Hello Creative Women! This past weekend, my studio and Craft Central had the last open studio of the year. My millinery studio Katherine Elizabeth Millinery, had our last big event here in Clerkenwell as big exciting changes are ahead for us! We will be moving into a shop in the OXO Tower this coming new year! We are very excited for this change. I have been doing open houses and open studios and we have always done very well. Here are some of my tips and tricks to help you be successful. XX
What is an Open Studio?
Open studios are events which landlords or groups of artists studios put together to get their work exposed to new and different people. Open studios are open to everyone and artistic and creative work can be viewed and seen to inspire, others, create connections, and even sell your work. Open Studios in Craft Central are open studio shops. Each studio keeps its door open and visitors are welcome to wander in and out looking at the works and buying as they please.
Any one can come to open studios! Many people who come are friends of other artists, former clients, current clients, art lovers, collectors, and others are normal people looking to break into the art scene and buy their first piece. Some are just there to gain inspiration and to look around, while some people may have just wandered in from the street! Keep in mind that when people wander in and out, some may not have cash on them if they want to buy, or my expect prices to be much lower than they are. Be prepared to direct people to the nearest ATM (if you don’t take cards) or be flexible in pricing!
What kind of work to expect
Open Studios range all kinds of crafts. Artists show fashion, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, accessories, ceramics, watercolor, prints, drawing, photography, woodworks, etc. Some studios and areas have buildings dedicated to fashion or fiber arts so expecting those types of works would be normal. Other buildings are full of an array of designers and craftsmen so expect an array!
How to price
Usually artists and craftsmen are selling an array of their work at open studios. If the event is taking place as a seasonal sale, try selling your past season at a low price, or sample sale, and selling your upcoming season at a higher price. Make sure you are showing an array of pieces at different price levels and many at the £5-£30 range. People usually come into sales like this looking for gifts or good deals expecting the crafts to be sold for less. Do not be afraid to bargain and give a normally £17 item at a 2 for £30 sale etc. Sample sales and open studios are as much about making connections, repeat clients, and friendships as much as it is about making money. So show your expensive works too but plan only to showcase them and sell the lower price option, and maybe you’ll have a great surprise by someone buying a higher end item!
How to make your shop stand out at open studios
Make it pretty! Display your work in a well-lit space and on a solid background. Showcase the craftsmanship and make it inviting for people to look at, touch, and try on! When visitors are looking through studio after studio everything starts to blend together, so make yours stand out! Use bright colored signs and display you most impressive works where potential buyers can see them whether they will buy them or not, this could attract them into your shop. If you have a display window, try decorating it for the time or year or season displaying a few pieces in it. This will get people excited to see what else you have to offer inside!
Keep it simple!
One of the biggest mistakes artists make at open studios is showing too much work, and not engaging with their visitors. Keep your space clean and clear by only showing pieces that you think people will buy and only those you have space for. Too many pieces on a table or in a display can make it look cluttered and cheapen the work. As people buy, replace the empty space with another piece you had stored in the back. If you are worried that if a customer might want something you do not have room to show, let them know you have more styles and colors you can show to them if they are interested. Try to read their interest in the products and make conversation.
Say hello to everyone who walks in the room and engage in friendly small talk. If you find that they are giving one word answers, they probably would rather not talk. In this case, kindly say, if you have any questions please let me know. Let your customer know they are free to try things on and ask them if they would like your help styling the accessory. Make them feel welcome and ask how their day is going. Always say thank you even if they do not buy anything. This is a time to remember that the customer is always right and not to force products upon them. We cannot sell to everyone!
How often open studios occur
Open Studios may be monthly, seasonally, or even yearly depending on where a studio is located. In spaces where there are a large amount of artist studios, usually the building or borough will organize a day or weekend where invites are sent and advertisement happens via newsletter and flyers to attract a group of people looking to buy custom pieces.
Are Open Studios Free?
As a visitor to open studios sometimes they are free and others may charge between £5-£10 for entry. Oftentimes, if you are a former client of an artist in the studios or you have visited the open studios before, you may receive a free entry pass to wave the entry fee. So send your loyal customers and those interested in coming, a free invite!
As a studio or artist showing at the open studios, usually it is also free for those who have rented studio space but for artists wanting to show work that are not tenants of the building, often times you can rent space in a studio from another designer/tenant or contact the open studio event organizer for a table or area. If you have a studio with extra space for another artist to show their work, consider selling them the space for about £100 for the weekend sale. You will get more people coming into your studio and can potentially both benefit from it!
Who Has Open Studios?
N22- Chocolate Factory Artists
Wimbledon Art Studios
Art West Open Studios
Brockley Open Studios
Art Colleges and Universities
Brighton Open Houses
(Search Open Studios in your city/area and you are bound to find a plethora!)