Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ten Tips For Hosting a Successful Open Studio

1. Two months out: Give 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. Check your supply of prints – you may want to have some on hand, especially if your Open Studio date is before the Christmas holidays. Small prints make great gifts – and you can even offer to personalize them! 

5.) Four weeks out: Take stock and start organizing your originals and prints. Create labels with titles and prices. Do any of your prints or originals need frames? Order now (try Colorado Frames for wholesale custom frames at artist friendly 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. 

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 
  •  Sign up sheet to get emails (for your e-newsletter ;-) 


  •  Finger foods – salty/crunchy and sweet 
  •  Wine or punch, coffee or tea 
  •  Water in pitcher or bottled water
  •  Glasses (recyclable plastic or “real”) 
  •  Plates (recyclable paper or “real”) 
  •  Napkins 


  •  CD player/ CDs (or Pandora, etc.)
  •  Lighting 
  •  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. 

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.Her website is www.katedardine.com

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Sky's the Limit!

A recent post by Lori Woodward on Fine Art Views got me thinking about limited editions.  In the post, Lori asks the question, “Does limiting editions create value?” You can read the post here.

Her conclusion and mine are similar. In my experience, both with over 25 years in the printing industry and as a professional artist selling prints of my original paintings, is that limiting editions, for most artists and photographers, does NOT create value (or increase sales!)

Before I go into my reasons for not limiting editions, let me say that there are a few occasions when limiting an edition makes sense.

My Top Three Reasons for Limiting Print Editions:

  1. When the artist has achieved “star” status – originals selling in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, when the demand for the artist’s works outpace his or her ability to produce it or when the artist is a celebrity, like Grace Slick, Tony Bennett or Tony Curtis. In cases like that, a hand-signed and numbered limited edition print has perceived value and may increase in value over time.

2. When the prints are made to be sold to raise funds for a non-profit, such as a Museum, and only a specific number of prints will be made.

          3. When the prints ARE the original, such as in works created using the computer as a medium, or hand-pulled original prints such as monotypes, serigraphs, etc.

My Top Three Reasons for NOT Limiting Editions:
1.  Bookkeeping. Because giclĂ©e and photo prints can be printed on demand, the task of numbering them becomes more difficult without a good system in place for keeping track of the numbers.

      2.  If you limit the edition and the print is popular, once you sell out the edition you can’t make money on that image anymore. Why limit the income you can make on an image?

3      3. Unless you are a top-tier artist whose new works are sold for $$$$ before the paint is dry, people buying prints from you are not likely looking at the purchase as an “investment.” They like the image and want to hang it in their home.
Don’t Limit, But Do Sign!

A signed print holds more appeal than one that is not signed by the artist. A while back I took an “unofficial” poll of people who bought prints. Most people said they liked it when the print was signed – that it meant more to them and had more value than if it was not signed. A few said that given the choice between a signed or unsigned print, they would choose signed and might even pay a little more. Very few said they would pay more for a print because it was a limited edition, unless “the artist is well-known/famous.”

If You Are Set on Limited Editions:
1       1. Do keep good records! An Excel spreadsheet is a good way to keep track of which print numbers have been used.

       2.  Make sure you know from the outset whether you will have separate editions for different sizes or whether your edition includes all sizes.

3         3. Include a Certificate of Authenticity with each limited edition print, stating the type of print, title, original medium, number and size of edition. At Fine Print, we give Certificates with each custom print order which document the type of print, expected longevity, and proper care. The artist can then fill in their name, title, original medium and edition. Our certificates can also be used for open editions.

       Kate Dardine is a professional artist and the marketing director for Fine Print Imaging and Colorado Frames. You can see her work at www.katedardine.com.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

by Kate Dardine

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are walking through the spooky forest when they are stopped in their tracks by a loud roar. They are terribly frightened, and imagining the worst, they quicken their pace to put some distance between themselves and the imagined danger.

How many times in your life have you done the very same thing: imagined the worst and run away before taking the time to face your fears? How many times did your big fear turn out to be no more threatening than the cowardly lion himself?

For many of us, the fear of rejection has us running from situations that might actually be beneficial. As an artist, my work is very personal; I put my heart and soul into each piece. When I look at one of my paintings, I know what my emotional state was at the time I created it. Showing my work can leave me feeling vulnerable – and so maybe I decide not to risk seeking gallery representation, entering a show or even showing my work to anyone at all. The fear of being rejected roars from the shadows, convincing me that the risk is too BIG and SCARY. 

But what if I confronted that fear? Stopped and looked it in the eye? What is the worst that could happen? The gallerist may decide that my work is not a good fit. OK, there are other galleries. I might not get accepted into the show. OK, there are other shows. Someone may say they don’t like the painting. OK, not everyone is going to like everything. Those are risks I can live with, and the benefits  - being represented by a gallery, getting into to the show and maybe winning an award, having someone deeply connect with my work – are worth the momentary pang of self-doubt that we all feel when moving outside our comfort zone.

In order to market their work, artists need to spend a certain amount of time outside the safety of their studio. There are opening receptions, awards ceremonies, gallery walks, auctions and banquets that we must attend. In my case, I usually go by myself. I used to fear going alone – I felt that I needed another body there, someone to talk to… a security blanket to shield me from the uncomfortable task of seeking out new people. Leaving my “blanket” behind and attending functions solo was very scary. The first time I could barely get myself out of the car! It took awhile, but I found the courage to walk up to people and introduce myself. And just like most fears, the imagined part was much worse than the actuality.

 Although I am not by nature an extrovert, I can smile and be friendly. I can introduce myself and ask “Is this your first time in the gallery?” or, “How are you connected to this organization?”  I have yet to have anyone refuse to speak to me or laugh at me or make me feel stupid. I have yet to pass out or say something incredibly stupid (at least no one has been rude enough to tell me!) However, I have met lots of wonderful people, some of whom have ended up buying paintings from me, some of whom have been good connections and some of whom have become friends. Now the big scary monster I feared has been reduced to a few fluttering butterflies in my stomach.

Next time you start convincing yourself not to do something because it is outside your comfort zone, look your fear in the eye and do it anyway. Just like the Mighty Oz, your fear may turn out to be no more than a frightened little man hiding behind a curtain. And you will discover, like the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion, you have lots of Heart, you’re Smart, and you’ve got Courage to spare! But you’ll never find out if you don’t try.

Kate Dardine is a professional artist and the marketing director for Fine Print Imaging and Colorado Frames. You can see her work at www.katedardine.com.