If you have at least one foot into the art scene, you have been to a Superfine! Art Fair, one of the leading fairs in the country. If you haven’t, we’re gonna break down why it benefits not only you as a prospective buyer or collector but also the talented artists being displayed. With COVID-19 making its entrance into NYC right in the middle of the art season, it has impacted its world in different ways, read on below on how Superfine! has adapted.
Currently, the 2020 fairs for LA, and San Francisco, and the 2019 Fair for DC have transitioned into E-fairs. This year New York City has 3 diverse fairs (NYCx3): ‘(Wo)man’ for female artists, ‘Myth’ for surreal art, and ‘Magick’ for LGBTQ artists. Superfine!, based out of Dumbo, Brooklyn was founded by Co-Founder and CEO Alex Mitow and Co-Founder and Managing Partner James Miille. We got on the phone to chat with the two on all things Superfine! and the art space, not only the physical sense but also the digital.
Heart and Soul
Alex, who is also a content creator and major collector of contemporary art, gave us some insight into the heart of why Superfine! was started 5 years ago. It was to connect artists with potential buyers and redefine who an art buyer is or can be. They focused on identifying collectors who aren’t necessarily millionaires, but anyone who naturally loves fascinating art, with a focus on emerging artists, and artwork ranging from $100-$10,000.
While living in New York, and traveling to Miami for Art Basel, Alex saw a gap in the market. One thing that differentiates Superfine! are the business tools they provide for artists. Many may come out of school, without much understanding of how to make a living with art. You can either make millions or nothing at all, like many in any profession, these things are not set in stone. It was an easy transition from physical to virtual fairs, taking into account their e-learning component.
Honing in on artists’ great skill and talent, Superfine! teaches in a way where anyone can learn to make a living doing what they love, digitally, or in person. Breaking down hurdles, these resources are available to artists all over the world. From New Zealand to Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and Canada. Soon to be launching in Germany and other countries.
James, Co-Founder of Superfine!, and Alex’s partner is a captivating artist (read photographer) in his own right and became involved in the beginning when he began to show his art at a few questionable shows. Artists didn’t have control over marketing, and he also felt the need to sell art directly to interested collectors and buyers, without them having to fit into a ‘specific profile’.
2019 & 2020 Superfine! Artists
(Let’s Get) Physical
Many people may expect Miami, New York, and LA to be the cream of the crop when it comes to the art scene. But for Superfine!, cities like Seattle, DC, and San Fran aren’t bombarded with shows, so people respond differently. They are also high disposable income cities, where residents have the extra funds and space to display their investments. According to Alex, DC is one of, if not the best markets for this. Artists may think their work should be shown in a specific city, but you can never really know until you see how people react. This approach resonates in cities with down to earth folks, who simply love art, and want to bring it into their homes.
James explained that Superfine! E-fairs started a few years ago, after their 3rd fair. It was initially a way for people who didn’t live in the host city, to see the artwork, and for artists to generate more sales. E-fairs make the experience more immersive, similar to the feel of the main exhibition. It’s been around for a while, but amped up, in the times of COVID.
Panel discussions for artists and collectors took the educational component online. Past webinars for artists before fairs, kept them focused and positive, gearing them up for e-learning.
What are these E-learning options you might ask? If you just wanted to get your feet wet, there are free webinars offered every Friday, and aptly named Art at the End of the Tunnel. They feature special guests and a Q& A. You can scope out Superfine!’s Instagram for who that expert will be.
The monthly Masterclass dives deeper into a specific topic. Classes like SEO for artists, how to price art to sell, and how to create sales funnels. Materials artists should focus on when building out a website. They run $45/each, on a three-month rotating cycle.
The quarterly MBA (Master of The Business of Art) Bootcamp, kicks off the 3rd weekend of July and is comprised of an 8-hour educational experience, broken up into 2 days. Even more comprehensive, the Bootcamp helps artists starting out or even those who have been selling art for a while but want to ramp up the business side of things. Packages, where you can save a few bucks, are available for the latter two.
Two of the biggest differences this year is that the Superfine! NYC Fairs have partnered with Art Money and Exhibbit. Art Money essentially gives you the option to finance art, purchasing that eye-catching piece by making payments over 10 months. What’s really cool, is that you receive the art upfront, unlike other payment plans. It’s a great option for those who are budget conscious, which are most of us are in today’s climate, or those who are not so good at making compromises. Usually, individual artists can’t access this service, as it’s only available to galleries, so it is definitely favorable for both sides.
Exhibbit, transports you into a gallery, without you ever having to leave your screen. The art is laid out 3-D, within a room and can be compared to others, side by side, making it more accessible for people to view and buy online, as opposed to viewing it as a simple JPEG. Details on the artist and artwork are also displayed next to each piece. Virtual tours of the rooms for NYC will continue into June. Overall, James noted that the biggest challenge, was that not all artists wanted to participate (usually everyone submits), which is understandable in these sensitive times. They still managed to have over 85% of their artist community show their work virtually.
Look into the Future
If you’re an artist, also a business owner in Superfine!’s book, and wondering what your next play should be, James advises that artists should take this time to innovate. If you do not have an online presence, create one and if you do, bolster it and make it bigger. Also, prepare for what may come next, so that you can come out of this stronger than before. Superfine!’s E-learning prepares for the present, but also the near future. Creating more of an online presence, they will continue with this method in addition to Digital Business Services for Artists, which will be launching mid-summer of this year. It will cover Instagram management, SEO optimized landing pages, in addition to other topics. San Fran was the last physical fair of 2020, one week before the shutdown to be exact. All other 2020 fairs have been postponed to 2021, which will host 7 fairs – NYCx3, LA, SF, Seattle, DC, and new host cities Chicago and St. Petersburg, Florida.
A few new artists have recently joined the Superfine! community. Do you think you can be one of them? To take part in one of their fairs, you first choose your booth package aka space dimensions, and apply to a fair, which can be multiple. Through June 15th, there is a 10% discount on all new booth reservations. Pay upfront and get 15% off!
Seattle is up next as an E-Fair, but you can also apply for Chicago happening in the Summer of 2021, or St. Petersburg in January, which currently has a waitlist. Unsure of where to start? James is available for any questions you may have, and for my art collectors/buyers, Happy Seeking!
Where do you see the future of art going? Let us know below!