If you missed ‘The Other Art Fair’ then sadly, you missed out. Within an industrial space in Marylebone you could have picked up a signed print by Margate girl; Tracey Emin, discovered the fascinating art-form of taxidermy by re-breathing a ‘stiller’ kind of new-life into a guinea-pig (amongst an array of other dead creatures) or simply strolled around a collection of incredibly talented independent artists’ pop-up galleries… I opted out of the taxidermy classes (having been a doting step-mummy to at least 30 guinea-pigs, rabbits and hamsters through-out my childhood) and chose instead to visit the Sipsmith Independent Cocktails Bar for a Sunday Sauvignon Blanc and a catch up with Ryan Stanier, the Director of the fair…
The Other Art Fair is geared towards anyone with an artistic streak, which is a fitting concept for London, a city blooming with vibrant creativity in so many different forms. What makes the Other Art Fair unique though, is that it offers a platform to craftspeople, pioneers of new techniques, artists and inventors wherein they may be granted the opportunity to showcase their work and gain the recognition they truly deserve. Whilst commercial galleries play a pivotal role in representing and developing artistic talent, the artists they support are limited leaving a large percentage of contemporary practising artists without exclusive representation.
The fair provides free seminars, lectures and workshops and most importantly, blends the all important ‘C’-words which appeal to the advertising agencies, art critics, corporate companies, curators and collectors which support this industry. These named ‘C’-words are craft, content, creativity, campaigns and collaborations. All of which depend upon art in some form. I asked Ryan a few questions about his aspirations for the future of the Other Art Fair amongst other things…
Where did the name of the fair and the original concept of the Other Art Fair come from? So the original idea came off the back of doing a pop-up gallery in Covent Garden. I have a lot of friends who are artists and I saw how difficult it was for them to actually get gallery representation and show their work. So the idea of a pop-up gallery came pretty organically. I took on a space for 18 months, worked with lots of artists that I knew at the time and literally sold their work. But I wanted to run with the project on a bigger scale. (This next image by Roy Tyson of Roy's People seemed fairly appropriate. Excuse the pun...)
So you’re a big fan of the arts, what did you study? I actually studied ‘Business and Law’ at the Kingston Business School. It helps to run the fair, which is in essence, a business after all. I don’t have any involvement with picking the artists; they are selected by the dedicated panel. My background is in events, I have worked at London Fashion Week, the British International Motorshow and lot’s of other exhibitions. So with my collective experience of running fairs and galleries, I had the idea of setting up an artist-led fair, which gives the artists the opportunity to share their own experience with the visitors. I named it, The Other Art Fair because we offer something different to visitors, theatre like events which allow them engage with the thought process behind different art forms. I like the idea that the fair is not just about selling but more about the value of the experience, with bars and DJs.
What do you love about what you do? What is it that makes you get out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face? Well firstly, working with artist is amazing. They are genuinely the most passionate, inspiring and friendly people to be around and the community spirit between the artists is infectious. The most rewarding part about running the fair is seeing it all come together, seeing people queuing up outside the door in the morning and actually selling artworks, just this weekend over a thousand artworks have new homes. It’s a very varied job; I never want the fair to be the same twice so I’m constantly thinking about new ideas for the site. Last year for instance, we ran a tattoo project with Mo Coppoletta, who has a three-year-waiting list, he came up with four unique designs and four competition winners came to the fair and each got a one off ‘designer’ tattoo on site.
How do you promote the Other Art Fair? Well we are in our sixth year now and have some great partners, along with a great database so we use traditional marketing and PR channels as well as a lot of social media. Word of mouth recommendations go a long way too… We also get a lot of good press. Tracey Emin was here on the opening night signing prints, so with an endorsement like that you know you working on something that really matters to people.
What are your aspirations for the fair… Will you take it to an international scale and audience? Yes indeed, we are taking the fair to Australia next year. We’ll be in Sydney for September and Melbourne too if we can! There’s a thriving art scene out there, which is really interesting and exciting.
Do you paint, draw, take photographs or do anything creative in your own time then? No, not at all… Ha… I leave that to the artists I collaborate with. I wish I did though! We have a few success stories wherein our exhibitors have been able to meet gallery curators who offer them exposure through solo shows… So in way I suppose that is my creative outlet.
I have to ask, because I ask everyone this… What do you spread on your toast? Well when I was in Melbourne this year I discovered avocado-on-toast. It's amazing. Now a firm favourite.
The next Other Art Fair will take place in October this year at the Truman Brewey. Make sure you drop by and maybe even 'buy' something spectacular...