For the last 4 years I’ve been taking part in Hampshire Open Studios. It’s a yearly event where Artists from across the County open up their Studio to the public over a period of 10 days. I say Studio but when I first started I didn’t have a Studio and I really didn’t fancy having Tom, Dick, Harry or even John, Janet or Jane traipse up stairs to my tiny extremely cluttered spare bedroom aka Art Studio! So my first Open Studio was held in the Conservatory. From there it has grown each year with me getting braver by offering prints and cards and asking other local artists to join me to finally this year (2021) having my very own garden Art Studio.
If you’ve got an Open Studio organised for your County, you might be wondering about how to get involved and how to go about it. You might also be thinking you’re not good enough to start doing things like that – I expect you are good enough, you’re just feeling a bit nervous – just like I did. I remember my first year well, I was nervous, would anyone turn up?? And it was really successful! And each year after that, I’ve always got something out of doing it. From cards and print sales, to painting sales, commissions, contacts, people who want to join my pastel workshops and this year being asked to join an Art Gallery and an Exhibition.
Organising an Open Studio isn’t too difficult but it does need some organisation and planning so I’ve compiled this Guide to give you an idea of what you’ll need to think about, oh and don’t forget to tidy up – see my Studio transformation video at the end.
Where will you hold the event? Will it be in your own home or do you want to join other artists in a bigger location like a Church hall. Your local Art Society might do this already so it’s worth checking. If you want to hold the event in your own home / Studio, think about easy access.
In Hampshire we have a wonderful coordinator who organises everything for us. She creates the brochure – we each get sent 200 brochures each which we need to distribute in our local areas, street signage, bunting and banners. Check out what your area offers. However you may want to do some local advertising in small popular magazines / newsletters.
What are you selling?
You don’t have to sell anything, you could just have a Gallery. Or you can sell your originals and prints and cards. So you’ll need to frame your paintings and get prints and cards made. I make mine myself with a printer and scanner at home but there are many places that will make these for you, online or in your local area. You can also have things like, mugs, magnets, place mats and coasters with your art work printed on.
You never know who will turn up
This lovely lady, Wendy, turned up at my first Open Studios. She said she’d never be able to draw or pastel. I said, let me show you how, come to my classes and I’ll show you. Well, she came and she did and she’s not looked back since. She’s taken in person classes, online tutorials, she did the Bailey 5 Day Challenge and she’s now gone on to take lessons with other Pastel Artists like Nina Squire and best of all, she’s creating her own beautiful works of art!
Hanging your paintings
Not many people have places to hang paintings in their homes nor do they want to hammer nails in the walls. So a good option is to use 3M Picture hanging strips. They are very strong and they don’t ruin your walls. They don’t work on wallpaper though.
It’s important to have some business cards so visitors can remember you. Leaflets if you have any special events planned in the future and a Visitors Book so you can invite people again to future events or even to your first Exhibition! You never know what’s round the corner…
When will you be open?
This is an important consideration if you work or have family that need you. But which hours you choose is entirely up to you and what works best for you and your family. This applies to the days you’ll be open too as you don’t have to open every single day.
Some Artists offer light Refreshments like a coffee and biscuits or cake in exchange for a donation or a donation to charity. You can’t actually ask for payment as you’d then need lots of official things like food safety certificate, hygiene certificate etc just like a coffee shop would need.
Some Artists offer hands on experiences, “have a go at pastelling” for example which is a good way of getting visitors to come especially if you have a lot of venues in your local area, they may choose to come to yours because you offer something slightly different.
After all your organising, don’t forget to tidy up and make things nice! You can see my tidying up efforts below in the video!
Many Artists will hold a Private View on the evening of the day before the event starts. This is a fun time! A party! I had my first private view earlier this year and it was great to invite all my class members and have my partner and son offer nibbles and wine. Big thanks to them, I could not have done it by myself!
It’s a lot to think about and get organised for the first year, but for subsequent years it does get a lot easier.
Perhaps you’ve thought of something else you might need or have a question?
Here’s my Studio in the before chaotic mess and the after serene tranquility ha! Watch the transformation of my messy Studio into a serene Art Gallery…
Great Blog Sue. I’d like to be part of the Open Studios next year. My main challenge is not having a suitable studio for people to visit. Will have to investigate who I could team up with in my area. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
You’re welcome Tricia. I’m sure you’ll find somewhere. We have a Facebook group with all the artists who do the open studios, maybe there us one for your area x
I visited Sues Open Studio. She was so welcoming and it was lovely to meet her face-to-face. Her studio is beautiful, something to aspire to!
Hi Ann, it was wonderful to meet you last year, thank you for coming 😊
Great subject matter Sue! Having taken part in these events myself they are great for exposure and gaining new sales. They are a nice way to spend a few summer days as well, both as an exhibitor and as a visitor
Love reading your blog Sue , I’m taking part for the first time this year . Honestly never thought I would get to this stage . Thankyou for all the useful tips . I will definitely get some business cards. And a visitor book . Good luck to everyone taking part this year .
Lovely blog, great to see your enthusiasm and the transformation of a working studio to a pristine gallery.
Will have to look into this a bit more, would love to have an exhibition from home but the effort you have shown in printing and promoting seems pretty daunting.
I have so many portraits and paintings that have been done to get better at pastelling, l need to offload them before my wife gets too irritated by the space they are taking up.
I’m hoping to join in with this next year but will spend this year visiting lots of studios, may get all my Xmas shopping done 🙂 how do you know what to charge for a painting some people say I’m offering my work far too cheap but as I’ve only been painting for 2 years I’m worried my work isn’t up to the standard of alot of artists x