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The down and dirty guide

There is a lot you can do to prepare for a great Open Studio, but sometimes it feels overwhelming. Don't give up. If you are feeling crunched, remember it can be as simple as this:

  • Register for Open Studios.
  • Have a place to show.
  • Clean it.
  • Have some art to show.
  • Tell your friends.
  • Get some treats.
  • Have a way to sell.
  • Have a way to collect information.
  • Say thanks to folks who came.


BUT now...

Open Studios is what YOU make it. You don’t need a big budget, a giant studio, or years of experience to create a great event. That said, a little investment goes a long way. So look at the following guide and plan out where you want to invest some time, effort and money.


The Kick it up a notch guide

Staying ready

  • Keep your mailing list up to date. Email for everyone. Street addresses for collectors.
  • Have your artwork professionally photographed.
  • Make notes of things you like and don’t like at exhibits and open studios you attend. What might work for you?
  • Look at prices for comparable work. Do you feel comfortable with your prices?
  • Keep an eye out for publications where you might want to advertise, or that might feature you. Gather their information. Often print ad deadlines are months ahead of publication.


Get set

  • Check on deadlines to register! Premier Artist registration, which includes a listing and photograph of your work in the printed guide, is an earlier deadline than Basic Artist registration.
  • Create a budget for your event. It should be a number that you are comfortable with. Thinking it through early will keep you from being caught off guard by unplanned expenses.



  • Are you showing with other artists? Pool your resources! Marketing as a group is a great way to magnify your impact, but you need to organize early for best effects.
  • Planning any major changes to your studio? Get that out of the way now.



  • Do you know which pieces you're going to show?
  • Has all the artwork you plan on showing been photographed?
  • Update your ArtSpan online portfolio with impressive, fresh new content.
  • Do you need to order any finishing or framing materials?  



  • Design your postcard and have it printed early!
  • Start announcing your OS plans on social media.
  • Are you going to have a preview party? Promote it.
  • Send the details to ArtSpan so they can promote it too.
  • Attend events like First Thursday, Art Murmur, and Museum Nights. Bring your postcards.



  • Email your list and invite them to your Open Studios and Preview Party.
  • Create a Facebook Event, Instagram your work and your process, Tweet, etc.
  • Mail your postcards to your mailing list.
  • Are you prepared to make sales by check or credit card?



  • Email your list again with an invitation.
  • Exchange postcards with other artists to cross promote.
  • Social media blast on Facebook, Instagram, Twitters, blogs, Pinterest, etc.
  • Promote your friends’ Open Studios on your social media, and encourage them to do the same. The more awareness there is, the better it is for everybody!
  • Consider making a sandwich board.



  • Clean your studio, store away personal items and valuables, & de-clutter.
  • Paint walls, hang art.
  • Shop for non-perishable food and beverages.
  • Print your bio, artist statement, pricelists, & labels.
  • Make sure you have petty cash for making change.
  • Email your list - a reminder: "It's this weekend!"



  • Use social media to share pictures of your studio all pretty and set up to entice visitors.
  • If you're not holding a preview party, visit people who are. Bring your postcards.



  • Go out for coffee in the morning. Bring your postcards.
  • Get your balloons inflated with helium. (They really help.)
  • Place your sandwich board or signage and balloons out front.
  • Arrange for a friend to relieve you during the day for a quick break. Don't forget to eat!
  • Downtime? Post about the day so far; take pictures with your visitors. If you're too busy, awesome!



  • Go out for coffee again. Bring your postcards again!
  • Arrange for a friend to relieve you during the day for a quick break. Don't forget to eat!
  • Enjoy your guests. Breathe. Be brilliant.



  • Add new contacts to your mailing list.
  • Send them thank you notes and letters.
  • Make notes of what worked and what didn't for your next SF Open Studios event.
  • Compile any data you may have gathered about how people heard about your Open Studio to use in planning your next marketing effort.
  • Go make more art!
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