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International Art Fair: Is it Worth It?



We just got back from our week-long trip south of the border to beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico.  Bogdan was lucky enough to be included as an artist in the first annual FAIN Art Fair in Guadalajara.  FAIN is a group out of Argentina, who I believe last year did their first fair in Mexico City, and this year have expanded their reach to three Mexican cities: Monterrey, Guadalajara, and the capital.  The entrance is free, but the curation process is such that Bogdan's photography was accepted, while my abstract work was not.  So although they bill the event as being designed for emerging artists, they do have some pretty good curation going on.   Not just anyone gets in.

We tried to figure out how we would get 11 framed photographs to Mexico in our luggage, and it became quickly apparent that they just weren't going to fit.  Even if we were to have been able to package them all together, neither of us would have been able to carry them onto a plane.  So we decided to contact a printer/framer in Guadalajara and produce the images in Mexico prior to our arrival.  I can't tell you what a delight it was to work with Paulina and her team.  They printed the images on high quality paper, provided us with cut plexiglass, and allowed us to show up before the event and construct the framed work in their offices.  That was an added expense for us, beings how we already had the work printed here at home, but we were able to save a lot of money, as the whole process was much less expensive that it would have been here at home.  For some reason, it is prohibitively expensive to ship things to Mexico from the States, and apparently, it's not nearly as expensive to ship the other direction.  Printing in Mexico also meant that we didn't need to worry about transporting anything across the border.

The show itself was very well attended, and I believe Bogdan's work was a hit.  We saw hundreds of people over the three day event, and everyone seemed legitimately interested in the art.  I don't know if it was because there was an entrance fee for admission, or perhaps it was because the show was new to town, but there seemed to be a very high quality to the crowd, and they seemed to really be into his work.  I can't remember when I last spoke to so many people about the "story" of Bogdan's photos.  It was quite rewarding, and quite inspirational for us both.  I've never been to an art fair as a vendor, but if this experience was typical, art fairs are definitely the way to go.  

At the end of the weekend, Bogdan sold only one photograph, but to a young woman who's story blew us away.  She is a great art lover, and has a very stressful IT job.  She was talking with a counselor, who suggested that she needed to develop passions outside work, and challenged her to actually start to collect art as a hobby.  She researched the fair's online catalog, and fell in love with a particular photograph of Bogdan's.  Being a dutiful and responsible person, she waited until the fair began, and she visited all seven gallery sites before circling back to purchase her first art investment, Bogdan's image.  She was so excited, and such a lovely person.  That alone made the trip worthwhile.

So at the end of the day, we spent a lot more than we made at the fair.  Was it worth it?  I think it was.  Bogdan met and chatted with a lot of people who he would never have met otherwise, and obtained over a hundred followers on social media over the three days.  We met other artists, made contacts with framers and printers like Paulina, and we squeezed in a sort of a vacation.  There's no doubt in my mind that the event was a success, and one I would repeat any time in the future.

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“Conversations For Freelance Creatives” is a weekly blog/vlog/podcast that creates a community, a conversation, between creatives in all sorts of fields at all sorts of levels.  We want to discuss what we’re learning, what we’ve experienced, and whom we’ve met in our journey of running a freelance creative business. John Bishop is a visual artist living in Houston, Texas. His work is largely abstract, and explores how to turn mythic, archetypal symbols into individual experiences allowing us to see them in a new way, with fresh eyes. Bogdan is a videographer and fine art photographer who constantly seeks to stretch the boundaries of traditional photographic work, with the added flare of his artistic eye.  Both artists’ work can be seen online, or at their studios at Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards Street, in Houston.


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