Where to buy art: Furbish pop-ups

If you're even marginally aware of design blogs, you probably already know all about Jamie Meares's store Furbish in Raleigh, NC.

Jamie's blog I Suwannee was one of the first I started reading ten or so years ago, and I never stopped. She has a great eye for mixing color and pattern in interiors, and I adore her aesthetic.

Furbish always has some art for sale, but I specifically wanted to call out their artist pop-ups, which are all online. As the name implies, they don't happen all the time; you have to follow Furbish to find out when they're coming, but it's so worth subscribing to the emails just to stay in the know about these pop-up sales. Jamie finds some really cool, eclectic artists for the sales, and if you share her cheerful, feminine aesthetic, chances are high you will be introduced to someone whose work you love. She keeps everything at pretty reasonable price point too--usually under $1,000, and often under $500. 

The downside is that the sales are short and well hyped, so there's some pressure to purchase quickly. Pieces start to sell as soon as the sales go live, and some of their pop-ups sell out in the first day or two. I prefer to put a lot of thought into any art purchase, so I'm not generally a huge fan of situations that require a quick trigger pull. But like I said, they're advertised ahead of time, so you get an opportunity to research the artist to get a sense of the style and price range. They don't post a lot of specifics beforehand, but Furbish staff have always been quick to answer my email queries, so I think they'd be willing to give you a sense of the art size and price range, if it's not obvious from your independent research. 

These pop-ups have all passed, but here are some examples to give you an idea of the kind of art to expect from Furbish:

1. Anna Sims King     2. Lindsey Porter     3. Karin Olah
4. Susie Bettenhausen     5. Jenny Andrews Anderson     6. Melvin G
7. Brannon Addison     8. Lucy Augé      9. Teil Duncan

Collectors, have you ever shopped at a Furbish pop-up? What was your experience like?

Where to buy art: Affordable Art Fair NYC

Have any of you been to Affordable Art Fair NYC? I've never been, but I hope to one year! It looks like a fun event. We thought about going to the one about to start (September 13-17) but decided we wanted to celebrate our son's first birthday at home. It was the right decision for our family, but that doesn't mean I'm not suffering from a bit of FOMO right now.

Affordable Art Fair was founded by Will Ramsey in 1999, and has grown to ten locations worldwide, but only one in the US. Affordable Art Fair NYC is scheduled in the spring and fall each year. AAFs showcase a variety of contemporary paintings, original prints, photographs, and sculptures from both emerging and established artists. I'm especially intrigued by the fact that many of the exhibiting galleries are not in the US, so American visitors get exposed to a lot of artists they might not otherwise be aware of.

The term "affordable" is used rather loosely, with prices ranging from $100 to $10,000. However, half of the pieces at each booth are priced under $5,000. While $5K doesn't scream "affordable" to me, I don't think it's an absurd price point for original art. Even if I'm just browsing (as I'd likely to be at AAF), I always appreciate having an idea the price range before heading out to an art gallery or event. 

In addition to the somewhat misleading name, another drawback of AAF NYC is that the event itself isn't free. General admission tickets are $20 at the door ($18 if you order online), which strikes me as fair, since expos like this are expensive to put on, but understandably not everyone wants to pay money for an opportunity to spend more money. I can imagine the ticket price being even more irritating to people who attend with a different definition of "affordable" in their mind. I've also read several reviews about how crowded the Fairs are, despite the paid admission. As someone with an aversion to crowds, I consider this a small drawback as well.

Here are some examples of the kinds of pieces you could get at Affordable Art Fair NYC (plus several more shown on their Preview page):

1. Andrew Baines [$1250]     2. Hana Moore [$2900]
3. Hyun Suk Kim [$3500]     4. Kelly Grace [$3400]
5. Daniel Sueiras [$500]    6. Heesu Choi [$1100]
7. Miguel Vallinas [starting at $1600]     8. Veronica Green [$3500]

Collectors, have you been to any AAFs before? What was your impression, whether you were just browsing or left with a great new contemporary art piece? Any tips for first-timers?

Where to buy art: Charleston Artist Collective

Artists collectives are some of my favorite sources for original art. And the Charleston Artist Collective is one of the best. 

In general, an artist collective is a group of artists working together with a shared mission. They help get artists exposure and usually provide some of the business infrastructure for participants. They are often, but not always, location-based, giving collectors an easy way to find local art.

The Charleston Artist Collective is particularly good because it's so well managed. Its founder, Allison Williamson, has done a phenomenal job with this collective. It has as an online-only gallery that's easy to navigate and showcases new art every month. For whatever reason, so many artists' websites are total pain to use. Some of them organize art buy year, which probably makes perfect sense to the artist, but isn't useful for most collectors. A lot of them have tiny thumbnails of each work that have to be individually clicked on to view. Many don't include any prices, so if you're not familiar with the artist you'd have no idea whether the piece you're looking at is in the $200-, $2,000-, or $20,000-range. I could go on about some of my frustrations with many artists' websites, but my point here is that the Charleston Artist Collective online gallery doesn't have any of those issues. It makes buying original art simple.

Williamson's efforts have been so successful that she's opened a brick-and-mortar location for buyers who want to see works in person and expanded her framework to create artists collectives in Atlanta, Nashville and the D.C. Capital Region

Each month, the Charleston collective, which consists of 17 artists, submits pieces related to a theme selected by the group as whole. Don't worry, the themes are broad (think "local color" and "impressionism to expressionism") and the artists' interpretations of them are pretty loose--you don't get a whole bunch of paintings of vaguely similar sunsets or cityscapes or whatever each month. Actually, I don't think I'd be able to guess the theme if it wasn't displayed on the page, which is perfectly fine with me. Additionally, each month, a portion of the sales goes to a local charity, and the tally of proceeds to that charity, as well as a total for all the local charities supported since the collective's inception is displayed at the top of the site. I really like that kind of transparency.

The pieces range in price from less than $100 to around $7,000, with most pieces under $2,500. Sold pieces are clearly marked with a red dot just like you'd see in a gallery--another user-friendly detail I appreciate. The homepage goes to the current month's submissions, but you can always shop All Artwork to have access to (unsold) pieces from prior months too. That page also has filters, so you can look by size, month or artist. I do think a "sort by price" option would be nice, but as of right now, it's manageable without that feature. 

One drawback of the Charleston Artist Collective is that, while there is good variety in the art itself, the artists who make it up are not that diverse. Fifteen of the seventeen artists are female, and it doesn't appear that there are any artists of color. Also, although the artists do have unique styles, most of the work does fit into a particular aesthetic, which obviously won't be for everyone. I'd say that most of the pieces here fall into the bright and cheerful, slightly feminine category that you might associate with brands like Serena & Lily. 

Here are a handful of the kinds of pieces you can get from the Charleston Artist Collective:

1. Lynne Hamontree [$1,600]  2. Janie Ball [Sold]  3. Susie Callahan [$775]
4. Anne Darby Parker [$625]  5. Laura Lloyd Fonaine [$600]  6. Slava Roubanov [$2,500]
7.  Squeaky [Sold]  8. Chelsea Goer [$2,500]  9. Linda Elksnin [$650]

Collectors, are any of you fans of the Charleston Artist Collective? What has your buying experience been like?