I began participating in Open Studios in 2006. There was a lot of preparation for that very first one. Attending other open studios helped get me started. Once I had certain items and processes in place, it got simpler. Here are my basic preparation steps:
Spreadsheet — Keep track of your artwork with good documentation. I keep an Excel spreadsheet with information detailing name, art number, description, medium, surface, dimensions (art size and finished/matted size), frame color, price, hi-resolution scan, and date sold. I use another spreadsheet to document sales and exhibit submissions.
Scan or Photograph Artwork — The documentation should include a digital file of the art. I scan my own pieces.
Color correction — I do my own color corrections in Photoshop. If you do not have this capability, hire a professional who can do it for you. You’ll want an accurate digital file in case you want to reproduce the art.
Think about what you want to achieve from Open Studios. It is a great opportunity to show your art to a wide audience, gain exposure, and meet other artists. It’s fun and challenging to talk about your art, especially with strangers, but the rewards are wonderful. Your goals will help you make decisions about how much time and money you want to invest in the experience.
Select Artwork for Show
I make a list with the following info.: (1) Name of piece and art number; (2) Art size; (3) Mat size; (4) Mat window size; (5) Frame color; (6) Price
I use acid-free, archival, museum-grade matboards, purchased in bulk from Dick Blick. The brand name is Crescent RagMat Matboard.
With pastels, it’s important to include “spacers” between the artwork and the mat, so that the pastel which inevitably falls from the painting will not smudge the front side of the mat. I cut 1/4″ wide spacers out of matboard (to match the height and width of the window) and attach them on the back side of the mat window with gummed linen hinging tape.
Many art buyers prefer to get their own frames, so all of my frames are standard gold or silver metal, purchased from http://www.pictureframes.com/. These attractive frames are simple, functional, and low-cost. They unify all of the pieces. I buy my glass locally, from Artist & Craftsman Supply (580 Massachusetts Ave.; Cambridge, MA 02139).
Create Layout for Art
In order to make sure that my hung pieces will fit in the given space, I create a layout for the hung pieces. When it’s time to set up the exhibit space, I know exactly where I will put everything.
If you don’t have a wall on which to hang the art, you’ll need a display unit. My brother built one for me out of lattice. It was great and I used it for a while. But he had to set it up for me and I wanted to save him the trouble. So, now I have gridwalls and use “S” hooks to hang the art onto them. Here’s where I bought my gridwalls:
Joslin Displays – Pick up yourself and save on shipping costs!
10 Upton Drive, Wilmington, MA 01887
There are other display methods to consider for items that don’t hang. When I attend Open Studios, I love seeing the creative ways people show their work. Here’s what I use:
Notecards/postcards — free-standing metal card rack
Giclees — print rack
Let people know about the event at least 1 month ahead of the event date(s). Create a mailing list for both snail mail and email. Mail out any printed guides that are provided to you by the event group. Email notices that are provided by the event group and/or designed by you. Use other social media, such as FaceBook and Twitter.
Bring to the Event
Table and chairs — You can display things on the table, obviously. It helps define the space well. You’ll stand most of the time, but will welcome that chair when your feet get tired.
Business cards and postcards — Have plenty of business cards to hand out to visitors. Postcards are an excellent give-away to remind people of your art.
Price List of Framed Work — Anything that is hung on the wall is assigned a number for cross-referencing with the price list. I put the list up on the wall near the art, and I also put copies of it on a table. Sometimes I put a price label directly on the piece itself.
Artist Statement — I post my artist statement prominently on the wall near the art. People love to read it, because it offers them insight into who I am and how I view myself and my art.
Notebook — I use a small notebook for my sales records, as well as an easy place to jot down notes and ideas.
Red Dots — Small red dots get put onto of sold art. You can find red dot stickers at any office supply store.
Sales Receipts & Calculator — It’s good business etiquette to offer a receipt. I use the 3-11/32″x7-3/16″ sales book, found any any office supply store. The calculator makes it easy to add items and determine sales tax. Yes, I charge sales tax (6.25% in Mass.) on the list price.
Signs and Price Tags — Everything should be easily identified by the visitor. Let them know whether a piece is original art or a giclee. Prices should be visible and easy to understand.
Cash Box — My cash box is relatively small, but it has enough space for coins and bills. It has a lock. I hide it in a secure, yet accessible space. I started using The Square a few years ago. It’s a small device that enables me to take credit card payments; it plugs into an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (2nd generation or later) or Android.
Flowers — Warm and inviting and attractive.
Food and Water — for yourself, to keep nourished and hydrated!
Celebrate! Treat yourself to a nice dinner with friends. Talk about the highlights and lowlights, and get feedback.
Send Thank-You notes to everyone who came or sent good wishes.
Deliver the sold art to the buyers.
My next Open Studios
Arlington Open Studios
Oct. 17 and 18, 2015
12pm – 5pm
Arlington Center for the Arts
41 Foster St.
Arlington, MA 02474
Full details on my calendar page.