Open alone or with others?
If you decide to open your studio to the public, you next have to decide whether to go it alone or join an existing event. If there is no event organised in your area, or if it is not very good, you can always open on your own at any time of the year. This works best if you are well known and can command publicity and if you have a good mailing list. There are advantages to going it alone: you will be able to choose your own dates and times and be selective about whom to invite. Also you won't get roped in to stuff envelopes, put up posters or distribute guides! However, there are many advantages to joining a well-established event such as Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire. Some of these are described below.
Most importantly you will get a listing in the published guide - the Open Studios Directory of Artists and on the website. This will bring you to the notice of people who have not hitherto heard of you but who, by definition, are interested in visiting artists and buying artwork. Visitors have told us that they keep their Directory as a year-round reference. Galleries and other art organisations also use Open Studios Directories when they are looking for new talent.
There may be other opportunities for reaching a wider public: the event will command a great deal more publicity than an individual open studio and you may be able to enter work in our satellite exhibitions and displays.
Making friends and getting involved
For many people a major advantage is becoming part of a group of like-minded colleagues. Artists usually work alone and an open studio event provides welcome opportunities for meeting people, making friends and working cooperatively with others.
If you do join an organisation such as Open Studios, consider offering to help - your offer will almost certainly be taken up with enthusiasm. If you volunteer you can choose an interesting job rather than wait to be conscripted for a boring one. Though time consuming, it will be fun and you are likely to make friends, get the chance to develop your marketing, promotional and management skills and make useful contacts.
Some artists worry that if they join an established event, especially if it is a large one, there will not be enough visitors to go round.
Obviously some artists get more visitors than others but, if your work is strong and your studio is not too remote from other participants, you can only gain by taking part in an Open Studio scheme - the event itself will generate visitors.
By deciding to open your studio as part of Open Studios, you take on both rights and obligations. You will be given support and help, and everything possible will be done to promote your work and help you reach as wide a public as possible. In return you have obligations to your fellow members. You must make your studio as interesting and attractive as possible. Yours may be the first studio that a visitor goes to - it is incumbent upon you not only to interest them in your own work but to ensure that they will want to visit a great many more studios.
People sometimes travel long distances to visit studios and artists need to have enough work on show to make visits worthwhile. Most importantly, if you state in the guide that you are going to be open for specific periods, you must be open. There is nothing worse than an advertised studio being closed when it should be open. To provide a good 'start' to your studio have a preview or party or simply invite neighbours in for a drink.
Sharing a studio
All artists have the option of sharing open studio space with other artists while still having your own entry in the Directory. Sharing a studio has advantages. If you want your own Directory entry the participation fee will be the same but other costs can be shared - although they will probably be higher than those of a single artist. You can increase visitor numbers by combining your mailing lists and by having more variety for people to look at. You always have somebody there to help with visitors during busy times and to talk to during slack periods.
Sharing works best if each artist has similar 'drawing power' and prices their work within similar parameters - and if everybody does their share of the work. Think carefully about whether the space is big enough to do justice to all the work and whether there will be room for everybody's visitors to have enough room to look at the work properly.
- The benefits
- Open alone or with others?
- Suitable premises
- Your entry in the Directory
- When to open
- Advanced planning
- Opening day
- The future
Click on the link to access the chapter.