We love to see how strings are being pulled behind the curtain and consume behind-the-scenes content of the shows we tune into with as much interest as the actual performance. When we’re given a peek at where the “magic happens,” we begin to understand processes better, relating and connecting emotionally.
As an emerging artist positioning yourself in the art world, hosting an open art studio event or participating in an art walk is how you can feed your fan’s curiosities and connect with them on a deeper level.
Hosting an open studio art event can be a powerful driver for attention and sales for any artist. One of our favorite things about open studio art events, beyond the opportunity to produce memorable experiences and relationships, is that it creates a sense of urgency. When you’re selling artwork online, an interested buyer doesn’t get to see if other buyers are eyeing the same piece. Because open studio art events and art walks are face-to-face events, guests see other potential art buyers and feel the air of competition. So, read on, and we’ll tell you how to create the best open studio art event.
Preparing for your event
Be ready to talk about yourself – If you haven’t put effort into crafting your artist and artwork statements, now is the time. Your visitors aren’t only there to view your artwork but to engage with you. They’ll want to talk about your thought process as much as your art style. So, take the time to put your experiences, motivations, and intentions into words. If you’re not yet used to talking about yourself, it would help to practice in the mirror or with a friend before the event.
Create an experience – You love your studio the way it is, but it may not be set up to welcome guests. Materials may be lying around, creating hazards for visitors. When preparing to open your studio to the public, maintain the frame of mind that you’re throwing a party in that space. And parties allow people to flow and socialize. However, you should also keep in mind that your open studio is also an opportunity to show off and sell your work. If you have limited space in your studio, you may consider having your artwork display spill out into the adjoining space, such as a driveway or backyard.
Set the mood – Lighting and music create inviting ambiances. Pick a playlist that fits the theme of your artwork. Alternatively, you can choose ambient music to enhance the atmosphere without distracting visitors while you’re discussing your art.
Plan a simple but delicious menu – It’s not a social event without food and drinks. Designate a table where visitors can grab bites of food and refreshments. You may consider hiring a professional catering company or asking a friend to help you make sure the refreshment table is always stocked. After all, your focus should be on entertaining your guests and not constantly making runs to refill snack bowls or grabbing more wine from storage.
Offer a wide range of prices – Many art enthusiasts and collectors go to open studio art events and art walks to find bargains. So, while you should absolutely showcase your best and more expensive work, you should also display moderately and lower-priced artwork for buyers looking for reasonable deals. Before your event, assess your inventory and current pricing to determine if prices still apply. If you don’t have any low-priced items, consider selling prints or postcards of your artwork.
Don’t discriminate – Display your lower-priced artwork with as much care as your expensive pieces. It may be tempting to draw as much attention to your pricier work in the hopes that they will be sold first. But bear in mind that open studio events and art walks draw art enthusiasts with varying budgets, and you should be catering to them all.
Always be marketing – You should also have low-cost items for sale, including prints and stickers. Stickers may not even be printed versions of your artwork but marketing collateral, such as your Instagram handle, website, or studio’s name. While some artists may give these away, you can choose to sell them for cheap, and those who don’t buy any actual artwork may buy a handful just to show their appreciation and support. The best part is that they’ll likely pass them out to other people and increase your exposure.
Getting the word out
If you’ve joined an art walk that involves other artists, don’t rely solely on the event organizers to promote the event and its participants. Do your share by marketing the event on your social channels. And if you’re hosting your own open studio art event, create a Facebook event and invite all your friends. Ask them to show their support by sharing the event with their networks and anyone who may be interested. And as you prepare the venue and event, don’t forget to share sneak peeks with your social media audience. This helps build the excitement for the big day.
During the event
Make yourself accessible – Don’t get so lost in conversation with one visitor that you overlook others who are also waiting to engage with you. Greet newcomers briefly by thanking them for coming, offer them food and drink by pointing to the refreshments table, and invite them to reach out to you if they have any questions.
Don’t loom – We all know how annoying it is to be followed around a shop by the store attendant, feeling pressured into buying something. Only approach visitors if they look like they need help or are making eye contact. Allow guests to browse at their leisure and own pace. Avoid eavesdropping and creating awkward situations.
Promote online – This is where it helps to have a friend who likes to take photos and shares on social media with the same intensity as an influencer. Document everything, from the food and drink to the artwork and the guests mingling. Sharing these images and stories on your social channels is great for expanding your reach. Creating a custom hashtag for your event is also an excellent marketing strategy.
Invite people to sign a guestbook – You can have an actual guestbook for people to sign by hand or a digital guestbook. Other than providing a way to capture your guests’ attendance, virtual guest books also allow you to collect email addresses, which go into your email marketing list. And with a bigger email list, you can continue marketing your artwork to your fans long after your open studio art event is over.