Recently, I participated in a teleseminar with Alyson Stanfield from artbizcoach.com about hosting an Open Studio event. An Open Studio event provides an opportunity for artists and craftspeople to reach a broad audience, to educate their community and ultimately to 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 a 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..." "and", '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 dona.)
6. Be professional. Make every effort to make your Open Studio as 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!