Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Open Studios

Ben Morse standing next to his macro photos.
Every year San Francisco holds it's open studios in October that is sponsored by Artspan. This having been my eighth one that I've participated in, having visited MANY studios during the years, and having recently read a lot of articles on what makes a good open studios, I've come up with some suggestions that have helped me have a successful event.

Rosemarie Hughes-Croucher and Larry Vassan showing off work in their studios.

1. Research which galleries you would like to show at and see if they are a right fit. If they are, send them an invite at least two weeks in advance. You never know when one will stop by and it's a good excuse to get your name out there.

2. If you have a home studio and it's convenient, find a local artist space where they can rent you some space for the event. Having open studios in a space like this allows you to benefit from other artists' contact lists who will also be invited. You are also more likely to get a larger group of people visiting since people like to go to fewer locations with more artists. Seeing many artists in one space is a lot less intimidating to the average person than going to a person's home studio. In addition, it's just a lot more fun for you and you can see other people's art and get some feedback from other artists also showing.

3. Advertise on social networking sites. Sites like Facebook usually charge a minimal amount for advertising and we know there are a lot of people on those sites. Twitter about it. Update your status and write about the upcoming event. Write about the event as you are there. take pictures and post them. If your open studios is for more than one day, as San Francisco is, you may get someone who reads and sees your posts that may just want to come out and see what all the hub bub is about.

4. Clean your space. No one wants to climb over panels or feel cramped cause there is no place to stand. A clean studio may not be something that you're used to, but it's all about how you present your work. Also, don't serve snacks next to any sort of painting supplies, like turpentine or adhesives. You'd be surprised...

5. Display your work nicely. This means hang your artwork straight on a wall that is preferably white. Have clear labels or a price list. I find it intimidating to talk about prices and I know a lot of people hate asking how much something is in these situations so make life easier. Have your prices available.

6. Make sure your artist statement is in view, along with your resume. People like to see that you have a reason for what you do and that your work is worth investing in. Be ready to answer questions about your process and your reasoning behind what you do.

7. Don't be afraid to have an "Open Studios Only" sale. I usually mark my work 20% off. People like knowing they are getting a special deal. Everyone loves a "bargain". Just be sure that if you are represented by a gallery, don't price below your prices there. They really don't like it when you undercut them and they will find out.

8. During the event, make sure you make eye contact and acknowledge everyone who stops by. There's nothing worse than an artist who looks like he's too busy to talk to you. Reading a book or talking on the phone is not inviting. Don't spend all of your time talking to your friends. You can see them anytime. Use this time to make new contacts and possibly some sales. Be friendly and positive. Nobody likes a sourpuss.

9. Make sure you have postcards, business cards, and a mailing list readily available. Snacks are good too. I find peanut butter filled pretzels a big hit.

10. Thank everyone for stopping by, even if they just walked by without really looking and just ate your food. Being polite goes a long way.

Melisa Philips in her studio.

Rebekah Goldstein and studio visitors.