Opening Your Studio 101: Preparing for GOS

Below you will find the worksheet from the Arts Gowanus artist workshop presented on September 29th, 2016 by Miska Draskoczy on how to prepare for Gowanus Open Studios.

WHY ARE YOU DOING OPEN STUDIOS?

First, take a moment to identify why you are doing open studios. It will help you come up with a game plan for how to achieve your goals. It could be some or all of the following:

  • Get feedback on work in progress
  • Make industry contacts
  • Widen your audience
  • Sell work
  • Demonstrate your process

Below are some tips on how to achieve each of these goals.

Get Feedback on Work in Progress

  • Wait to see what people say first.
  • Have a list of questions to ask to engage people in dialog.
  • Have an open mind, don’t lecture or disagree.
  • Notice what people respond to and roll it into your next conversations.
  • Mix it up from Saturday to Sunday, do A/B testing, different series, edit, presentation, artist statement, etc. between days. Feel free to experiment.
  • Invite trusted colleagues to GOS who can give you more focused critiques. Perhaps arrange for people to meet in your studio just before or after regular GOS hours for a special review session.

Make Industry Contacts

  • Make sure you have a current and great artsicle page, curators look at these!
  • Send an email blast to all your curator/gallerist/PR contacts ahead of time.
  • Treat everyone equally, unassuming visitors can turn out to be decision makers, they don’t always announce who they are!

Widen Your Audience

  • Make sure you promote to your lists via email newsletter and social media.
  • Think about cultivating ‘advocates’ for your work. People can help with whatever resources they have.
  • Treat everyone equally, you never know how someone could help you out.

Selling Work

  • Keep it under $100, even better is under $25, to make sale the day of.
  • Larger sales take time, sometimes months or years later – always follow up after GOS.
  • Have price lists, both printed for takeaways and as a .pdf to email follow up.
  • Have other takeaways, like postcards and business cards with your work and contact info.
  • Create and promote a ‘GOS special’ – discount price, special series, etc.
  • Price accordingly – use other artists at same career stage as you as a guide.
  • Keep prices consistent across other channels, especially galleries & dealers.

Demonstrate Your Process

  • Keep it short and sweet, something that allows you to interact with visitors.
  • Have equipment, materials, processes already set up so you can focus on talking about it vs actually doing it.
  • Shoot some video ahead of time demonstrating your process and play it on a computer or TV screen during GOS.
  • Publicize a specific time slot for a performance, reading, talk, demonstration, etc.

 

MARKETING AND PROMOTION TIPS

Before GOS

  • Update your website, CV, press clippings, artist statements, and contact lists.
  • Send a newsletter blast or two to your list in the weeks before GOS.
  • Post on social media in the weeks leading up to GOS. Use #GOS2016 and tag @artsgowanus .
  • Identify key friends, industry contacts, press, etc., and reach out to them individually to invite to GOS.
  • Create something unique for GOS, a special series, launch, demo, discount, etc., and publicize it ahead of GOS. People love something special.
  • Make sure you have plenty of PR materials ready, postcards, business cards, price lists, etc. Nextdayflyers.com is great for quick & cheap printing, the local Staples is good for last minute 24hr turnaround.
  • Prominently display a ‘highlight piece’ something that attracts attention, has a good story behind it.
  • Set up PayPal or Square to accept credit cards for sales.
  • Make sure there are accurate signs and balloons in the hallways and at the building entrance to help people find your studio.

During GOS

  • Talk to everyone! Many people will not engage with you until you make the first move.
  • A good way to engage people is to ask questions vs making statements. “How’s your open studios going?” “What do you think of the work?” or just say “Let me know if you have any questions.”
  • Make sure you have a sign-in sheet or guest book and make everyone sign it with their email address (and name if possible). Some won’t, but it never hurts to ask politely.
  • Keep postcards, biz cards, and pricelists displayed prominently and in multiple places. As people are leaving, invite them to take a postcard/biz card.
  • If you have press clippings, put a couple up on the walls for people to read. If you have lots of press, also make a press binder and display for browsing.
  • Take pictures of people in your studio, including shots of yourself.
  • Consider hiring an assistant or having a friend help you out. This makes it much easier to focus on conversations with visitors.
  • Have some snacks or drinks out, nothing messy. Pretzels and wine are good.

After GOS

  • FOLLOW UP!!!! It’s critical that you send an email blast/newsletter to everyone who signed your guest book, plus your full list within a week of GOS.
  • Try to make notes of who said what while still fresh in your mind.
  • Follow up individually with key contacts, those interested in sales, etc.
  • Post photos of your studio with the GOS crowds to social media & your newsletter.
  • Write a blog post about your GOS experience, post it to social media and include in your newsletter.

For more tips check out: artsgowanus.org/resources-for-artists

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