Interview: Other Art Fair Founder Ryan Stanier
From the 30th of March to the 2nd of April 2nd, The Other Art Fair was in London, where visitors could see and purchase incredible art from around the world. The element that really sets this fair apart is the presence of the artists themselves, which provides an opportunity for the visitors to find out the meaning behind each piece, forming an exciting energy amongst the crowds. The fair’s objective is to truly support individual artists and create a community, which could be felt in the fair atmosphere. Visitors could find anything from elaborate installations by artists such as Carolina Mizrahi to the thought provoking, feminist photography and sculpture of artist Annique Delphine. There was even a virtual reality experience that led you through the hidden, Victorian tunnels under London, making the entire event immersive and unexpected. We spoke with Other Art Fair Founder and General Manager Ryan Stanier further about the fair’s unique qualities.
Can you tell me a little about the history of The Other Art Fair? How has the fair grown and transformed throughout the years?
We’re coming into our sixth year now at The Other Art Fair and I can say it’s really gone from strength to strength since 2011. I didn’t come from an art background originally, but after talking to friends who are artists and seeing how they were struggling to gain recognition and representation from galleries and collectors, I saw the perfect opportunity to create a space for artists to do exactly this. In the last 6 years we have expanded across 3 continents , w eare now holding fairs in 5 different locations and are planning to expand even further next year.
Unlike other fairs, The Other Art Fair does not have booths representing galleries, but instead individual artists, offering an opportunity for visitors to personally meet the creators of the artwork. How does this experience affect the relationship between artist and buyer/visitor?
Having visitors buy directly from the artists at the fair changes the buying experience completely. Buying a piece of art, whether it’s your first piece or you're a seasoned collector is such an exciting experience, and being able to meet the artist in person and have them directly be a part of the process makes the whole thing so much more personal. It’s so different than buying from a gallery.
Established as an artist fair, The Other Art Fair embodies the importance and value of supporting emerging, new talent. Why is this so important in today’s art scene?
With the internet and social media there are so many more platforms for artists to be recognised and discovered. This is a great thing, but it also increases the amount of artists who are out there to be discovered, making it even more difficult for emerging artists in a way. The Other Art Fair’s selection committee handpicks the best of this emerging talent, we then showcase them at the fair and support them when they need it after the fair. We’re fostering this emerging talent because it’s so important to keep the art scene evolving and to support new artists.
One of the many unique aspects of the fair is The Others Live, a series of performances that include dance, theatre, music and film. Tell me about this element of the fair and what we can expect this year?
This year we have another packed programme of fair features. We will have another virtual reality experience from The Guardian - ‘Underworld’, where visitors can explore the Victorian waterways underneath the streets of London. One of our fair artists Carolina Mizrahi has created an immersive art experience the ‘Ruby Room’ complete with a hidden bar. And we also have a pop-up restaurant from the Modern Pantry running the whole weekend.
There will be an eclectic range of programing that you may not expect to see at your typical art fair, such as taxidermy classes, live tattooing, 3D printing and immersive theatre. What do you feel these programs add to the fair atmosphere and to the audiences’ experience?
I think it really changes the perception of an art fair. The extra features are there to inspire and challenge visitors and allow them discover more about the creative things that are going on in London now. We’re always looking forward to what we think is going to be the next big trend.
What does The Other Art Fair bring to the table that sets it apart from the rest?
The Other Art Fair is providing a platform for emerging artists to show their work and be recognised by a wider audience, which is something they may not be able to do from a gallery. Combining this artist-lead experience with a whole range of extra features makes the fair a truly creative space for people of all ages. It’s a place for new art collectors to make their first purchases, for seasoned collectors to discover their new favourite artist and for general visitors to experience something they would never have the opportunity to try anywhere else.