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April 2008

Moving into a New Studio Space

Dear Harriete,

I am a mixed media mandala artist. For the past two years, I have been working out of my kitchen, and am now moving into my very first studio space.  It's an exciting time, but also a daunting task.  Do you have any suggestions that might make for a smooth(er) transition?   Psanky_pankyweb_4 Is there a studio checklist perhaps for things I will need but haven't thought of yet?   Storage ideas?  Easy ways to hang framed pieces that won't mean putting a lot of unnecessary holes in the walls?  This will primarily be a workspace for me, but I do expect to be doing some retail sales, also.

Stacy Wills
A Magic Mom & Her Mandalas

Dear Stacy,
Moving into an official studio space sounds like a big step, the important thing is to make sure it inspires new work. It is good to hear that you are thinking about how to display your work for an Open Studio event early on in this process.

FIND INEXPENSIVE STORAGE My first thought is storage. Every media needs storage for materials, supplies, and finished work. Closed storage (cabinets) will look a lot neater than open storage(shelves) and keep the items in the cabinets clean. Look online on Craig’s list for “FREE” old kitchen cupboards or furniture or go to recycling centers or businesses to find the least expensive storage cabinets possible. IF you cover the eclectic mix of furniture with a uniform color of paint it will look pretty neat and tidy.

STORING PAINTS AND CHEMICALS If you have any chemicals, solvents, flammable liquids or paints put them in a cupboard that is appropriately labeled on the outside of the cupboard with the appropriate signs (i.e. flammable, acids, chemical, etc.) These signs are available at the hardware store.  Acids should be stored separately from cyanide-based liquids. Read the cautionary labels on the products for appropriate storage.

HANGING WORK For hanging work, older homes used to have a piece of molding attached to the wall 6" – 12” down from the ceiling. It was a great idea for hanging pictures without damaging the walls.  This would be a perfect solution. “Picture rail molding is still commercially available and is Road_to_morroccoweb_2 sometimes specified for new homes as well. Picture rail hooks are S-shaped steel hooks that fit tightly against the profile of the wood picture rail. Pictures are hung from picture rail molding by running Picture Wire down from the picture rail hooks (usually two per picture)” You can read more about picture rail molding here.    Picture rail molding with suitable hooks may be available at your local hardware store if you prefer.

CONSIDER MAKING LABELS FOR YOUR WORK As you hang your finished paintings, consider making labels just like those at the galleries and museums. One label for each painting. Labels should include: NAME of the Artist, DATE (year) of the work, MATERIALS (keep this short), and the RETAIL PRICE.  This can be formatted on your computer, printed on the printer, and attached Sunburstweb_4 to foam core with rubber cement. Cut the foam core into rectangular shapes with a VERY sharp matte knife.  Attach to the wall with the gummy adhesive used for hanging posters without nails. Consider including a short paragraph or artist's statement about the work prepared in exactly the same manner. This should be done perfectly, just like in museums and galleries to look professional.

PROTECT YOUR TOOLS Consider keeping the more valuable or expensive tools and paints in a cupboard so that they can be easily put away any time your studio is open to the public.
Another practical consideration is that when your studio was at home, you were probably sharing the hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, etc,  that you used for home repairs with your tools demands in the studios. Now you will need to have your own tools for the studio. As you transition to your new studio space, keep a running list of tools you use in the studio and borrowed from home.  Buy a separate set of tools for the studio as your budget allows.

When you are ready to host your first Open Studio, don't forget to download the document  Open Studio: Artist Checklist in the Professional Guidelines.

GOOD LUCK with your new studio,

This post was updated on December 17, 2021

Open Studios: An opportunity to practice speaking about your work.

Recently, I participated in a teleseminar with Alyson Stanfield from about hosting an Open Studio event.  An Open Studio event provides an opportunity for artists and craftspeople to reach a broad audience, educate their community, and ultimately develop new markets. During these events, the general public is invited to view the artists’ studios, to experience this creative environment, and, hopefully, to make a purchase directly from the artist.

What distinguishes an Open Studio event from a Studio Visit or museum-sponsored tour is the intended audience. Whether organized under the auspices of a community arts group or by independent artists, an Open Studio event welcomes the general public rather than a specific group. Some of those who attend an Open Studio Event may never venture into an art or craft gallery or attend a museum exhibition opening. It is this egalitarian distinction that makes an Open Studio event a vibrant addition to the community.

At an Open Studio, the artist is speaking to the public about their work. This may be the first time you have had an opportunity to verbalize about your current work, the concepts behind the artist's inspiration, or the processes involved. A major benefit to the Open Studio is that you get a chance to practice verbalizing ideas that up until this point you may never had to say out loud before. As each new group of people comes to your studio during the day, practice and refine your "speech."

An Open Studio event can be your own "Toastmasters" club on a small intimate scale. Think of it as practice for your first television interview with Charlie Rose. (That is my personal mental goal.)

What should you consider saying? What should you tell each person? Here are a few suggestions (in no particular order):

1. Think about your audience. Their age, gender, or background may influence their angle of interest and the direction of your studio "speech."

2. Keep your artist's lecture energetic, enthusiastic, and short. (How can you expect them to be excited about your work unless you are!)

3. Establish your credibility. At the very least you are the studio expert.  Consider that you are developing a unique artistic vocabulary with your chosen media. Without bragging tell people about your areas of expertise, the shows you have been in, or your experiences.  Remember "everyone loves a winner."

4. Avoid using "art speak". Use words and a vocabulary suitable for the person(s) you are speaking to.

4. Listen to yourself and practice with your Open Studio audience. Avoid audible pauses such as "uhhh...," "ummmmm," and others. Audible pauses are very difficult for the listener to enjoy.

5. Be positive, this is not the time to beat yourself up with negativity. You are the "art star" at your Open Studio, act like one. (I said "art star" not prima donna.)

6. Be professional. Make every effort to make your Open Studio the best possible open studio event.

7. Ask your audience for questions, you may learn a lot from the questions. (I learn from your comments and questions, so let me know what you have to say.)

8. Enjoy yourself! and enjoy your audience!



 This post was updated on December 17, 2021