The following blog post contains an extract from the book Learn to Earn from Printmaking. In Chapter 3: Methods of Selling Products, the book discusses a variety of places where you can sell your work, whether that be prints or printed products. So this week I have decided to share with you one of my favourite ways to get your work out there in from of the public – using Open Studios and Art Trails.
Many areas of the country hold regular open studio weeks or art trails. It allows larger galleries, small venues, workshops and individual artists to open up their studios or exhibition spaces for the duration of the trail for the public to come around and visit the venue and possibly buy work. It does rely on the artist having a space available to show work but this need not be large or a public space at all (I have rummaged through many private gardens and through peoples houses on local arts trails in my area). The unique opportunity to see the environment that the art was produced in and speak to the artist is a great attraction for people to attend. It is also a great way for people to buy affordable works. This method is great if you have a dedicated working space or studio but you can also approach other spaces if you would rather not have people visiting your home.
The cost of this way of promoting your work is fairly limited and really depends on how much work you need to put into your studio space to make it viewable to the public. Costs may also include flyers and other promotional information and food / drinks for visitors. You may also need to frame your prints in preparation and there may be a cost involved in this. The art trail or open studio organiser may ask for an entry fee or marketing charge for taking part.
The only real equipment that you will need is you and your studio.You may need to frame works in preparation and also have marketing materials ready to hand out.
Search your local paper, library, the internet and arts venues to see whether your local area holds this type of event. They are held at various times of the year and last for between one to four weeks. Contact the organisers of the event and speak to them about what you need to do to take part and how the process works. They will usually need to know well in advance to generate the trail guide and produce the promotional materials. Find out the dates and all finer details before booking – remember that you will need to have someone man your studio at all times if you are opening up your own studio to visitors.
Talk to them about the benefits of running workshops, taster sessions or artists talks. There can be plenty of opportunities to get involved and boost your presence in the local area. If you do not have an available space for joining an open studio event, you may be able to show your work in another venue on the trail. Lots of church halls, galleries and other venues are usually utilised to show work so do not rule this option out if you do not have a space you think you can use. Local independent businesses can also be a good option. For example, in the past, I have exhibited in local restaurants, cafés and gift shops when taking part in arts trails. These small businesses may want to take part and work with artists as it is great publicity for them – they get a good footfall and people coming around to look at the work and see their own businesses too. For an artist, the benefits are that the business you choose will be staffed (so you don’t have to be there one hundred percent of the time) and that you can take part without too much intrusion into your home or studio. It can work well for both parties. Think about approaching independent businesses to suggest this or speak to the art trail organiser to see if they can suggest some venues that may want to participate in this way.
The trail organisers will usually produce their own promotional materials including flyers, posters, local adverts and usually a website too. They also produce a trail map or brochure showing the public the venues available and the way to get to them all. Each venue will be given a number or reference and a corresponding small sign placed outside to help show where the studio is. It is a great chance to become involved in your local community art scene and show your work in an event along with other larger galleries that attract larger audiences. Make sure that your work is arranged attractively and clearly in your space. Whether you decide to hang your work or simply wrap it in cellophane and display in a box is up to you. Make sure that people understand where to walk if your studio is tucked away and have a personal statement and selection of flyers and business cards for them to take away. Always put out a guest book for people to sign and add these names to your contact list for future events.
It may also be worth considering running small demonstrations and workshops to attract people to your venue. Printmaking is a great activity to teach to both adults and children alike and can help to explain to the pubic how you produce your work. If people have met you, and seen how you make your work, they will appreciate it more and be more likely to purchase something whether this is a larger print, card or smaller gift item. If you are unsure what to do, attend an open studio event or art trail first to see how it works and talk to the artists exhibiting to see how they get on. From this research you should be able to put on a great open studio exhibition.”
I hope you enjoy exhibiting your work at an Open Studio or Art Trail event.
For more ideas of ways to sell and promote your work please take a look at the full book Learn to Earn from Printmaking which is available on the online shop as well as on Amazon.co.uk and as a Kindle ebook.