When the LA Art Show -- which wrapped its 19th event on Sunday -- launched its first underground art section this year, executive producer Kim Martindale had some concerns.
Among them: The show has been criticized in the past for being less focused than other more niche-oriented art fairs, seeing as it combines historic, traditional, modern and contemporary art.
"I'm sure there will be people saying, 'Why's this here?'" Martindale said. "But that's what this show is about — we want to be as inclusive, art-wise, as possible. I think that's our strength."
On Saturday, however, the fair's new section -- called "Littletopia" and featuring edgier and emerging artists curated by New Orleans' Red Truck Gallery -- resonated with young show-goers.
Lauren Albrecht, co-founder of Art Nerd City Guides, led a young collectors tour through the convention center floor; and most of the tour was spent in Littletopia, where many galleries showed works in the relatively affordable range of $300 to $5,000.
"I think in New York and L.A., there's a very pop culture-driven society and the art world intersects with that," Albrecht said. "But a lot of people don't know how to get started collecting, so that's why we wanted to do this -- to have engagement with the art show on a more casual and approachable level."
The tour started at the pricier ACE Gallery -- which, since the late '60s, has shown work by Richard Serra, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. During the fair, however, the gallery was showing the relatively affordable paintings of date farmers Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, among other works.
Albrecht then brought the group to the booth of Damien Hirst's London-based company, Other Criteria, which was showing the first run of a foil print butterfly series by the artist -- a good bet for young collectors, Albrecht said.
"He's a blue chip artist but this was the first printing of 15; they were the first ones, so the lowest priced," she told the group. "The first edition of the run is always the lowest priced."
The tour soon wound its way to Littletopia, where Red Truck's Noah Antieau addressed the group.
"The idea for this -- we just picked a bunch of our favorite galleries from around the world to participate," he said. "There's some continuity in aesthetic -- a lowbrow feel and attention to craftsmanship."
Kirsten Anderson of Seattle's Roq La Rue gallery added: "The thing that unites all of us [in Littletopia] are artworks that are well crafted with sort of a dark, fantastical edge to it."
Andrew Hosner, co-owner of L.A.'s Thinkspace Gallery, which has made a name for itself showcasing emerging artists, spoke to the group about social media.
"[Artists] need a social media presence these days to connect with young collectors," he said. "It doesn't necessarily translate directly to sales; but it gets the artists seen."
The tour ended, appropriately, with a whiskey tasting hosted by Koval Distillery. But first, Albrecht's top three tips for beginning art collectors:
--"Look for a blue chip artist like Damien Hirst or Jim Dine and buy an early print of a multiple run. The later ones in the series -- like 15 of 15 -- are pricier a year later because they're now scarce."
--"For original, hand painted or handcrafted works, you want to find small but affordable pieces. They may not have much wall power, size wise, but they're within reach," she said. "I picked Littletopia because the pop surrealist/neo-contemporary movement has gotten a lot of traction in the past few years; and there's a lot of overlap with street art, which is common and popular in Los Angeles. So this kind of art is a good place to start."
--"Most important: buy what you love; because you're going to live with it and look at it every day, and you want some kind of emotional connection to it. Go with your gut instinct."