Most cities have some kind of open studio event for artists. In my city (San Jose) we have Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) which is always the first 3 weekends of May. SVOS has been around for 31 years and covers about 39 different cities. The deadline to apply is December 31st. check out their website for more info and an application to participate.
I have participated in Silicon Valley Open Studios for the past 12 years. Some years I have participated solo in my studio, other years I have joined with groups of other artists, I have participated one weekend and on multiple weekends. I thought I would share some of the benefits of participating and tips to help you be more successful. I highly recommend that all artist participate. It has always been a great experience for me.
– You get to meet current and potential collectors. Open Studios is a great way to connect and network. The open studio format invites meaningful dialogue between artist and viewer.
– You keep 100% of your sales. Galleries usually take at least 30% and most take 50% of your sales. With SVOS you get to keep 100% of what you sell
– It’s a great way to become aware of other artists in your region who you might not know. You might be surprised how many artists live nearby.
– Open Studios is a more relaxed atmosphere and often people find it less intimidating and friendlier than a gallery.
– It’s a great opportunity to show new work or clear out older inventory.
There are lots of ways to make your SVOS event more successful. I will share a few with you here. SVOS also offers many workshops and educational opportunities for their participating artists.
– You get what you put into it. You can’t just rely on the map guide and SVOS website. You must do your part to market and promote you event. This means creating an event invitation on social media, sending emails out to your mailing list, listing your event on online sites even getting special postcards printed.
– Have all of your items labeled and priced, people really don’t like asking how much things are.
– Have a variety of price points, this allows people to support you and to maybe start with something smaller. Things like prints, blank cards, and small originals are great.
– If possible have some kind of demo or participation element. This is an added bonus that will draw people to your event.
– Have an email sign up list to collect the names of your visitors. Send them a confirmation and thank you email after the event.
– If you don’t have your own studio don’t fret, there are lots of artist groups that are looking for artists to join them. You can pair up with one other artist or join a larger group.
Quick side note: Your first year participating you might not get as many people attending as you hoped. Please don’t be discouraged. This is typical, building these relationships and following takes time. I encourage you to stick with it. Each year my attendance has increased tremendously.
Shannon Amidon is an award winning artist from San Jose, CA. She creates mixed media artwork primarily concentrating on the ancient medium of encaustic painting. She incorporates natural, upcycled and repurposed materials into her artwork, breathing new life into objects that would otherwise be destined for a landfill. Using environmentally safe and sustainable practices is very important to her.
Shannon’s artwork has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide. In 2015 she received the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award. In 2011 she was named the SV Creates Artist Laureate, receiving a Fellowship Grant. She was also the recipient of an Eco Art Grant and studio make-over from the Art Inspector part of the Zero One Art and Technology Network. Shannon has been an artist in residence at TechShop San Jose, Herhusid House Artist Residency in Iceland as well as the David and Julia White Artist Colony in Costa Rica. In 2012, 2015 and 2016 she was chosen to create a large, 400lb, 5ft x 6ft public art heart for San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.
She is active in her local arts community contributing her time, knowledge and art whenever possible. She is also involved in arts education outreach for teens and young artist mentoring.