Set your goals
Have a clear purpose and an incentive for audiences to attend. What is the main goal of your open studio? Sales? Increasing your audience and network of clients?
To receive critical feedback about your work or to gain insights into audience reception? To attract students to your workshops?
The devil is in the detail
Plan out details like:
Consider where people will park. Start thinking about signage for on the day.
Consider investing in a sandwich board or adding 'markers' like balloons for clear navigation.
If you are selling your work make clear in advance if eftpos is available or if sales will only be in cash.
Prepare a secure cashbox and safe location for this that will remain attended at all times.
Organise a cash float for change. Prepare packaging and bags for customers to take works away.
Look at your space with both your guests and your safety in mind. Clear hazards like loose nails, curled rugs, secure wobbly furniture and make a plan for any pets that might be around on the day. Clearly mark steps and uneven ground. Unplug or put away power tools. Consider the security of things on display.
If your studio is attached to your house organise a family member or friend to be on site and mark areas that are off limits to visitors. If your studio will be open all day ensure you have scheduled break times.
Curate your space
Consider removing furniture to add more space to create a ‘gallery’ zone to display your work, or to set up your workspace in a mock ‘creating’ zone to showcase the process of making to your audience.
Will you add written information cards to your workspace or speak through your process with a talk or presentation?
Consider zones. Plan if you would like attendees to be sitting or standing and where you might like to place food and or drinks. Take photos of your studio and workspace prior to the event that can be used for later promotion.
Showcase your work
Carefully select the work you want to show which you think best reflects your practice. Put your best works in prime locations and consider highlighting a breadth of styles and techniques. Prepare labels for work that includes: title, price, description, date and materials used.If your work is wearable organise pieces for yourself and volunteers, friends or family to wear on the day.
Ensure that work is not cluttered and allows for attendees to view and admire from multiple angles. Clearly mark what works can/ can’t be touched.
Promotion and marketing
Craft Victoria members can submit their events to the What’s on in the World of craft events calendar for free. List your open studio on local event listings.
Promote your open studio to your email subscribers and via your social media channels, community and friends. Post posters to your local café, galleries, community noticeboards. Distribute flyers approximately a week in advance via a letterbox drop in areas close to your studio. (This will keep your event fresh in their minds).
Create a media pack
Using Dropbox, Google Drive or a page on your website create a media pack for promotion.
You can share your package with your community, friends and family so that they can easily promote the open studio on your behalf. Make sure your pack includes:
Be your brand
Be friendly and prepared to engage with guests and talk about your work. Have responses to tough questions ready to go. For example; “what’s the price?” “How long did you take to make this?” or “Why is this so special?” Share the process of making with your audience and what makes your work unique.
Wear your work and a name badge so you are easily identifiable to your audience.
Know your worth
Do not sell your work at wholesale prices. Both visitors and any galleries seeking new artists will assume your works are priced for retail. Have an easily accessible price list and stick to it. If you make the business decision offer a discount for the day or consider this in advance. Know your return policy and have it displayed where you are processing transactions.
Demonstrate your skill
Visitors will be encouraged to attend your open studio if you provide an experience. For example; consider demonstrating a step in your making process, talking about your brand or creative journey or holding a workshop.
It is also a great opportunity to make it memorable for your audience. During a demonstration or artist talk audience members may take photos and share these with their online community, exposing you to potential new audiences and clients. Display your CV, business cards and magazines or publications where your work has been featured.
Increase your community
Capture visitor details with a sign up sheet or guest-book for visitors to leave email addresses for future communications and any feedback about the experience.
Remember not everyone is an impulse shopper, so make it easy for visitors to contact you later and don’t forget having your prices at retail will prevent future disgruntled customers expecting a different price.
Consider having someone else process sales so you can concentrate on creating a great experience for your visitors and sharing the details of your work. Have plenty of change in your float. Capture clear customer information on invoices including name, address contact number and email.
If you are represented by a commercial gallery check whether restrictions apply to the sale of your works.
Update your online store, social media and website to reflect quantities and works which have sold. If you have added any additional pieces that can now be made to order make sure this is easily accessible for customers who may have missed out on the day.
Thank your attendees, supporters and people that made your event memorable
With the subscriber list you captured at the event, send a follow up email and thank you to attendees. This can include images from the event and of existing or new works for sale. Not everyone is an impulse shopper and this will help considered buyers to purchase later and keep your work fresh in their minds. Include links to your site and social media channels so they can stay up to date with you. Thank your family, friends and any volunteers who helped make the event possible.
Consider adding an optional short and succinct survey for feedback.
Record your learnings
What worked and what didn’t? Address feedback given by your audience. Is it helpful? Remember, you are the expert on your brand but customers can help provide insight into areas you can improve and let you know what’s already working well.