View Full Version : art fair in London

09-13-2011, 04:57 PM
has anyone an experience with entering works in Parallax art fair in London?it takes place at La Galleria, Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall..I don't know where it is and if it's worthy..
thanks for your replies!
agnès 'clem'

09-13-2011, 08:26 PM
Yes. I did the first one and it ws AWFUL. Almost no visitors, overcrowded on the private view night to the point where they weren't letting anyone in (including artists - they were serving wine and nibbles out in the arcade). No outside signage except a sign saying "AF Parallax" which means nothing to a passer-by. No idea how much advertising they did. Some people apparently made some sales. All the walls were very very close together (I complained that there wasn't the legal width for wheelchair access in many parts) so you couldn't stand back to see any art. Definitely avoid if you'd have to travel to do it, if you're in London might be worth a dabble in the hopes they've learned from last time. But they said they were changing venue to prevent some of the problems, sounds like they're not?


09-14-2011, 10:06 AM
thank you very much Tina for sharing your experience!I thought:it's an opportunity to go to London(I went there only once when I was fifteen years old!ah!ah)but maybe it'd be better if I found a gallery there!I already have an idea about this artfair and you reinforce it!thank you again!
agnès 'clem'

12-15-2011, 07:53 PM
Hi Clementine,

I am one of the organisers of Parallax AF and I have just seen this thread and also Tina's response.

Firstly, as we now state in the handbook, some artists will have bad experiences. However, this does not mean that all artists do. It's important to bear this in mind. Artists that sell, make connections (two artist collectives formed from the original show) or get commissions, usually have good experiences for obvious reasons. Tina is correct that artists did sell work. She is also correct that the venue is changing to Chelsea Town Hall on the King's Road. The Chelsea Art Fair is also held there.

In regards to the first venue, the Royal Opera Arcade, there was a large PVC poster in the window, a 6ft sign outside the venue on Pall Mall and another outside the main entrance with "Parallax AF" written on it. In terms of people in the gallery during the private view, you have to bear in mind that a lot of cultures tend to clash. Our French exhibitors did not like the idea of wine in the gallery so we decided to only serve drinks in the Arcade. Because Parallax AF proved very popular (and because of our advertising) 1000 more people did turn up unexpectedly during the first private view and for health/safety reasons we restricted numbers in the gallery. Some artists did not like this, but, the balanced view is that, some did. I should point out that in the October show at Parallax AF one of exhibitors was actually wheelchair bound.

Having said the above, the new venue is much larger. However, it is important that you read what P(AF) is about and make a visit as a guest visitor. There is no guarantee of sales and you are likely to have success based on how pro-active you are too.

Thanks for your time.

Good luck in your practice.


12-16-2011, 11:24 AM
Glad you've chimed in Chris! Disappointed to hear you're moving to Chelsea Town Hall - one of the main appeals for me was the central London location. Alas, I've shown at CTH many times, I would also say no to that venue. I know it well from many experiences (some artist fairs, some gallery fairs including 3x at the Chelsea Art Fair) that the venue is not known for passing trade so it relies a lot on invited guests. I wouldn't do an event there again nor recommend it to artists looking at a new fair to the venue.

Feedback: The 6ft sign and poster in the window at Pall Mall said "AF Parallax". There wasn't actually wording that it was an art fair. This was pointed out to me by visitors who couldn't find it easily. Perhaps you could include much clearer wording in future saying "Art Fair" more clearly?

Artists each need to decide for themselves, and I personally wasn't looking at Parallax mainly for sales. (I know with my market and price point that events such as this are a marketing event for me.) I do hope it does well over time, the quality of work was excellent and the juried system was another real draw for me. That part worked at establishing a level of quality and I hope you're still as selective even in a larger venue. :)

The price was also extremely reasonable, but for someone travelling from further afield like France I just don't think the footfall of the fair is at a point yet to justify the additional expenses. The private view was very busy, as these things usually are, but the rest of the days were extremely quiet. An art fair should be bringing in fairly consistent passerby traffic - especially a free entry fair! Again, signage was part of this because it just looked like a gallery show and not an art fair.

I'll come have a look at the Chelsea show if I'm around. :)

12-16-2011, 05:12 PM
One thing artists have to ask themselves is when considering events is: will I be a dinner guest or will I be on the menu? That is, will the venue work for the benefit of both them and me, with promotion, advertising, etc, or is their business idea to earn mainly from the fees collected from the hopeful artists?

12-31-2011, 03:35 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I'm always interested in what artists have got to say so it is inevitable that I join in conversations.

To answer your specific queries quickly Tina: the two 6ft signs read "Parallax AF" (short for Parallax Art Fair) running vertically up the banner. You can see this on the website and is the main logo. We do now include: International Contemporary Art Fair on posters, but quite a few people know what it is now. Since you exhibited, Tina, we now send all exhibitors a handbook which includes the marketing plan that we do. (It also includes a marketing plan for artists too- see below). I'm sure there would be numerous artists who would counter from their own personal experience that Chelsea Town Hall is a good venue. There is always a balanced view on these things in my experience.

One thing that I have noticed, is that the artists that do well at P(AF), do tend to be very good at business. An artist art fair is not the same as a dealer fair. Dealers are businesses with marketing expertise that target specifically their database for their products. In that kind of fair all the exhibitors (the dealers) are doing target marketing. They use it as a space to do business. They do not rely on that mysterious group called "passing trade"- bit of a myth if you ask me. All the "passing trade" are the clients of the other exhibitors who have been purposefully invited to the event. They do not rely on the venue either. A lot of sales are made after the event too.

Most artists have not been trained in marketing and most will not have "warm" databases like a dealer. Some artists do not even know how to sell face-to-face. We think that putting our work on the walls is enough. But it isn't. The venue can't sell our work for us, but nor can the general marketing of the event either. I produced a research report recently on P(AF) and other artist art fairs and it appears to be a similar phenomenon across the board. The artists that do well have business expertise and operate, on a small scale and budget obviously, like a dealer would do prior to any fair. This is what we try to get across to artists in the handbook. Actually, it is the key to success. I would be interested to know what specific marketing you did prior to Parallax AF Tina? Did you invite your database, run a promotion, place adverts, call up people- dealers etc., hire PR, piggy-back on embassy/local business newsletters? The artists that do well, appear to do these things.

I just wrote an essay that looks at this whole issue in the context of vanity galleries in the USA. I talk about the history of artists and business a little. Might be of interest.

In response to Colorix, you are right to an extent. There are organisations that are like that . But most are genuine and they are trying to help artists. And yes, some artists can come across desperate and naive. And they should never be encouraged. I would add something further to your questions that artits must ask themselves. Artists have got to ask themselves honestly too: why do I want to do this event? And, do I have the business expertise to achieve my aims once I am there?

Thanks for your time and happy New Year celebrations tonight.

Edit by Mod: Chris rather than promoting an essay on your site which is contrary to the user agreement, you may reproduce it in a post if you feel it is relevant

12-31-2011, 05:42 PM
Hello, Chris,

Yes, I agree that artists with a business mind do well. I take exception to your implication that Tina did not rate the fair highly because she doesn't have business savvy though. I have been reading her posts here as a member of WC for nearly 10 years and she strikes me as very sharp.

Do you survey the participating artists after the fair? How do the participating artists rate the fair? What percentage of artists return from year to year? What are the demographics of the attendees? Exactly what was the headcount each day? Can you quantify how much art was sold? etc.

Artists, consider going to the fair as an attendee first. That will tell you a lot.


01-01-2012, 12:21 AM
I agree about business sense, too. Especially as I am part of a business coaching series for artists. ;) I also have worked in galleries in London and help run two annual shows on Cork Street, as a social media and promotions person. I did a great deal of my own marketing including press releases and obviously repeated communication with my own mailing list. However, my list is primarily international and outside of London and so I had hoped a different central London event would bring a fair flow of visitors - like other art fairs I've done in London. That wasn't what I experienced at the first fair this summer. I didn't visit the second one, I'll be honest. But that you for the advice anyway.

I'd be curious - do you have visitor numbers and sales numbers for the two fairs so far? And ditto on the feedback and stats Trisha mentioned. Obviously I took a risk in doing it your first time this summer, but now there is more information available for potential exhibitors. If this is in the new information for artists I'd be happy to have a look and pass on the fair info to other artists if it looks promising.

As for the banners, my entire point was that Parallax AF did not explicitly say "art fair". Always assume people do not know the jargon. :)


02-04-2012, 01:29 PM
Chris, I'd like to revive this thread because several artists have recently asked my opinion on the next fair.

Do you have any visitor numbers you could share with us yet?
Or overall sales figures?

I'd very much like to give other artists as much info as I can so they can make their own decisions.

I'm afraid I was disappointed to see that the new ads on the bikes (FANTASTIC idea) still don't clearly say ART FAIR in the large main lettering (it is the subheading but easily missed) and seems to have a drab photo of a pile of boxes rather than any art? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=262121133857646&set=pu.122785194457908&type=1&theater


10-16-2012, 02:57 PM
Well it seems that I should have located this forum first. I have just exhibited at the latest Parallax Art Fair, 2012 at Chelsea and it seems to me that all the previous claims; no visitors, poor sales are still the same. My bone of contention, if Dr Chris Barlow is around, would be the poor attendance. There is absolutely no point, as far as I can see, of holding an art fair if no-one attends. From my point of view I carried out all of the helpful suggestions in the lengthy what-do-to list from Parallax. However, this cant have been the case for many overseas artists as they have different clientele in their own countries. I really do not see how people can attend if it is not publicised properly and footfall doesnt happen. I am experienced in art fairs and have even exhibited at Chelsea before, where the footfall was much better. I would advise artists to consider some of the points outlined on this forum.

10-16-2012, 03:46 PM
Good art fairs where you can exhibit: Art Basel; Art Basel Miami; Los Angeles Art Fair; Frieze Art Fair; Abu Dhabi Art; ArCo; São Paulo Biennial; Biennale of Sidney; The Berlin Biennial;

10-16-2012, 04:55 PM
How is ParallaxAF able to post to this thread without being a member of wet canvas?

10-16-2012, 05:25 PM
I imagine he was a member long enough to post and his membership was then revoked for user agreement violation.

12-30-2012, 07:21 PM
I know this is an old thread but Parallax is still soliciting artists and I just posted my recent experiences with that organization and Dr. Chris Barlow:


I hope this helps other artists make more informed decisions.

05-15-2013, 04:46 PM
I am suppose to be taking part in Parallax London in 1-2 June 2012. I'm so worried to read so many complains here and in many other forums. I have already experience the lack of professionalism from Dr Chris its been over week the he has receive a full payment from me, but Im still waiting to receive email confirmation and the handbook he said I would receive after the full payment is made.
I don't think I will be wasting more time emailing this arrogant, I will get him to answer his useless service to watchdog@bbc.co.uk

05-15-2013, 08:12 PM
If an artist wishes to exhibit themselves, it's good idea is to get some experience for free first, before forking out sums of money. I've seen too many sorry looking artists, miserable and unapproachable at art fairs not selling any of their work. An artist can find many opportunities to set out their stalls absolutely free if they put their ears to the ground. This will help to develop essential skills and build tactics and ideas before going to a big art fair. Get involved with local business groups for instance. Plenty of people welcome a well presented exhibition at their functions.

Also market research an art fair and go to a few and talk shop with the artists and galleries selling there. See how it's done. Be under no illusions.

05-15-2013, 09:17 PM
I am suppose to be taking part in Parallax London in 1-2 June 2012. I'm so worried to read so many complains here and in many other forums. I have already experience the lack of professionalism from Dr Chris its been over week the he has receive a full payment from me, but Im still waiting to receive email confirmation and the handbook he said I would receive after the full payment is made.
I don't think I will be wasting more time emailing this arrogant, I will get him to answer his useless service to watchdog@bbc.co.uk

He has been emailing every website my husband has about the New York show. When I tell him no because of what I have read here he gets real snitty.

Here is the email he used for us. [Email address removed per request from Dr. Chris as it is a personal email. PM Jill for more information. ( and he responded to it.

05-24-2013, 05:37 AM
Thank you Jill,
I finally got the handbook and I'm looking forward to this event. If I only had receive confirmation on time it could have save me some sleepless nights! Anyway with any exhibition risk are taken, seriously few people in some forums do complain about press and advertisement, they probably had too much expectation, we could not be dreaming to have Picasso fame over night...
I'm taking part because I think this is cheaper option to any other opportunity to show my work in London and I will have chance to talk to public myself. If nothing London is buzzing all the time with people. If space and lights the I paid for are provided, I be happy. I will be doing my bit of advertising...there is facebook...twitter...google+ LinkedIn...and finally it comes to people views they either like what they see or they won't !