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W Hotels x Mambo Creatives HANDS ON SAND Art Basel Dance Party
Photograph: Sansho Scott/BFA.comW Hotels x Mambo Creatives HANDS ON SAND Art Basel Dance Party

The six types of people you’ll see during Art Basel Miami Beach

Which one of them are you?

Ashley Brozic
Written by
Ashley Brozic

The first week of December is the most exciting time of the year. It’s Miami Art Week, baby, and the energy is electric! The tents rise, the galleries open, the brands do brand-y things but, most notably, the crowds roll in. They come from all over: New York, Los Angeles, South America, Europe and did we already say New York? They come to see and be seen, to schmooze and make the rounds at all the best Art Basel parties and pop-ups. They might also check out some art, if there’s time.

Despite its vague air of exclusion, Art Week is truly for everyone, and that becomes very apparent as you bounce around different Miami neighborhoods throughout the week. Who you’ll see (and what you’ll wear) in the Design District is much different than who you’ll find in Wynwood. In the mood to get yourself acquainted? For better or worse, these are the various types of people and personalities you’ll encounter across Miami as Art Basel and its seismic vibrations take hold.

Art Basel Miami Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Art Basel Miami Beach/Scott Rudd

The Big Money

Miami Beach

The beach is a mixed bag during Miami Art Week, but if you’ve made it here—whether by plane, car, helicopter or boat—welcome back! Early in the week is when you’ll find the serious collectors and schmoozers. (Or you won’t because you’re definitely not on whatever list they are). They’re most likely from Not Here and—would you look at that! They just went in over asking for a small mansion on the water, sight unseen! Anyway, we digress.

After hitting up the VIP fair openings to scope out blue-chip pieces for their new homes, you’ll find them hopping from brand-sponsored party to party, emailing publicists for another plus one as they wait in traffic, only to complain about how much traffic there is this year when they arrive. They might fly out on Saturday, but if they don’t, they’ve already made brunch plans at Mandolin.

Wynwood Walls - Nika Kramer
Photograph: Nika Kramer

The Art Tourists


They didn’t come to see art, they came to “Basel,” as in, the verb form of the word—and in Wynwood, of all places. That’s because they believe this neighborhood still has actual galleries with real art inside. They’ll wander around aimlessly taking selfies in front of the same murals that exist year-round, failing to notice any of the buzzy Art Week installations or brand pop-ups because they didn’t reference any guide beyond Trip Advisor. They will end up paying the Miami Art Week inflation rate at clubs like Rackét or Dirty Rabbit, because what else is there to do? In the end, they’ll say they’re never coming back to Wynwood again… until next year.

Design District
Photograph: Danielle Margherite

The Models-Slash-Influencers

Design District

They are expressly here for the FASH-UN, honey—and, of course, the content. Whether they belong to the cults of Gucci or Prada, Off-White or Amiri, they care less about buying canvases than they do becoming one. You’ll see them in full plumage and strut on Wednesday and Thursday as they clickety-clack to every private, in-store cocktail hour, where they’ll trade intel about which parties they were invited to. They’ll ask if you’re going, to which you’ll respond (very casually), “Not this year.” Because your invite got lost in the mail, naturally.

Fountainhead Art Membership
Photograph: Courtesy Fountainhead

The Art Locals

Little River

They don’t need to be on the list; they know the artist. Actually, they are the artist. Everyone here’s got their own creative hustle going on. You’ll find this crowd sipping natty wine at their friend's opening and catching a DJ set at the warehouse afterparty nearby, which you’d know about if only you were more cool-but-not-trying-to-be on Instagram. The point is, they’re “taking things slow this year” and “Basel is so overrated.” So, under very few circumstances will you find them anywhere south of I-195.

NADA Miami 2019
Photograph: Casey Kelbaugh

The Tent Dwellers


NADA, Art Miami, Art Wynwood—there’s not much else around to distract people from actually seeing art, so these curious enthusiasts are enjoying a day under the tents at the best Art Basel satellite fairs. There’s no specific crowd here, just a mix of informed locals, hip out-of-towners, people who have already checked out the South Beach fairs and those who somehow scored a free ticket to Art Miami.  Time it right and you might spot the zombies leaving Space at 11am, because why not also turn Miami Art Week into the First Coming of Miami Music Week?

Yappy Hour Coconut Grove BID
Photograph: Courtesy Coconut Grove BID

The Nouveau Bohème

Coconut Grove

They’re rich, relaxed and didn’t even know Basel was happening! Even if they did, they wouldn’t care, because Saturdays are for al fresco brunch with family, friends and dogs. Plus, they’ve already got a Picasso and a Koons at home. Either that or they just read up on all of Miami’s newly Michelin-recognized restaurants and discovered that—surprise! A bunch of them are located in this leafy waterfront enclave with a rich art history of its own.

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