Sunday, May 22, 2016

Do you want to host your own Studio Open House?

3 of my students (mentees?) recently asked me to join them in showing our most recent artwork, and one of them volunteered to host it in her home.  How could I refuse?  It was a terrific teaching moment since none of them had ever held a Studio Open House.

How did we accomplish our successful event?

From left:  Susan Baughman, Anne Peterson, Donna Boerema, and moi.
1.  We picked the date and time (and picked a catchy title for our show) and we announced it via email to our individual lists as a SAVE-THE DATE about one month before our event.  In our case, we went with "Pre-Spoleto:  Show and Tell".  Spoleto is a Charleston 17-day art festival that I exhibit at, and it starts on May 27 this year (this coming Friday!).  So we held our Pre-Spoleto event on May 21.  (We also announced it on Facebook, but we asked people to ask us for the address, rather than just spell it out.)

2.  We created postcards and mailed them to our own mailing lists (again, about 3-4 weeks before the event).  BTW, we agreed on the front end to share in all costs involved with setting up the event.

Front of our postcard.
3.  I guided them through their thought process of how to price originals, as well as giclee prints.  They spent hours packaging pieces that wouldn't receive frames.

Sharing in the work of pricing and packaging their art.
4.  We decided who would bring which food to the party.  We figured we'd be ready to feed 200 people.  One of our husbands (thanks, Mac!) kept his eye on the table for us.  (One of our guests complimented me on having the event catered when she saw Mac carrying a fresh tray to the table!) This is the time to bring out the pretty tablecloth, hang some party lights, add flickering candles (I like the safety of votives), play some pretty music and even have your laptop turned on, with a slideshow of whatever you're most proud of.  In our case, the 4 of us just came back from Paris, so we wanted to share our time in the City of Lights!

Calories do NOT count on days like this!
5.  We had all kinds of price points available (from $25 for the smallest prints, up to $4800 for a 30x40 original).  Don't pre-judge what your collectors are willing to spend.  Even if they don't buy at that event, the right piece will "stay with them" and could eventually find its way into their collection.  Price tags should be evident.  My advice is to not leave art on the wall if it's Not For Sale (NFS).  Use your valuable space wisely.  

We hung work in all the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms as well.  These were small originals that we put in clear envelopes and we then taped them to the wall with 5 pieces of blue painters tape on the backs.
6.  Make sure your lighting is adequate.  We supplemented the lighting by adding 5 floor lamps and 2 spot lights throughout the bedrooms and halls.  If they can't "see" it, it won't speak to them.

Supplement existing lighting with floor lamps or spot lights.
7. Designate a table to be your "check out" station.  Our event lasted 4 hours, so we each took a 1-hr shift, manning that station.  Have plenty of change and have a reliable way to take credit cards.  51% of our sales were via credit card. We had a pad with the headings: Form of Payment / Artist / Title / Orig or Print / $, so that we could keep track of who was owed money at the end of the day.

Our checkout station.
8.  We had a Form for guests to give us their email addresses, and we invited them to tell us which of us artists they wanted to get updates from.  My mentees will now be able to start their own email list for future events or announcements!

And here's my lovely family who surprised me with a visit to our Studio Open House.  The kids were all decked out from their piano recitals held off-site.  That's our son, Antoine, with his 4 adorable kids (ages 4-8) and Lauren, the daughter-in-law who is more like a daughter to me.  My husband, Ray, rounds out our little family.  And, yes, the kids all have artistic talent!

I'm hoping you'll now be a bit braver about holding your own Studio Open House.  If you team up with other artists, your workload will be that much less and you'll probably have a lot more fun.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!  Do you have other tips for my readers about holding such an Event??  

It's time to think about Venice in 2017.  Come paint with me! 
Check out my classes HERE.   
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