Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ten Tips for Hosting An Open Studio

by Kate Dardine

Hosting an Open Studio is a great way to give your collectors and potential collectors a glimpse into your creative process, interact in a relaxed setting and possibly even make a few sales! If you've never opened your studio to the public before, here is an action list that will help you organize and prepare for the big event!

1. Two months out - Giving yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare, select a date for your Open Studio. (I suggest at least two months preparation time.) The fairly moderate temperatures of Autumn and Spring make these two seasons great for Open Studios. Decide whether you want to hold the event on an evening during the week or during the day on the weekend (Sunday’s work best.) Decide what time you want people to arrive – and how long you want the event to last. Arrange to have a “helper” available on that day. Arrange to have someone baby sit the dog.

2.) Take a look at your studio – is it big enough to hold the event in the studio itself, or will you be opening up your home as well (assuming your studio is in your home)? Do you have enough wall space and good lighting to best show off your work? If not, can you bring in some display easels and purchase or borrow picture lights?

3.) Six weeks out: Design and order postcards to send to your mailing list*. The image on the front of the card should be one that is available for purchase. If you want people to RSVP, an incentive such as “10% off any purchase if you RSVP before ____” can help motivate and plant the seed of purchasing. Let people know whether or not it is appropriate to bring children.

4.) Five weeks out: Design and order or print brochures or sell sheets to have available for people to pick up at the studio. Check your stock of business cards – order more if needed.

5.) Four weeks out: Take stock and start organizing your originals and prints. Create labels with titles and prices.

6.) Two weeks out: Mail your postcards. If you send out an e-newsletter, send out an electronic invitation – use the same design as your postcard.

7.) Two weeks out: Decide on what type of appetizers and drinks you want to have available. Opt for finger-type foods that people can munch on as they walk around and view the artwork. Drinks can be as simple as a club soda and fruit juice punch to wines to mixed drinks.

8.) One week out: Clean your studio! Stash as much clutter as you can. If you have print bins, you can fill them with unframed prints or originals. No print bin? Baskets work wonderfully! Send a reminder email to your list.

9.) A few days before: Make sure you have the food and drinks you need. Decide what music you will want to have playing in the background and gather up those CD’s (hint: you might play the music you like to listen to while creating.) Hang paintings that are for sale clearly marked with labels. Take down any artwork not for sale – there is nothing more disconcerting to have someone fall in love with a painting on the wall – and have it not be one of yours! Make sure you have cash on hand for making change (yes, some people still pay with cash!) Make sure you have a Sales Receipt book (you can pick up a generic sales receipt book at any store that sells office supplies.) If you have a credit card machine, make sure you have enough receipts. If not, remember you can use your PayPal account for credit card transactions. Decide where you are going to set up your “cashier” stand/table. You want it easy to access with everything there, but you don’t want to hit people over the head when they first walk in the door. Gather up some packing materials – newspaper, bubble wrap, etc. and stash in an easy-to-access place. And make sure you have a guest book - you can increase the number of people who sign by having a raffle for a small print or notecards.

10.) An hour before: Have something to eat before guests arrive. It is difficult to talk about your art with your mouth full. Start setting out food and drinks, make sure paintings on the walls are lit, turn on the music (low at first, you can turn it up when there are lots of bodies!), take a deep breath and …relax! Enjoy the day!

Open Studio Checklist:


Sales Receipt book

Cash/credit card machine

Labels for artwork

Brochures or sell sheets

Business cards

Packing material

Guest book to get names, emails (for your e-newsletter ;-) and addresses


Finger foods – salty/crunchy and sweet

Wine or punch, coffee or tea

Water in pitcher

Glasses (recyclable plastic or “real”)

Plates (recyclable paper or “real”)



CD player/ CDs


Candles/Diffusers (very light scent, not overpowering)

*Only have three people on your mailing list? Make one up. Add: your neighbors (you can get names and addresses online in “City Records”), your friends, your doctor, accountant, insurance agent, dentist, co-workers, church members, club members, etc. Don't be shy - no one minds getting a beautiful postcard in the mail and many people will be thrilled to have the chance to see you in your creative element!

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 20 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.

Friday, October 16, 2009

So Just How Green Is Fine Print Imaging?

I promise! I am only going to use the word “Green” three times in this blog. And since I’ve already used it twice, um… I’ve got to do some fancy footwork since this whole blog is about being… environmentally conscientious.

Fine Print Imaging has been around for 35 years, so naturally we’ve seen a lot of transition in earth friendly philosophies. In September 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced that in spring 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration about the environment and that was the start of Earth Day.

That certainly shaped our small staff’s philosophy about how we wanted to run our business. That and also being products of the 60s and 70s generations.

And here we are today. Has Fine Print Imaging evolved into being a good steward of our planet’s resources? Let’s take a look:

  • Our commitment to conservation began with Images for the Environment in the 1980s and continues today with our Art for Conservation program.

  • Fine Print Imaging was awarded the 2009 Environmental Business Award by the Fort Collins, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce.

  • We promote grass-roots conservation initiatives by providing tens of thousands of dollars in printing services to artists, photographers and organizations world-wide who are working to protect and preserve the natural world and its inhabitants.
  • As a founding member and partner of the North American Nature Photography Association, we initiated the Philip Hyde Conservation Grant which annually gives $5,000 to a photographer who is using his or her photography to help preserve the planet.
  • We partner closely with the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a host of other conservation artists and organizations, providing funding, services and gallery space to promote their efforts to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography and art.
  • In addition to being 100% Alternative Energy Powered, Fine Print and its employees are focused on environmental responsibility in all of our daily decisions and actions. As we add new products to our printing line, conserving our natural resources and the quality of our environment is foremost in our minds.
  • Our fine art papers are made from either cotton or bamboo, both recyclable. Our papers made from easily replenished bamboo come from farmers in Thailand who are contracted by Hahnemühle, our paper supplier. Our cotton papers are made from cotton waste created by the textile industry. Neither our bamboo nor cotton papers are processed using chlorine.
  • We use “soft-proofing” wherever practical to color correct images. This requires no paper.
  • We have always far exceeded the EPA’s standards for our water quality (refuse water from our photo printing process).
  • Every scrap of recyclable paper is saved and recycled - much of it through re-use by making “Art Packs” for our customers and students.
  • We participate at the 100% EPA Eco Partnership level. (OK, the word isn’t really “Eco”, but I’m saving that other word for the end.)

This November, I’ve been invited to present at the World Wilderness Congress in Merida, Mexico.The two presentations I'll make will highlight the importance of conservation photography in convincing people to care for their planet. Face it, if we mess this one up, we really don’t have any other options.

While I’d like to think that they selected me for the presentations because of my charisma and natural intelligence (not likely), the real reason is that Fine Print Imaging and its employees have demonstrated throughout the last 35years that not only are they great stewards of our planet, they also are committed to assisting others deliver the conservation message.

If you think like us, we strongly urge you to join us not just as a customer, but as someone who wants to join an organization that will work with you to keep our planet Green!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pricing Prints Made (relatively) Easy

How do I price my prints? That has got to be one of the most frequent questions I get when talking to artists and photographers about entering the print market. For this article, I will concentrate on the simplest method for calculating resale pricing on your prints. That method is Multiplied Print Cost.

1. Artists and photographers just starting to sell prints of their work usually make one of two mistakes: pricing too high for their market or pricing too low and not making a profit. You have to find that happy medium. (Did I hear you say, “Duh?”)

2. The easiest method to calculate your print price is to figure out how much the print cost you to produce, and then multiply that number by four to get your retail price. For example, if you are selling an unframed, un-matted 16x20 print on Somerset Velvet paper, and the print cost you $46 to produce, your retail price would be $184. This pricing system works well if you are selling through a gallery that takes a 50% commission. After the gallery takes its $92, you are left with $92. Out of that you subtract your print cost of $46 and end up with $46 in profit.

3. If you are not selling in galleries or shows that charge a commission, then you have a little more leeway. Try multiplying print cost times three – in the case of the above-mentioned 16x20, your retail price would be $138. When you subtract out your cost of $46, you are left with a profit of $92. In this case, you can play around with the numbers to see what “feels” right. If $138 seems too high for your customer base, try multiplying by 2.5, for a retail price of $115, etc.

4. Another common mistake is forgetting to add in all the costs when figuring out your prices. If you have matted and framed your print, then you have to add that into your total cost. If you spent $100 framing your $46 print, then you have to make $146 to break even. If you are selling through a gallery, and they are taking 50%, then you have to at least double the cost of the framing ($200) and then add that to your print cost x 4 ($184). You won’t make money on the frame, but you won’t lose, either, and your profit will be the same as in #1. Some artists tack on a “framing fee” to the original framing cost. Even if you are just poly-bagging the print, you have to add that cost into the “cost to produce the print.”

5. When you are first starting out, it is better to sell for as low as you can and still make a profit. One way to do that is to reduce the cost of the print. The example above was for a giclée print on Somerset Velvet paper, which Fine Print charges .13 per square inch if you are ordering under 700 square inches. To get a better price, order more prints at once. If you order 2-16x20 prints (714 square inches), your “per print” cost goes down to $39. Or consider going with a less expensive paper. The same print on Epson Presentation paper would be $32. If you ordered two at once, the price would be $29 each. Another option is Lumira digital photographic prints. One 16x20 is $28, but if you order five, the price goes down to $17 each. Another way to keep your costs down is to produce smaller prints. An 8x10 on Somerset Velvet is $13.

See, it is not too difficult. Like most things in the art world, there are no hard and fast rules, no “magic bullet” for success. As I mentioned, if you are just starting out with prints, you will probably want to start as low as you can and still make a profit. If you are not selling through galleries, then you can even just double your print cost to start out. It is easier to raise prices if prints are flying off your shelves than to lower them if they are just languishing. And if this method doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other formulas for pricing out there. This just happens to be one that I think is easy – and works for me.

Here’s a bonus tip:
When establishing the price, try to keep it under the “barrier” numbers. So instead of $50, sell for $49. Instead of $100, sell for $98. Strangely, once you’ve broken a barrier, you can go higher. For instance, if someone is willing to pay $125 for something, they’d probably not blink at $149. Study pricing in retail stores and you’ll see what I mean.

OK, one more tip.
Sell in “package deals.” A photographer I know sells matted 5x7 prints at shows. One matted 5x7 is $39. If you buy two, you get them both for $59. But if you buy three, you get them all for $65. Guess what he sells most of? Yep, three prints.

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 20 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.