Tired of massed-produced wall art and tchotchke? Good art fairs can save you from decorating boredom and budget-busting original art prices.

If you happened to be in Central Park a few Saturdays back, then you may be the proud owner of one of the hottest art trends of 2013.

Street graffiti artist Banksy set up a small kiosk for one Saturday only and sold original, signed works for $60 apiece. Given the insane levels of popularity Banksy’s garnered in the past few weeks – and the fact some of his pieces have sold for more than $2 million at auction – this was the find-of-a-lifetime for art lovers looking for a bargain.

Sadly, I was nowhere near Central Park on that particular Saturday. So my chances of getting a reasonably priced Banksy original are slim-to-none, given the explosive rise the artist has enjoyed this past summer. But as much as I’d love a piece of pop art history, missing out on this one opportunity doesn’t mean I’m doomed to bland art gracing my walls.

In fact, I’m counting down the days and saving my dollars for the start of the 2014 art festival season. As if to whet my appetite, ArtFairCalendar.com released their list of the Best Air Fairs, 2013 edition. One of my personal favorites (Coconut Grove Arts Festival) actually made the America’s Best list and another festival within driving distance (Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival) did as well, to tempt me to drive several hours in search of great art without an insane price tag.

Why plan a whole weekend trip around one art festival? Because it’s worth it for the really cool stuff you can get for really reasonable prices. Art festival finds are my No. 1 way to decorate.

Tips for staying on budget at art fairs

If you look at ArtFairCalendar.com’s Top 50, you see that’s it’s pretty easy to find at least one great art fair within reasonable driving distance. Of course, we can all be jealous of folks in Chicago and Ann Arbor who get a whole slew of great festivals right in their hometown, but even one great art fair can yield phenomenal decorating solutions.

The trick is to make sure you don’t bust your budget buying new pieces…

      • Save up in advance; You can see from the list that festivals for next year are already planned; so find the ones you want to attend and then start saving up. For instance, I’m setting aside $100 out of every paycheck, since I have a new house to decorate. I’ll have a nice $700 to spend by the time my first festival comes around in January.
      • Know your spaces; It’s almost impossible to shop something like an art festival with a specific list of purchases; but what you can do is figure out what spaces you need to fill in your house and then buy accordingly. Make sure to take specific measurements so you don’t by a piece that’s too big for the spot you have available on your wall.
      • Match your own style; It’s easy to get wowed by something really unique at an art fair; only to get the piece home to realize it doesn’t work with anything else in your space. If you’re buying a piece for your ultra-modern office, a country landscape may not look right.
    • Plan Ahead

      • Do a complete walkthrough before you buy. If you start buying up everything you like when you first see it, chances are good you’re going to find a must-have piece at the end of the day that you can’t afford.
      • Get business cards now, buy big later; If you see a big piece that’s over the budgeted money you have, don’t fret. Just talk to the artist, get their card and see what can of arrangements you can make to get a piece later once you have the money for it.
      • Don’t blow your budget on the first festival; If you’ll be attending a few festivals that are close together on the calendar. Make sure that you don’t spend every penny you save at the first festival. For example, if you live in Chicago, there are 3 good fairs back-to-back in June. You may want to hold off buying anything, get business cards and take notes on which pieces you like; then decide what you want to actually buy once you’ve finished going to all of the festivals.
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Meghan Stewart

Meghan Stewart


Stewart is certified debt management professional and guest writer on Debt.com.

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Article last modified on March 9, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Scoring outstanding original art on the cheap through art festivals - AMP.