How to get the best out of Open Studios
From an article in Frequency magazine 2009 written by Benoit Philippe
Information for participating artists
Open Studios is about bringing the public and artists together.
You can learn a lot just by watching how people react and listening to their comments. People are curious about the way artists work, their techniques, materials and the processes they use, and the story behind a particular work.
One way to make their visit memorable is to give some demonstrations throughout the day.
Promote Open Studios yourself.
Send as many invitations as possible, either electronically or by post.
Use your website, or blog if you have one, to spread the word in advance. On the day take some photographs of your final set-up for use in your future promotion.
Have copies of your resume, artist's statement, some business cards and any forthcoming events.
Consider displaying a copy of your portfolio with any media coverage you received and photographs of your works.
Encourage visitors to leave their contact details in a visitor's book. In accordance with privacy law, you need to ask for their permission in order to contact them later on. A simple statement 'Please tick if you do not want further information' should make things easier.
The first rule is to have at least one person with you at all times, this way you will be more relaxed when talking to your visitors, and you will be able to take breaks from time to time.
Areas off-limits should be clearly marked and valuables put away. Carry out a safety assessment in your studio; tape down any loose electrical leads; mark low doorways, steps and uneven pavements. An Artists Newsletter subscription gives you public liability insurance cover, alternatively put up signs warning people they enter at their own risk.
Make it easy for your visitors
Your studio should be easy to find and visitors guided by the event signs. Is there sufficient parking space for your visitors? (It's a good idea to let your neighbours know.. and to invite them at the same time) Wear a name tag so visitors can find you, and will feel they can talk to you.
Label all your works with their title, medium and price (if for sale)
Have some blank sales receipts ready, plenty of small change and a supply of 'red dot' stickers for works that you have sold. If possible have someone to handle the sales for you and carry money etc. Make sure you get complete details from your buyers on the invoice in case of a problem and to keep your inventory of works up-to-date. It is best to mark the work that has been sold with a red dot and arrange for its delivery after the end of the Open Studios event because this will keep your display intact and will show visitors that you have sold some works. Low value items such as postcards are a useful way of generating sales, possibly using an internet based company like www.moo.com
Refreshments and simple snacks are optional, but a good way to keep visitors longer in your studio.
After the event, follow-up with your visitors by sending some 'Thank you' notes and update your mailing list with the new contacts you have collected. Take note of what went well and what did not and make some check lists for next time.
Open Studios is a good networking opportunity, and it is good to visit other studios if you can. Above all: have fun!