It is important to put thought and time into planning an open studio. Regardless of whether work shown is to the personal taste of visitors, they can still enjoy a well planned and run event. An interesting studio may even make people rethink what they do like.
You must have enough work to make visitors' journeys worthwhile. Although some visitors sometimes express pleasure at meeting a few `old favourites', you also need to have plenty of new work that returning visitors have not seen before. You should make sure that visitors who may have travelled long distances to reach you have enough to look at to make their trip worthwhile. Open Studios events can draw people from far away - even overseas. If you are invited to take part in an Open Studios satellite exhibition make sure you have enough work to fulfil your commitments to INSIGHT - the flagship exhibition - and your studio.
Standard of work
Only show work that you consider is worthy of you. However, one of the things that distinguishes an open studio from any other sort of exhibition is that you can show the full range of your work at once. Displaying all their work so that comparisons can be made is particularly useful for artists who want to obtain feedback from visitors.
Things people can't get in a Gallery
Consider having some smaller or lower-priced works available, always provided these are up to standard. Ceramicists, for example, can sell clearly labelled seconds. Painters can sell unframed work or mounted sketches. If you can afford to have prints done, and are confident off selling reasonable numbers, these may sell more readily than originals, as will postcards or greetings cards. People who buy small items may eventually return for a more substantial piece of work. Have a price list available in your studio together with statements about your work and contact details - websites in particular.
Allow time to get work fired, framed etc. and think about how you are going to present it.
A good frame can greatly enhance a good painting and a bad frame can detract from it. Artists are sometimes tempted to buy job lots of cheap frames and then try and fit their work into them. This is usually a bad idea because the frames seldom have any coherent relationship to the work inside them. Likewise, unless you are a trained framer, it is not a good idea to save money by doing the work yourself. A badly made frame can distract attention from the painting and look tacky.
You can pick up ideas about framing by looking at professionally framed and displayed pictures in galleries and by consulting a good framer.
Bear in mind that a good frame can increase the price you can charge for a painting or photograph by considerably more than the cost of the frame itself.
Props for displays
You can display unframed 2D work in portfolios or you can construct a V-shaped browser that will allow visitors to flick through easily.
Unframed works and textiles can be displayed on screens. You may be able to borrow these from a school or arts centre. DVDs relating to your work can be on a loop, or you could display your website.
Think about building, borrowing or buying plinths and tables to stand 3D work on. You can make columns or stands from painted or covered chipboard or MDF.
For security reasons, if you use precious materials it is worth investing in glass cabinets.
Think about how you are going to lay out your display so that you can acquire hooks, extra lights etc. in advance. Remember to buy card for labels, a visitors' book etc.
- The benefits
- Open alone or with others?
- Suitable premises
- Your entry in the Directory
- When to open
- Advanced planning
- Opening day
- The future
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