PREPARE YOUR SPACE
SPECIAL THANKS TO SOAD KADER, KEY CONTRIBUTOR
Regardless of your type of studio - private or part of a communal space, when you plan to open it up to guests, think about creating an inviting, memorable space to show and tell... and sell! Think about what your visitors will experience with all their senses: what do they see, hear, smell when moving through your studio? How do you want them to feel in your space? What would you like them to remember about their visit to your studio? Give yourself enough time for set-up and be ready with your plan and list of tasks. During and after the event, take notes about what you might do differently next time. It is always a learning, evolving process, just like the creation of the work itself!
- Clean all surfaces.
- Put all your materials and tools away. (Exception: You might have a work in progress or actually create a demo with work in different stages and tools/materials involved. People love to know the how of it all. A purposeful demo on a designated surface with signage is great.)
- Paint your studio walls (if needed). Create a fresh backdrop for your work.
- Sweep/Mop/Cover your floors.
- Think about rubber mats in areas where people will stand to look at your work. An area rug might also be nice. It makes the viewing experience more comfortable.
- Air out/ventilate your space. You want it to feel fresh in every way.
- Make your space easy to navigate.
- Move furniture to create a good flow of traffic through your space and to get it out of the way so people can get up close to the work you have hanging. Think about where people might stop to chat or sign the guestbook or get a refreshment and make those spots easy to move around or be in.
- Hide clutter if at all possible. That can include shelves full of books or items not at all related to the production of your work. It helps people focus their gaze on the artwork rather than everything else in the space. When people have too many things to look at, they can get overwhelmed, confused, and tired.
- You can use a room divider to hide a stack of stuff or a screen or curtain to cover up an area.
- Indicate Private space or space otherwise off-limits to guests: Keep door closed with a small note that says "Private", and tie a red ribbon on the doorknob. Drape ribbon or tape across areas you don't want folks to enter.
- Choose carefully the work you want to feature during your Open Studio event.
- Organize it by subject matter, series, or by another easily understood criteria.
- Show a range of work in terms of price points and sizes (if applicable).
- Keep extra inventory handy but out of sight. Having too much work on display can overwhelm a visitor, or make it hard to choose.
- Hang it well - like you might in a home or office environment to help people see the artwork in context.
- Feature - Choose the piece that you used for your advertising to hang in the most prominent place.
- Light it well - Provide the best lighting you can for each of your works.
- Halogen or LED track lighting is easy to install and looks professional.
- Well placed clamp lights can work as spotlights too.
- Pay attention to the temperature of your bulbs (daylight, soft, warm) since this can change the look of your work.
- Make sure you do not stress your circuits and blow a fuse.
- Keep the wires tidy and out of the way.
- Questions? Check the Facebook Resource Page and see what other artists are doing.
LABEL & PRICE
- Label each piece with title, medium, and price.
- Posting prices clearly helps put a client at ease. No one wants to guess!
- Put your name on every label to help viewers remember you with your work.
- If the work isn't for sale, say so. Label work in progress or not for sale. Make it clear for visitors to understand what you are showing and why.
- If you list dimensions, include frame.
- 14-point font or bigger is good for labels; don't make someone pull out their reading glasses!
- Consider having statements posted near applicable pieces or series. These can get conversation flowing and encourage the viewer to inquire about other pieces.
WELCOME & REFERENCE TABLE
- Flowers - a fresh bouquet, a potted flowering plant, or another decorative element.
- Guestbook with prompts for the information you need for your mailing list.
- Artist bio/artist statement/resume.
- Consider wearing a nametag.
- Consider a digital photo frame with images of your work.
- Business cards and/or postcards for people to take.
CHECK OUT/BUSINESS ZONE
Have a space set up with all you need to process a sale.
- Keep it very simple and clean - choose beverages and snacks that don't make a mess and could potentially make your space unsightly or damage work.
- Keep food and drinks away from the entrance so people have to walk through your studio to get to them.
- Limit your own alcohol intake; remember you are working and it's a long day.
- For most of Open Studios weekend, you may want to serve mostly soft drinks.
- Put out smallish servings of snacks. Remember to refresh them and clean the service plates when they get messy.
- Have a cooler or insulated bag for replenishment food.
- Consider whether you will need ice, napkins, cups, mugs, serving platters or bowls, serving knives for cheese, spoons, bottle openers, wine openers, wet wipes, Purell, sponge, paper towels, and a trash/recycling can. Will you use disposable or reusable glasses? Think it through and avoid a last minute run to the store!
- Any guidance you can provide to get people into and around your studio space is a good idea. Make it easy for people: "Please touch" (or don't). On their way out, a sign that says "Thank you for coming" or anything that directs them or lightens the mood, makes them seen and appreciated.
- Building SIGNAGE - Work with your neighbors to cross-promote or share advertising to maximize your budget. Balloons have become one of the symbols of SF Open Studios, so they are always a good idea. Consider using clear and easy-to-read signs, arrows, or professionally-made banners outside of your studio entrance.
Try to enter your space with fresh eyes or ask a friend to help check if you missed anything or if something seems out of place. How does your space look and feel? There are so many details to manage and sometimes it helps to get an outside perspective to see anew and be sure you are presenting your best.
- Be sure to get yourself ready as well - what will you wear? How will it look in your space and in front of your work? Be both comfortable and sharp.
- Be well rested and well hydrated leading up to the big weekend.
- Plan how/what/when you will eat your meals.
- Enlist trusted helpers from friends and family to ease the load of carrying artwork, installing, and even talking to visitors if you need to take a break.
- You need to be functioning at your best so you can get the most out of all your interactions with your guests.
- Remember to have fun!