Inside the Affordable Art Fair New York

As the director of the Affordable Art Fair New York, Cristina Salmastrelli knows a good artistic investment when she sees it. With the fall installment of the art expo just around the corner, Salmastrelli shared with us her tips for building a cohesive collection and what affordable really means.

As the director of the Affordable Art Fair New York, what does “affordable” mean to you?

Of course the word “affordable” and its definition is a personal and intimately relative term based on an individual. Therefore, affordable is synonymous with comfortable in my book. This is why, at the Affordable Art Fair, we have original, contemporary works priced within a sizeable range: from $100 to $10,000, with most work under $5,000. I want our visitors to come to our fair feeling comfortable and welcomed, with affirmation that—no matter what their discretionary budget is for the fair—we can accommodate them. I don’t want any visitor to leave the fair feeling stressed or nervous about artwork that they’re taking home but rather comfortable with their purchase and happy with the overall experience.

How do you think the internet is supplementing the art buying market?

For art fairs in particular, the internet is a way for our visitors to see original contemporary work while the fair is not physically up and running. The internet truly enhances any art lover’s experience, with new pieces and with unlimited information on the contemporary art world. It will never replace the feeling one gets when being in the same room as a work of art, but it’s an excellent way to learn more about an individual piece, the art market, or art trends to prepare for art fairs.

What’s your best advice for collectors on mixing periods and styles?

Mix away! There is nothing better that creating a customized collection based on personality rather than time periods or pre-determined styles. My one suggestion about mixing has to do with color. Try to keep everything in the same color palette. When the color palette is complimentary, the pieces will play off each other rather than compete. Mixing mediums, sizes, genres, and styles is an excellent way to spice up a collection, while a cohesive color scheme ties the individual pieces together.

Are you a collector?

Yes, I am an art collector. I mainly collect photographs, etchings, and drawings. Since I work in contemporary art, I’ve collected contemporary work primarily, but I would like to add some ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints to compliment my collection. An Egon Schiele drawing would be the centerpiece in my dream collection!

What does collecting mean to you?

To me, when you collect something, it’s because you have an emotional attachment to it, whether it’s a piece of art or an old, worn T-shirt. I collect my art based on the connection I make with the piece when I stand in front of it. If it resonates with me and I feel an emotional connection, I will ask a ton of questions and see if it’s a piece that I want personally. Each artwork within a collection has purpose and significance, so the collection comes to represent the collectors themselves. Each piece of art tells a story, and when you collect, you create your story.

Add to your collection story at the Affordable Art Fair New York, September 25 – 29, 2014, at The Tunnel, 269 Eleventh Avenue. Tickets are available at

Want more Lofty? Visit the fair on September 28 when Lofty founder Mark Lurie will be part of an AAF panel on building and managing your collection.