Frequently Asked Questions about SF Open Studios


Who can participate in SF Open Studios?

If you are an artist living and/or practicing in San Francisco you are eligible to register for SF Open Studios (SFOS). SF Open Studios is a non-juried art event. Each artist must first be a current artist member of ArtSpan then register online individually, submit all materials by the appropriate deadline, and display and sell current original artwork, made by him/herself on the appropriate weekend.

When does SF Open Studios take place?

SF Open Studios takes place during October and November. The schedule of neighborhoods by weekend changes from year to year; we take into account many different variables including local events, rental availabilities, geographic and density factors, and artist feedback. An active committee of SF Open Studios artists, representing a range of neighborhoods, communities, and artistic practices, approves the schedule. 

Where does SF Open Studios take place?

SF Open Studios takes place in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco. The event is city-wide and spans locations from North Beach to Ocean Beach. Some studios are part of multi-artist collectives or group sites, others are home studios nestled into neighborhoods. Some out-of-town artists even take up temporary exhibition space in the city in order to participate.

How many artists participate?

Between 800 and 1000 artists participate in SF Open Studios each year.


Why should I participate in SF Open Studios?

Top 5 Reasons to do SFOS, straight from the artist’s mouth (SFOS Artist Survey Quotes):

  • Motivation - "It forces me to reorganize and clean my studio, create new work, and have a goal to work toward each year."
  • Marketing - "Exposure to soooo many art fans."
  • Community - "Talking to new and returning collectors who 'get' what I'm doing."
  • Sales - "Seeing first-time buyers light up with excitement from their purchase."
  • Feedback - "Regardless of sales, the audience reaction to my work and the conversation that my artwork sparked."

What is the difference between Premier and Basic Registration?

Basic registration includes participation in the SFOS event, inclusion in online promotion, and a host of member benefits. Premier registration includes all of the benefits of the Basic registration and also includes an artist image, contact information, and location in the printed SF Open Studios Guide (distribution 20,000), as well as eligibility for a (20 inches x 20 inches) spot in the SF Open Studios Exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center. Click here for the complete list of Premier and Basic registration benefits.

Schedule/ Studio Location

What if I’m not sure which weekend I’m in?

If your neighborhood is not listed, or if your studio falls on a border between neighborhoods, give us a call before you register and we can help determine which weekend you are in. We can be reached at (415) 861-9838 or [email protected].

I don't have a place to show. Can ArtSpan help find me a location to participate?

Craigslist, message boards at artist group sites, ArtSpan's Facebook group, and word of mouth are common ways that artists find places to show in SF. Some locations, rent space to artists specifically for the SFOS event. Some businesses host artists for the weekend. If you are looking for space to show your work during SF Open Studios or if you are looking for artists to show their work in your space, email [email protected]. Please note that while ArtSpan cannot guarantee placement for anyone during SF Open Studios, we endeavor to facilitate connections between artists and spaces in San Francisco.

What is the difference between a group site and an individual site? Which is better?

A group site is any location where five (5) or more artists are participating at the same location. The benefit of being part of a group site, is that the group site name is included in your Guide listing and on the Guide map. Examples include 1890 Bryant Street Studios, Hunters Point Shipyard, and many others. All artists at group sites must register individually to be included in the Guide. New group sites should contact ArtSpan to be added to the list so the group site name appears as an option in the registration form. An individual site is any site where an individual artist is opening their studio. Examples can include home studios, storefronts, offices, and even mobile art trucks!

Every studio is unique and there are benefits to both group sites and individual sites. Group sites give artists the benefit of centralized promotion and often experience higher foot traffic. Individual sites offer the public a more intimate and often more unique experience. ArtSpan highly recommends that artists in individual sites meet other participating artists in their area and get their neighbors involved. Contact ArtSpan at [email protected] to let us introduce you to your neighboring artists so you can network and promote each others SFOS events. There is no difference in the registration fee for either type of site.

Can I participate in more than one weekend?

Yes! You are welcome to register for two weekends if you have two locations to show your work in different neighborhoods on separate SF Open Studios weekends. You must register for both weekends at the same time. There are discounted rates for your second registration. If you opt to register for two Premier registrations, you will have two images of your artwork in the Guide and two artworks in the SF Open Studios Exhibition.


All registrations for SF Open Studios (SFOS) are processed online.  If you need help, give us a call at (415) 861-9838 or email [email protected]

What if I’m a “non-techie” and can’t register online?

We are happy to help you register over the phone or in person. Just give us a call at (415) 861-9838 or email [email protected] to make an appointment. Please do not just walk in.

Watch the SF Open Studios 2019 Registration Tutorial Here:

How do I log into my account to register?

If you have participated in SF Open Studios in the past, you already have an account. Log in to your account, make sure that you have a current Artist Membership, and then register. If you need to reset your password, click here.  If you are a new participant, click here to create your account.

Can I submit my Guide artwork image later?

No, you need to submit your image at the same time as your payment and studio information. Please plan ahead if you will need help.  If your image is not received by the deadline, your studio information will not appear in the printed guide.  Here are some tips on picking and preparing a great guide image.

Do I need to know where my studio will be located when I register?

You must submit your studio address (and studio name if applicable) when you purchase your registration. Once you submit it, it can only be changed by an ArtSpan administrator, so please do your best to finalize this information.  If your location unexpectedly changes after the final deadline, let us know as soon as possible by contacting [email protected] or (415) 861-9838. 

How do I register a group site?

When you register online, select the group site option, start typing the name of your group site, and then select your site from the drop down list. If your site does not appear on the list, contact us at [email protected] so that we can add your group site to our list. You must have 5 or more registered artists to qualify as a group site.

Who should I contact if I need help?

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at (415) 861-9838 or [email protected]. We are here to help!


Is there financial aid?

Yes, if you are low-income or part of a federal assistance program you may qualify for discounted membership. Artists with a gross household income that is less than $35,000, assets that are less than $3,000, or participation in a federal assistance program may be eligible. Learn how to apply for financial aid.

Is there a student rate?

ArtSpan offers discounted SF Open Studios registration rates for full-time students. Artists who are currently enrolled in an accredited school to qualify. Learn how to apply for the studen rate.


If an artist or venue hosts other artists, each artist must be a registered participant with ArtSpan. There are no refunds on registration and membership fees. Each artist is responsible for managing their studio during SF Open Studios and that ArtSpan is not responsible in any way. ArtSpan reserves the right to photograph the artist, event space, and artwork for publicity, documentation, and fundraising purposes. Terms subject to change.


Should I buy an ad in the Guide? Is there an artist discount?

Advertising in the SF Open Studios Guide is one of the most effective ways to reach the thousands of people touring SFOS. Distributed around the Bay Area, the Guide functions as a year-round resource that serves art collectors, art dealers, restaurant owners, interior designers, and other enthusiasts who want to contact artists directly. Artist groups often purchase a single ad together in order to split the cost. Basic and Premier artists receive a 35% discount on all ad prices. Contact ArtSpan for the promo code once you've registered. For full pricing and information, click here.

Where is the Guide distributed?

The Guide is distributed at various locations throughout the Bay Area, including over 500 locations in San Francisco alone. Participating artists are a huge force behind Guide distribution and help drop them off at many locations such as coffee shops, galleries, local businesses and others. ArtSpan also works with a company to do big drops at studio sites, art stores, and other major locations.

What other promotion does ArtSpan do for SF Open Studios?

ArtSpan does extensive online promotion through social media (FacebookTwitter, and Instagram), our eNewsletter, listings on major event calendar sites, and through the online Guide. We also run ads in print outlets (such as The Chronicle, Asterisk Magazine, and SFAQ), advertising on kiosks, Muni buses, and billboards, send postcard mailings to 10,000 recipients, tabling at public events across San Francisco, and engage in cross-promotion with local arts partners. We work closely with a PR person to land featured articles about SF Open Studios and SF Open Studios artists in major publications, online and in print.

Do I need to do my own promotion?

Absolutely! The most successful open studios events often come to artists who do organized, consistent self-promotion. Resources and promo tips can be found in the SFOS Artist Marketing Toolkit and as part of the Make Your Art Your Business Workshops.

What is an SF Open Studios Hub and how can I get involved?

Learn all about SFOS Hub Exhibitions here. If you are a SF Open Studios artist who is interested in exhibiting at a SF Open Studios Hub (you must be registered at a studio location first), or if you are a business interested in hosting an SF Open Studios Hub Exhibition, please email [email protected].


Once I’m registered, what should I do to start getting prepared?

Go to the SFOS Artist Marketing Toolkit for helpful information, including a timeline, business practices, a to-do list and promotional tips leading up to SF Open Studios. 

Read the Resource page on our website.

Join the SF Artist Resource Group on Facebook, for great peer to peer tips.

Do I need a business license or reseller’s permit?

If you are making sales at your SFOS you may need to get certain permits to comply with state and federal requirements. Check out these helpful links for more information: Seller's permit & Registering a business.

Do I need to charge sales tax at my open studios?

It is your responsibility to collect and report sales tax for any sales made in your studio. Visit the California Board of Equalization for full information.


Pictured above: Mirang Wonne