybe a secret bar… Visitors can even walk away from the fair with their own permanent artwork in the form of a tattoo. Brooklyn based, hand poke tattoo artist Bluestone Babe is making her UK debut and will be tattooing visitors live onsite. She’s definitely one to look out for.

Is there any Art on a Postcard artist’s work you’re looking forward to seeing in particular?

JC: I’m excited to see Paula Rego and John Copeland.

RS: Billy Childish, Geraldine Swayne, Lubaina Himid…

We can't wait for the Fair and to reveal all the brilliant artwork we receive as it comes in. If you would like to find out more you can do so here. Keep an eye on our social media (@artonapostcard) for regular updates and Secret Auction card reveals. The auction itself will take place at the fair on Sunday 25th March. We'll see you on the 22nd-25th for a fun weekend.

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