The series continues! Today I offer a few insights about the road signs provided by our local open studio tours.
If you have questions, you can contact the “signs” steering committee chair(s) for info about where/how/why to put signs. I’m no expert on this, and I rely on the map for sign placement for my studio from another longtime tour member. (Thank you, Serena Hazard!)
Short story/basic instructions: Put signs near your studio with arrows pointing to the right place. Put signs at major intersections to guide people through. Use signs on major roads/highways for guidance and to announce our tours. (DO NOT put signs on city/county/state equipment such as telephone poles, highway signs, traffic lights, etc.) Coordinate with other artists in your area to keep directions simpler. And cluster signs (when you combine your studio numbers with other artists in your building or neighborhood) are powerful, too. You can use wire H-frames, wood stakes, rebar, etc. to hold signs.
With all the new ways we can navigate with our cell phones today, it may seem unnecessary to plant road signs out there. But they can really help if your studio is in a complex or area where roads, turns, and lots of buildings in one location (like mine!) can confuse people.
And when we place a few of our signs on major roads/highways/thoroughfares near our location, people “just passing by” find it appealing–and easy!–to take a turn and come visit us. (Again, see road rules above.
My setback this year was….someone took some of my signs. Ugh! ARGH!!
Long story short: I haven’t found two of them. But I found someone else’s lost signs and delivered them back to the artist.
And when I asked others about their experience with missing signs, I got lots of stories.
One person said one of their signs near a busy commercial property disappeared. They suspect a very popular taco truck owner may have taken it down. The truck has been there a long time, they take up a sizeable section of the parking lot, and they may have felt the sign competed with their own business. (Food vs. open studio?? Who knows. Why not…both?)
Sometimes neighbors take them down. Again, who knows why? Maybe they felt they were a detraction to their neighborhood, or too close to their house. I have thoughts, but they are negative ones and I’ll keep ’em to myself!) (Hint: Envy?)
Sometimes another artist takes them down, and reuses them for their location. (Not all artists, of course, and very rare. But there’s always someone who’d rather take yours than pay for their own.)
And another artist said there’s a person who ocasionally steals signs for no discernible reason.
Mine were on a highway, and sometimes those are taken down, though I was careful NOT to attach them to any stoplights, telephone poles, and other off-limits stuff.
My favorite suggestion I was told about mine? A homeless person might have taken them!
I had to think about that. My studio is very close to a walking trail that has historically held huge homeless encampments. And I’m also close to the largest homeless shelter in Northern California, where clients have to leave during the day, and even people who aren’t sheltering there still camp/hang around near there.
Here’s why this suggestion actually opened my heart:
If someone needs protection from rain, and my sign keeps them dry, I’m okay with that. Still frustrating, of course, but I have sympathy.
The people at the shelter? They have CHOSEN to take assistance, counseling, resources, chosen to take those first steps to start being rehomed. They often resist because they want freedom, even with the scary, uncomfortable consequences of living on the street. For those who home at that shelter, I applaud their courage. And if my $8 sign keeps them dry, I’m okay with that.
And at our first kick-off meeting for another tour last night, I found something that helped even more:
My partner and I had put up a sign at a busy intersection to guide people to my studio. It was windy and the sign wobbled a lot. We did our best, but had to move on.
But when my husband went back to check on it, some kind person had added heavier wire stakes to it to stabilize it. WOW!!! And YAY!!!!
I was talking to another artist after the meeting, and after expressing frustration at losing two signs, I mentioned that the fact someone had taken the time to fix that sign lifted my heart.
And it turned out the person I was sharing this with was the person who fixed/restaked it! (Thank you, Katy Kruzic!)
You KNOW how much I love having visitors to my studio! It’s the single more powerful way for people to connect with my artwork, my creative space, my stories, and me.
So it is with heavy heart that I announce I will NOT be open for the annual Art Trails Sonoma County open studio tour this year.
I am always open by appointment, of course, and will be for the tour.
But due to health concerns, and the size of my indoor space, I can’t be open to the general public those two weekends.
I fell in my studio two weeks before I had knee replacement surgery at the end of June. I was already scheduled for physical therapy for my knee, but had to wait almost two months to be scheduled for the fall. (I sort of displaced my sacroiliac joint, and suffererd constant, dull, never-ending pain for months. NOT FUN.)
Thank heavens for physical therapy. I’m healing, and feeling better.
But I still can’t even be in my studio for more than 3-4 hours at a time, I can’t stand for long periods of time, and frankly, I’m freaked out at the Delta variant with Covid-19. (I’m vaccinated, but it’s still scary.)
Keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll all find our way through this repeat of 2020 (DANG!!!) And when we do, I will host my open-to-everyone studio events again.
On the other hand, I’ve been asked to participate in a two-artist show at Corrick’s on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, for the month of Octoboer, with local artist Teri Sloat. And now I’ll have time to create some new work for it! I was on a roll making mini-shrines for the past 18 months, hit a wall, and I’m now on a roll again. (Yay!)
Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you DO commit to an appointment, you can visit my listing on StudioDoorz and request an in-person visit. Or find my contact info at the Art Trails website. (I’m studio #64.) Or if you already have my contact info, email or text me for same. (Don’t call! I am swamped with robo-calls!)
I will be open from noon to 4 this Saturday, August 3.
I think there will be other artists in my building at 33Arts at 3840 Finley AVE (aka “The Barracks”, a former naval air base recently transformed into artist studios.) “First Saturday” is a monthly event, started with Studio Santa Rosa, the art studios in the building across the parking lot from us.
So you get two buildings full of art for the price of one! Er….the event is free, of course.
I have new work in jewelry, but I’m preparing to restock five galleries in New Hampshire (part of the League of NH Craftsmen’s network).
Come tell me if I’ve managed to provide a cohesive body of work for each one! Oh, and one pair of earrings is for my sister back in Michigan, so you can’t have those. (But I can always make you a similar pair.)
Third Friday Open Studios (THIS Friday!) at Fulton Crossing! 5-8pm
1200 River Road, just west of the intersection of Fulton and River Roads (hence, “Fulton Crossing”. Hence!) About half a mile WEST from Exit 494 off 101, on the south side of River RD.
If you haven’t been to Fulton Crossing lately (or never), you are in for a wonderful surprise!
I’m sharing a studio space with another artist. I have new jewelry, new small wall- and table-top framed shadow boxes, and more in process.
This large building complex has completely morphed into a spacious, light-filled art space. Three huge galleries feature the artwork of many area artists, and is also the new of of Becoming Independent. Over a dozen artists in nine studios create art ranging from paintings (landscapes, wildlife, still lifes, portraits), furniture, metal sculpture, art jewelry, art glass and ceramic work.
Fulton Crossing is a working metaphor, proof that not only does art transform lives, it transforms our exterior landscapes, too–literally!
Come visit us this Friday evening, from 5-8, for an art adventure. Bring your family! We’d love to see you! My little animal artifacts are child-friendly because, well, I have kids, too. And I know how important it is to show them what is possible in the world.
And if you miss us, the building is open to the public on weekends from 12-5, although fewer artists will be there.
So if you LOVE seeing artists in person, be there or be square! :^)
Today I only had a little time to spend at my studio in the SOFA Santa Rosa Arts District. (I’m at 300 S. A Street, #3, just down Atlas Coffee Alley.) This, after an entire morning of last-minute tasks, re-do’s, oh-I-forgot-I-have-to’s…. Every time I thought I was ready to leave, I’d remember one more thing…. Argh!!
When I finally got there, I unlocked my door and entered.
Then I realized I didn’t have what I needed to work on my next project. Drat.
Here’s where the magic happens:
A woman appeared. “I’m admiring your window!” she said. “Are dogs allowed?”
What dog?? Oh. There, hidden by the bottom half of my Dutch door, was a sweet, very friendly dog.
I let them in.
“We’re visiting that photography show at Christie Marks’ gallery,” she explained. “I have the dog while my husband takes a look. Then he’ll take the dog so I can see it!”
We talked a little about the show (which is AMAZING!) Then I left her alone to browse my studio. (I got to pet the pup.)
Reminding you that this weekend is still Art Trails, and my studio is open!
I have been reminded by various people/organizers/mentors that I need to remind you again about this weekend’s open studio. Sonoma County Art Trails 2015 runs two weekends, and this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 & 18, 10-5) is the last.
I’m bad at arm-twisting, except for bugging my husband. So I don’t WANT to bug you. But I know I really should.
So if you came my studio last weekend, THANK YOU!!!!! (If you bought something, you are my new best friend.)
If, while you were here, you thought to yourself, “You know, so-and-so would LOVE this”, well, now’s you’re chance to bring them by. (If you hated it, please keep that to yourself. I’m easily hurt.)
If you wished you could visit again, by all means, come on by!
If you forgot, or didn’t have time, this is your last chance for awhile. So git on down here!
Studio #30. In the SOFA Arts District in Santa Rosa, California. In the buildings just south of Julliard Park, on South A Street.
I’m down what is affectionately but unofficially known as “Atlas Coffee Alley.” Because it’s an alley, which leads to Atlas Coffee Company. And there’s a sandwich sign at the head of the alley noting same.
I’ve rearranged a few things, and I may have a new piece or two already. But I did not dust or sweep. (Artistic license.)
And I’d love to see you here. I mean, there. At my studio.
Oh, yeah! She has that Open Studio thing next weekend!
Yes! Yes, I do. And you’re invited!
I’m on the Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour (aka “FFAST”). Next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13, from 10-5, here at 271 Roxbury ST in Keene NH. (1/2 mile east of downtown Keene, long tall white house with pillars, studio is in the big red barn at the end of the driveway.)
Come see new work: Refurbished antique box displays with art jewelry and sculpture. You can wear it, and you can display it, it looks GREAT either way.
In addition to the my usual work, I will have work for sale I don’t have at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair (aka “Sunapee Fair”)–monoprints, gemstone jewelry, vintage button jewelry.
I will demonstrate simple jewelry-making techniques. In fact, if you have a favorite piece of jewelry that’s broken or you’ve lost a favorite earring, bring in the survivor. Maybe I can turn it into a pendant or a bracelet for you.
I always have interesting snacks (rarely healthy, but I may have some carrots & stuff for you more disciplined folks.) And I always have coffee, hot cider, tea and W*I*N*E.
We are moving to California, hopefully before next winter. I can’t possibly move my entire studio. So there will also be some sale items, giveaways, odds and ends for sale. If we drink enough wine, who knows what I’ll be selling?? :^)
Come browse, hang out, chat while I work, eat, drink, the merry-making thing. Bring your friends! Bring your co-workers! Bring your family! Bring your dogs! (Wait. Don’t bring dogs.)
See…All my scissors in one place!
See….More beads and buttons that you’ve ever seen! See…A clean studio! (No fair peeking behind stuff or underneath stuff.)
Yes, Bunster is still with us. She’s not loose in the studio too more–she kept running into things. But you can still visit her in her big comfy cage and feed her Cheerios.
Last year, a fellow artist and I put on Keene’s very first open studio tour, the Keene Art Tour.
Few things in life are harder than getting a couple dozen artists together (figuratively), collecting checks (Paypal button next year!), gathering images and artist statements for the brochure (“Just take it from my website!”) and everything else entailed in creating a city-wide event. Fortunately, it was hugely successful, for visitors and artists alike.
The only thing harder?
Doing it again.
Artists forget how good the crowds were, how much they sold and how much fun they had. That’s normal. Artists, being human beings, are sort of hard-wired to only remember the hard work, the studio cleaning, and how much we hassled them for said images, statements and money.
I’m learning that as a show organizer, “getting an early start” this year really means, “Let’s spend longer trying to get the same components together as last year.” That’s a good lesson to learn.
Some of the cold feet-itis is understandable, too. The last few years have been hard for creative folks. Some have hunkered down, some have moved on, some have diversified, and others are in that awful stage known as “transition”–moving on from what we’ve done while not quite knowing what’s next. Change is hard, and rarely fun.
“I don’t have anything to sell!” says one artist. Another says, “The kind of work I do, I don’t have ‘things’ to sell. So why would I want to have an open studio??” “I don’t have any new work!” says another. “I might be busy that weekend. When do I have to let you know?” (The answer to this question, by the way, is “Two months ago.”)
So here’s my response to all these questions:
An Open Studio isn’t just about selling your work. It’s about telling your story.
It’s the strongest way to form a powerful connection not only with new customers, but also with current customers, your community, and with future artists. And it’s a way to revitalize your own connection with your art.
There’s one artist who does murals for public places. No ‘things’ to sell in their studio, so they don’t want to participate.
What a lost opportunity! Now, I have no desire to buy a mural. But I’ve always wondered what’s entailed. How did they get started doing this? How do they find out about proposals for public art, especially internationally? What is the design process like? Do they hire other people to help? How long does it take to paint a mural? What kind of paint do they use? How long does a mural last? Where is their work displayed? Do you get to travel a lot? What are the fun parts? What are the downsides? What the heck does their life LOOK like???
There’s a couple who are working on a graphic novel. No ‘art’ to show in their studio. People would be bored.
Really? I can think of a few dozen young artists who would give anything to know that that process looks like. How do you get started? Are you self-published or are you working with a publisher? What does that look like? Do you do the writing and the drawing, or do you collaborate? Is it possible to make a living doing this? Do you teach classes?
There’s an artist in transition who needs to sell their old work before they can can make new work. And they’re not very far along in the new work.
Artists go through transitions? Just like other people?? Is it hard? What made you stop making your old work? What would you like to do next? What do you think will stay the same, and what will change? What inspires you and sustains you through this difficult time?
There’s someone who has new galleries, and may not have any work available for sale.
Actually, this is one of the best problems to have. Do you have earlier work that you’ve kept? Do you have works in progress? And the finished pieces you’re ready to ship–can we just LOOK at them? If I want one, can I commission you to make one? There’s a waiting list?? Oh my gosh, I better get my order in NOW!
Meanwhile, in your horde of visitors (and everyone had hordes of visitors), there are people who wish they could do what you do. They want to meet the people who ran away to join the circus. You are actually in your studio, making incredible stuff every day–how fabulous! Be their art hero.
There are people in transition who need to know there’s a ‘there’ after ‘here right now.’ That perseverance and vision and hard work will get us through. Be their art hero.
There are people who hope someday to be in your shoes. There are artists-in-waiting who need to know that it’s possible to have that life, to make their own work, to carve out a place in the world for themselves. You are living proof that it can happen. Be their life hero.
There are all kinds of creative folks in a community, artists of all sorts who make this town a better, richer, more beautiful place to live. We do more than just fill art galleries or people’s homes with our work. We teach, inspire, enrich, model our values to our community. Be that community hero.
Open your work space, that incredible place where the magic happens, where your vision for your art becomes a reality. Let people see what your life looks like, for two precious days in November. Be that art hero.
Give yourself the gift of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes–the people who see you as creative, gifted, exciting, interesting, fortunate, blessed. Because we are. It’s easy to forget that in the slog of making our way in the world. Let our community help you remember.
Well, not clean, but neat. Yes, I’m finally ready for my Open Studio today (because I just looked at the clock and it’s after midnight!) Saturday and Sunday, October 6 & 7 from 10-5.
If you haven’t been to my open studios in the past, I hope you’ll stop by. It’s pretty informal here. I sit around making stuff for people, or showing them how to make something, while other people poke around in all my drawers, admire all the bones, shells, stones, antlers, dolls, fabric and sticks.
If you’ve been here before, you know the drill. Wander, peek, open drawers, touch, talk, eat, drink, be merry, talk, laugh, talk some more.
I have work for sale, of course, but it’s okay to just hang out and have a nice time. Have some cider, or coffee or tea, and munchies. Ask for the secret chocolate drawer! (Carrying on a proud tradition–KRISTEN!!) Oh, and the wine comes out when it’s 5:00 somewhere in the world! :^D
My artist friend Nicole is in her camper, parked on my lawn, with her work on display, too. And she's making cookies!!!
Just a quick announcement about the next opportunity for you to see my work…..
I’m part of the Fall Foliage Open Studio Tour (affectionately known as the FFAST tour), aptly named because it takes place during some of the most beautiful days here in New England. On Saturday and Sunday, October 6 & 7, I will open my studio to the public–YOU, dear reader.
There are two preview shows for this tour. One just finished up at the Jaffrey Civic Center in Jaffrey NH.
The other will run through the month of October at The Works Bakery on Main Street in Keene, NH.
You can see peeks of my studio here. And see more details about the FFAST tour here.
And now I have to find my vacuum cleaner and dust cloths. And find a place to stash my 250 old wood boxes for my new series I’m working on. And make it look like I actually did use the dust cloths in here…!!!
So….Why should you visit an artist’s open studio?
Well….Years ago, it was how I found out I was an actual artist.
I stuck my head inside the door to ask a new housemate something. To my amazement, he had the same vast collection of beach pebbles, small animal bones, acorns, interesting sticks, sea shells, sea glass, bird’s nests, squashed rusty metal objects and other little doodads as I did.
He was a “real artist”–enrolled in art school, making cool stuff, etc. It slowly dawned on me…. maybe I wasn’t “crazy acorn-hoarding squirrel person”. Maybe….I was an artist, too! An artist-in-waiting, perhaps. An artist who hadn’t actually honored and made room for her creative spirit–yet. But an artist all the same.
It was the beginning of an incredible journey. And I’ve never forgotten that first moment, that shock of recognition, that foreshadowing of what I was supposed to do in this world.
Other reasons to visit an artist’s studio:
A chance to talk with someone who makes stuff.
A chance to snoop through drawers and bins and shelves. (You cannot believe all the drawers, bins and shelves I have in here, and what they hold.)
The opportunity to see work I can’t display or sell at the League of NH Craftsmen shops and Fair. (Hint: It involves PEARLS and semi-precious stones!)
The opportunity to watch me make stuff.
The chance to buy really cool stuff. Like jewelry, and wall art, and sculptures, maybe even a handmade print or two.
Wine and crackers and cheese. And maybe chocolate. Oh, and more wine. Cold cider. Or hot cider, depends on the day’s weather. Did I mention the wine?
And who knows? Maybe, as you exclaim (with astonishment, or dismay) at my immense collection of pebbles, sea glass, driftwood, elk antlers, moose antlers and deer antlers, buttons, bird’s nests and such, you, too, will have that same flash of insight….
This weekend is my last official Open Studio (unless people twist my arm about having one closer to Christmas.)
I’m part of the NH OPEN DOORS, a trail of sights, sites, bites and sound across New Hampshire.
I’ll be here Saturday and Sunder, November 5 & 6, from 10 to 5ish. If the lights are on in my studio, so am I.
If you haven’t seen them yet, I’ve posted new pics of my studio on Facebook, I’ve made an announcement on my website under ‘Events’ and I’ll be sending an email blast tonight or tomorrow.
And guess what I’m doing tonight?
Yep, you guessed it….
Cleaning the effin’ studio!!!
Sorry for the strong language, folks, but my gosh, how did it get so messy in here so quickly again?? Gremlins? Dust bunnies? No kids at home anymore, so I can’t blame them….
I know! I’ll blame the latest foster potcake puppy, Inca! He looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but you can just see how mischievous he looks. And best of all, he can’t type to refute me if I pass the blame onto him.
The birds are back in my studio for the winter, so in addition to Bunster, a cat or two, and maybe the puppy and/or Tuck, you can listen to little birds screaming like tiny 2-year-old chimpanzees. Unless you feed them a cookie or two.
As always, light refreshments and beverages, good company, lots of interesting stuff to look at and pretty things to purchase. Start a wish list for Christmas, or treat yourself to your own present. Come by and hang out and tell me how you’re doing.
And if you see some dust or some beads on the floor, please just don’t say anything, okay?
271 Roxbury ST in Keene NH
1/2 mile east from the downtown Central Square in Keene.
(It’s West ST to the west, Roxbury ST to the east)
Big tall skinny long white house with a great big red barn in back. Come on down to the barn, that’s where we’ll be.
I’ll be here with my good friend and talented colored pencil artist Nicole Caulfield. Below, you can see one of the drawings she was working on at last year’s event. Did I say she was talented? She is talented! She’ll be back with more of her beautiful work.
Yep, Nicole bakes cookies and draws and I…..I clean the studio. In fact, I may still be cleaning when you get here. (But don’t worry, I won’t ask you to help.)
We’ll have light refreshments (see cookies above). You can hang out, peek in drawers, watch Nicole work, watch me make earrings, eat, drink, and oh yes, buy stuff!
See Nicole’s wonderful art! See my award-winning mixed media necklace! See pearl jewelry, button jewelry, horse and bear and bird and otter and dog jewelry! See artistic mess! (It’s sooooo much more interesting than boring old house mess.)
We hope you can join us, but if not, would you please pass this on to a friend you think might enjoy this? After all–Autumn in New England, nice people, great art, wonderful jewelry, cookies and a bunny–what more could you ask for?!
Making the Most of Your Open Studio
by Luann Udell on 10/14/2010 10:08:54 AM
With permission from Fine Art Views, the art blog I write for, I’m reprinting today’s blog post here on MY blog! :^)
This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Luann also writes a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did.” You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
I just finished a two-day open studio event, as part of a group that began a few years ago here in New Hampshire. I’ve done other open studios, on my own and as part of larger groups. This particular one is a good one to consider for what works and what doesn’t; we’re a small group (25 artists) and we’ve built it from scratch. It was our third tour and we finally started to see the results of all our hard work.
In the past two years, I felt fortunate if I made enough sales to meet expenses. I had to find other ways to value the experience beyond sales.
Of course, there’s the reward of having a clean studio. In the two weeks I deep-cleaned my space, I finally found all my scissors. And discovered I have not one, not two, but FOUR paper cutters. (Yes, I gave one away.)
I’ve come to appreciate the emotional rewards of hosting such an event. It can be a great way to thank current customers—they love an invitation to see you in your little world!
I discovered the joy of sharing my space with a compatible artist and friend. We tag-teamed the set-up, food and demonstrations. The good energy we created was palpable.
I found new collectors, and met more people who support what I’m doing. I reconnected with long-lost friends and made new ones. A small get-together is planned for like-minded stamp carvers. A defunct artist support group now plans to get back together.
There’s no single right way to have an open studio, of course, and some people prefer not to do them at all. Sometimes our galleries encourage these events, knowing that creating that relationship between artist and collector will benefit all concerned. And sometimes our galleries don’t like it at all.
Here are some thoughts on what worked for us and how to keep everybody happy. It’s not comprehensive, but it may give you insights on aspects of planning that are often overlooked.
Feel free to add your thoughts and share your experiences, too!
It takes time.
You might get lucky and have a stellar event your first time out. I did in years when money was flowing more freely. Nowadays, it can take time. Sometimes you just have to keep doing an event until it gains momentum. That seemed to be the case with our tour.
Piggy-back on another tour/event/holiday.
There’s another more established art tour in our area that runs on the same weekend. Some of their members were miffed we did ours the same time. Others were thrilled. They knew that more options generates more opportunities. Yes, some of their “frequent fliers” tried our tour this year—some of these visitors said they simply wanted to try something new. Next year, our “regulars” will surely try theirs. It’s win/win for everyone.
We also picked a popular regional holiday weekend (Columbus Day) which is perfect for enjoying the fall foliage in New England. People are out and about and looking for things to do. “What a beautiful vista…. Hey! There’s a sign for an art studio tour. Let’s go see some artists!”
Which brings us to…
Marketing is important.
Our signs brought a lot of people in. We had great advertising, too, and snagged some good publicity (free!) in the form of newspaper articles, too. But signs hammer the point home. My husband drove around the area that weekend for a rock climbing venture. He commented that he saw our signs everywhere!
We tried to save money by making our own signs. They are eclectic and fun. But they’re not holding up well and a good wind knocks them off their pinnings. We may end up having signs made commercially—more money, but also more durable. If local politicians running for office can have decent signs, we can, too!
Create a great brochure and an excellent map.
We’re lucky–one of our members had these skills. He designed a lovely brochure using the theme and the rich colors of autumn to tie us all together. It’s bold, bright and professional-looking. He found an extremely affordable online printer and we placed them in key locations all over the area. I heard many compliments about our brochure. It just made us look like we really knew what we were doing! (I’ve included images of it. Forgive my lack of photography skills with glossy paper…) (I forgot to show the map. Trust me, it’s there!)
Tip: Targeting your audience gives you the most bang for your buck. I do a big retail show a month before the tour. I gave every customer a brochure with their purchase and offered them to anyone who expressed a wish to see my studio. Each and every one was delighted with this “personal invitation”. And a lot of them came, too. (I was touched by the collectors who couldn’t come and called to let me know—just as if they’d been invited to a party!)
Work with your galleries.
Some artists have a local gallery that represents them. One particular gallery is not happy when artists sell directly to customers. They believe all sales should go through them. If this happens, try to work out a compromise that keeps everyone happy. One artist only shows and sells work for the open studio that is not in the gallery. This can be work from a different series that’s not compatible with the gallery’s client base, or smaller, lower-priced work (the gallery doesn’t carry her miniatures, for example) or even unframed pieces. They are also more willing to let her sell for very short term events, like our local Art Walk.
You’ll also be wise to never undersell your gallery. That’s almost guaranteed to lose you your place with them. Instead, try the different series/smaller pieces/work-they-don’t-want-to-carry approach.
If your protesting gallery is a major account for you, you might even consider offering them a commission on the work you sell during this event.
Create groups within each location.
Your current customers may feel fine coming to your studio already. New visitors will feel much more comfortable if you have more than one artists in your location. It’s just human nature—multiple options make people feel they’re sure to find something/someone they like! Artists who double up (or even three or four) in a studio consistently report more visitors and more sales than lone artists.
I shared my studio with my friend and fellow artist, Nicole Caulfield. Her work is excellent and appealing, and her personality is, too. We love each other’s work and that showed in the energy level here all weekend. People commented on how wonderful it felt in our space, over and over.
Grouping artists together also allows you to grow your artist list without expanding your tour. We wanted people to visit “all 25 artists” on our tour and created a contest to encourage that. In reality, it would be impossible for someone to do that in two days.
Some folks in our group are talking about limiting the number of artists for that reason. But you want new faces on the tour because…..
….People love the new. They want to see new artists, new work, new studios. I’m going to suggest to our group that we allow new artists to join a current participating artist in their studio for a year or two. That will allow us to grow our artist list slowly, without adding more stops for a few years. (We’ll be able to reuse our “studio number” signs for a couple years, too!)
Jury your artists (or at least know the quality of their work) for a consistent tour. But don’t worry about having only “proven sellers” on your tour. We have both big names and emerging artists on our tour. People love to see artists at all stages of their careers.
Create variety in your stable of artists, too. Some people get picky about what is “art” and what’s not. By adding a few woodworkers, a potter and a jewelry artist to the tour, we created more buzz for the tour and offered something for everyone. (Why do you think fine art museums have gift shops?)
Let your friends and current customers know. And use social media, too.
I used to do a full postcard mailing for these events. Last year, I finally created an email group for my customers, supporters and friends. A few weeks before the event, I did an email blast and a couple Facebook announcements. I added photos of my studio and images of new work.
I was astonished how well that worked! The times they are a-changin’…..
I’m always astonished at the folks who can barely tolerate children in their booths or studio. It’s true, usually people with kids are too busy with the kids to actively shop. But it allows people to come who otherwise would have to hire a sitter. We found little things for kids to do and enjoy. Not only were parents and grandparents grateful, I think my friend lined up a few portrait commissions. (She captures children beautifully in her work.)
And tell yourself you are laying the groundwork for a future generation’s appreciation of art and craft.
Remember to have fun.
In our culture, where money is often the measure of our success, it’s good to remember that an open studio doesn’t have to be just about the sales. Yes, I want my work to sell. But I also value the relationships I have with my collectors. At my open studio, they are my guests. Treat your open studio as a way to thank your loyal supporters, consider sales the gravy, and you will never be disappointed.
Just in case you’re my mom (which you aren’t, because my parents have never been online. NEVER.) DO NOT call me and ask me if I’m lying dead in a ditch somewhere. A call which always came at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings when I was in college, following a period where I had been incommunicado too long, and which always baffled me, because this was way, way before cell phones and so if I actually ANSWERED the phone, how could I be dead in a ditch somewhere??
I digress…. Because I HAVE been incommunicado. I have a good reason:
I’m getting ready for another open studio this weekend. And you’re invited!
In some ways, I’m on top of this one. The studio didn’t get too, too messy since my last one, there was a lot of publicity because it’s part of the NH Open Doors Tour, and I’m not driving myself crazy about preparations. For example, I’m not going to vacuum again unless the dog barfs. (Keeping my fingers crossed here….)
But in other ways, I’m behind–as always. I didn’t do any personal promotion–no postcards mailed out to my customers. (I’m kicking myself here.) I decided to redo all my signage. Even though there’s not a year’s mess in here, there’s still a mess.
And I’m adding my usual personal anxiety to the mix. I once had a party where only one person showed up. It was traumatic. She was a very nice person, and we did do damage to a bottle of tequila (which promptly did damage to me, which is why I never drink tequila anymore, but that’s a story for another day.) But I still enter each entertainment venture with a sinking feeling that says, “And what if nobody comes this time, either??”
So help me not support my therapist single-handedly. Come to my Open Studio this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7 & 8, from 10-5, or pass the word on to someone you think would enjoy it. Tell them what you want for Christmas (if I happen to make something you’d want for Christmas) and tell them it’s only available here. This weekend.
And we will be BFF. Especially if you are the only person who comes.
P.S. Full disclosure: To be fair, at the time of that party, I was living in a 10’x10′ room in a rooming house. I think everyone was afraid we were going to stay there.
P.P.S. And I kinda forgot to tell everybody til the last minute. Which is why I probably deserve to have slow open studios, since history is repeating itself here…..