CGN Art Fair Primer

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By CGN Staff

As collector Bob Buford explains in our interview with him for this issue planning is key to navigating the art world and making the most of art buying. Whether you are coming to an art fair to buy or are just curious to see what is happening, there are a few tips to keep in mind in order to avoid an overload ‘fair-tigue’ that could send you running for Netflix and the anti-social cover of your couch this fall. 

We promise getting out of the house will be worth it!


CGN’s Art Fair Prep Tips: How To Focus On The Art


Map it out.

Pick up a floor plan or use art fair websites to highlight which booths are where so you can prioritize what to see first. Headed to the galleries? Use CGN’s gallery maps to find out where to go and what else is nearby.

Ask questions. 

Like what you see? Ask for more. A dealer can steer you to their local space or browse their website with you to show you more works by a particular artist or art by another artist you might also like.


Art fairs offer unique, high-caliber programming, both on and off-site, such as artist panels and topics about industry news or art practices. You won’t have access to so many experts in one place any other time of the year.

Take notes.

Buy a catalogue and mark it up or flag the pages with things to follow up or artists to research.

Keep in touch.

Subscribe to the art fair’s mailing list or let a dealer know you want to keep up with their news and exhibitions. Next year you may snag a VIP pass!

Slow Down.

Visiting a booth for more than a minute or viewing a work of art sans phone will help you appreciate what you see.

Memorize the secret handshake.

Just kidding! Art dealers are nice people! Artists want to meet you! You are not obligated to buy art. 

Stay focused on the art, and it might change your life. Once the fair is over, visit galleries, attend an art walk, join a museum group, or subscribe to CGN!


Fall 2019's Art Fairs in Chicago


September 19–22

Navy Pier



Chicago Invitational Presented by NADA

September 18–21

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Read CGN's preview here.



American Craft Exposition

September 19–22

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe IL

Read CGN's preview announcement here



Filter Photo Festival

September 19–22

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, Chicago




October 31–November 3

Navy Pier

Stay tuned for SOFA coverage later this fall.



Chicago Art Book Fair

November 15–17

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel


More art fairs happen all year long, so bookmark our Art Fairs page for more info on what fairs, markets and special expositions are happening where and when.