In 1996, Will Ramsay opened his first gallery in London. From the very beginning, his goal was to make art accessible to everyone, and to democratize a seemingly elite and untouchable world. With this in mind, Ramsay established the Affordable Art Fair in 1999 in London, and it was an instant hit. Since then, he’s founded numerous art fairs all over the world, with an estimated 1.6 million visitors entering their doors. This weekend, Toronto is hosting Ramsay’s Love Art Fair (the Canadian version of the Affordable Art Fair), where the works of a number of Canada’s contemporary artists will be displayed and sold. Pricing ranges from $100 to $10,000, and the fair will take place April 17 – 19, 2015.
Despite being busy as a bee running art fairs across the globe—he’s had shows in New York, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Singapore, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Brussels, Hamburg, Milan, Stockholm and Seoul—Ramsay took a moment to speak with us about his love for art and why he believes the Love Art Fair is so important.
S: You’re obviously immune to the time restraints the rest of the world seems to suffer from… Between running art fairs all over the world, having your own gallery in London, running a farm, founding a hydro-electric business, writing a book and being a father to four daughters, how on earth do make time for everything?
Will Ramsay: Make time! I can survive on 6-7 hours sleep.
When did the idea of making art accessible first come to you?
It all started when I went around to galleries in my early 20s, keen to learn more, but felt intimidated and noticed a complete lack of customer service. I felt like [art dealers] weren’t treating me like a customer of tomorrow.
Why is this mission to democratize art so important to you?
Because art feeds the soul, inspires creativity and reduces stress (ever important in our busy world), both for the artists and the viewers. If there is something that makes us rich, it is culture, not money.
How do you go about selecting the artists who will showcase in your art fairs? How involved are you?
Each fair director leads a Selection Panel. We have a local team in each market that knows the city well, and can select gallerists and artists based on that particular city’s personality and unique taste. I don’t like to undermine this selection process.
What makes your Affordable Art Fairs/Love Art Fair unique?
I’d like to think that we are welcoming, fun, educational and unintimidating, in addition to showcasing loads of affordable art!
Art is obviously such a huge part of your life. What styles of art are you particularly fond of? What/who are your favourite art movements and artists?
The Old Masters and the contemporary. Of the former, Caravaggio. Of the latter, a whole host: I have in my collection 120 pieces, with a maximum of two by each artist. 100 of these cost under $2,000.
What is your advice to people who want to begin collecting art?
Go to an art fair! Speak to gallerists to learn more, understand more, appreciate more and fall in love more. Write a short list of booths to return to as you wander the fair. If [the piece you love] is outside your budget, ask if there are smaller pieces by the artist, or ask if you can pay in instalments. You can even ask at the information desk which galleries have cheaper art.
What made you fall so in love with art?
An artist’s skill, intelligence and humour.
Now that your art fairs are in Bristol, New York, Brussels, Milan, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Stockholm, Maastricht, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul and now in Toronto, is there a new city you have your eyes on?
That’s a secret! Or else the jungle drums would come back to me that we have launched in that city, and ask why we didn’t tell them directly.
What can we expect next for you?
I am riding in an amateur horse race next Saturday.
For more information, visit loveartfair.com.