Everyone loves a party, but a party hosted by an artist where you’re surrounded by fabulous art and delicious snacks sounds extrafun.
Hosting your own open studio event can be a fun and inexpensive way of selling a lot of art, as well as getting people from your local community interested in what you do. If you have a home studio large enough to host a few people, you could experience more sales in a weekend then you’ve seen all year! Here’s how to create an open studio event:
Set up your open studio
Create invitations and send them out to friends and family—you can even give them extra copies to give to their friends. Also send invitations to local media, other artists, place stacks in art galleries, museums, and art centres, put up on community websites, and invite any other social groups you think might be interested.
One sculptor I know who hosted an open studio was nearly blind, so she invited her local blindness community to come along and “see” her sculptures by touching them. Since it’s so rare to be able to touch artworks in a gallery setting, she had an amazing turnout to her open studio!
The invitation should give a clue to the tone of the event (fancy or relaxed) and explain what the event is about. Ask guests to RSVP, since this will give you an idea of numbers and makes people feel more obliged to attend.
The week before your event, give your studio a good clean out to remove or disguise any rubbish. However, leave all your equipment and work-in-progress intact, unless they’re dangerous or delicate—the point of an open studio, after all, is seeing the artist “at work!”
Choose your best pieces to display, and make sure each one is labelled and priced. You may need to add some extra lighting to ensure each piece is given the attention it deserves. Have some high-priced items and a range of lower cost pieces, too—small paintings, prints, postcards and even jewelry will sell well to those who want to buy something but can’t afford a larger piece.
Finally, place your business cards and a guestbook near the front door for people to add their names to your mailing list.
Make people want to stay
Once you’ve got them in the door, the key to a successful open studio is to make people stick around long enough to be tempted to walk home with an artwork under each arm.
Make your open studio feel like a party. Serve an array of food and drinks in a beautifully designed table setting.
Consider having entertainment, such as a musician or band playing. You can tailor the type of entertainment to the style of your artwork and the theme of your event. I once went to an open studio for a group of artists who were exploring the human figure—they’d hired dancers, body painted them, and had them spread out on tables with sushi and dips arranged around them. It sure made a night I’ll never forget!
Ask for help!
As the artist you’re going to be busy all night, so employ a close friend or relative to act as an assistant topping up the snacks, offering drinks, taking care of sales and packaging of art, and helping greet people when you get too busy. Trying to do everything yourself will result in one tired artist. . . and too many unattended guests.
As you can see, open studios can be an excellent way of promoting your art in a big way without huge upfront costs. Take a look at your home studio—could you host an open studio event there soon? If so, give it a shot!