Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pink Petals - and my Open Studio Experience

Pink Petals
Oil on Gessoboard


A few weekends ago I had an Open Studio Holiday Event at my Home and I thought I'd share with you what the experience was like, and also what I learned from the whole thing.  This also helps me take stock of what worked and what could have been done better!  I do have to say that even with all the work that went into it in the weeks before -  
The event was a wonderful experience and so worth doing!
Me, in the middle, with Shannon Celia and Susan Ciufu

I want to thank all my friends and supporters that came to visit!!  It truly was a special day!

 Click Here to Purchase 2015 Calendars

I am not the most organized person so it really helps me to write lists. I need to get everything that needs to get done ahead, down on paper....or I'll loose track:-)   This event felt like a big step for me and once I committed I wanted to take every step I could to make it a success  - Research and committing to the idea took a few months and then I spent the last month really getting ready.  Here are a few of my areas of focus, and the to-do-lists I created in each area:

The Art/Merchandise: 

  1. Take stock of my inventory - what do I have? What's old, new?  Does some of it need to be touched up?  Finished?
  2. What work will I display in frames and what will I have on sale - unframed?
  3. Some artwork will need to be photographed, framed and priced.  (I individually tagged the unframed work and had a price list for the framed pieces.
  4.  Do I want to have anything else for sale?  In my case I had Calendars done.    I also worked on a small book of my work...that I ultimately wasn't able to get printed in time.
  5.  My kids got involved as well and wanted to sell their artwork too, which was a great hit!
 Paper puppets, by the one with all the ideas

Clear directions, from the one with business sense:-)

My Studio and Space:
My Studio
  1. I needed to clean up and get my Guest House Studio organized.  This meant vacuuming, cleaning, and organizing.  I created some shelves to put work in progress on and I also got my new paint organizer door ready to share with my artist friends.
  2. I decided to have a table of all my unframed pieces inside our house, so I needed to get boxes and space to set it up and display it in an easy way.
  3.  Some of my Framed pieces I had hanging in our living room area and then I used my Art grids to both hang some other themed work and section off the house a bit.
  4.  A big thank you goes to my husband who cleaned up a bunch of stuff in the back yard!!
  5. I think it worked out well to have several areas to visit during the event...
My new Paint tube Solution

Marketing/Spreading the word:

I wanted the event to be a somewhat intimate event/ and Holiday Celebration so I only invited a select group of people.   Enough guests, but not too many:-)

  1. I printed up 100 Invitations with my Artwork and the pertinent info to RSVP.  I also made a flyer that I sent to family and friends.
  2. I included information about my event in my Newsletter in October and November inviting everyone on my mailing list that lives locally.
  3.  I shared the information with my local Art Groups
  4.  As a test, I did an Ad through FB...A post which went out to some 3000 people.  At this point I'm not sure it garnered enough interest for the event to make it worth the $40, besides a few more likes...I also created an event on FB so I could invite FB friends.
  5.  I brought my cards to the Local Art Gallery and the Art Store (Graphaids - and, great idea!) and I distributed several to my neighbors.

Food, Entertainment and Sales:

  1. When it came to food my priority was to make it non stressful and the least amount of preparation on that day, but it was also a great excuse to get some stuff that I like to eat:-)
  2. I got a nice spread from the local Gelson's to enjoy including the ususal suspects, cheese and crackers, veggies, salad, coffee, cookies, sparkling water and wine.  (I was told to keep it simple, which I didn't quite succeed in:-) and it seemed that food and wine was still left at the end so... I might do it differently next time.
  3.  I got an acoustic guitarist to come and play, which set a nice festive mood and atmosphere.
  4.  The absolute best decision I made was to hire our young, but extremely poised and capable baby sitter as an assistant to be in charge of sales!  She did such a fabulous job!  Using the Paypal "pay here" app, set up with all of my unframed pieces already itemized made the process easy and seem less... and best of all, it afforded me the ability to interact with my collectors and guests, which I so enjoyed!
Some of my visitors, collectors and friends - Rich and the extremely talented Daggi Wallace

So here were the benefits of holding an Open Studio Event:

  • There's nothing like a deadline to get things done! I.e. my Space, Calendars, the Book...
  • I loved seeing my family and friends and I got to share my work with new people and make new connections.
  • More sales than I even anticipated were made, with more commissions for the future.
  • It was a family affair and the kids had fun and learned to be entrepreneurs:-)
  • I can buy more supplies!!! and paint more!!!

Some things I've learned and/or could improve:

  • Next time I might go easier on the food.
  • I will think of more ways and new groups to share the invitation with
  • Perhaps do a demo, include more artists...
  • Go through my inventory earlier...part of that is photographing anything that's been touched up...before it sells:-)
  • Take more pictures during the event! 
  • Add the address to the FB event to make sure everyone had it ahead of time, without personally asking me for it.
The possibilities are endless and there's something very unique about getting to share your space and work with the art lovers in your community....

What has been your experience holding/or attending one of these events?