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Participating in Studio Tours

Art studio tours can provide excellent opportunities to introduce yourself and your work to people who have a real appreciation for art and other handmade items.

Here's how to make the most of participating in a tour including:

1. A general overview of open studios events

2. Understanding the application process

3. Preparing for the event

4. Making the most of the day(s) of the open studio.

Studio Tour Overview

Open studio events are generally organized by a local artists' association or guild. They are typically held in the spring or fall.

Participating in a spring open studio event can be nice because they generally occur in April or May, just before the main craft show season.

For many craft artists, sales opportunities are limited in the months of January to March, so participating in a local spring open studio can provide you with a welcome opportunity to connect with customers.

Likewise, fall art tours generally run in September or October when the late spring and summer craft shows have wound down for the year, and Christmas sales have not yet fully begun.

Open studio tours are normally juried, which means there's process in place for assessing applicants' work before they are accepted to the tour, and not everyone is accepted. The jurying process ensures the quality of the work represented on the tour is high and everything is handmade.

If you are not sure whether participating in an open studio event is right for you, try to attend a studio tour as a customer first so you get a feel for it.

Do keep in mind, though, that studio tour applications need to be submitted well in advance of the actual event date, so be sure to check the application deadline for any tour you are considering. That way you won't miss the deadline while you are making the decision.

To find out if there is an open studio tour in your area, simply check with your local artists' association.

On This PAge

If you are looking for specific information about artist studio tours and don't have time to read through the full article, use the links below to jump down to a specific topic.

How to apply to studio tours - Including:

Preparing for a successful open studio

Tips for the day(s) of the event

Applying to an Artist Studio Tour

Getting the Application Form

Once you've determined that your local art association does organize an open studio tour, check their website for details about the application process.

Alternatively, there may be a specific website dedicated to promoting the open studio tour, and you will often be able to find an application information there.

Keep in mind, if you are on a website dedicated to promoting the artists studio tour, the site's first job is to promote the event to potential customers. Therefore, the site will be written for customers, and the information for artists to apply will probably not be immediately obvious.

Check the site carefully for information; it may be found in a small, unobtrusive link near the top or bottom of the page.

Most studio tours will provide an application form and instructions for applying right on their site. If you can't find details about how to apply on their site, call the organizers or send an email.

Do Not Miss Deadlines!

Check the application deadline!

I can't stress this point enough.

If you are new to the jurying process, you might be surprised by how far in advance you need to apply to participate in a studio tour (the same is true for juried art shows).

Normally, you will need to submit your application approximately 6 to 8 months before the art studio tour. And the application process can be fairly involved and require a lot of work, (they get easier once you've completed a few) so you don't want to wait until the last minute.

Check Your Eligibility to PArticipate in the Art Studio Tour

Eligibility requirements to participate in an open studios tour vary from one tour to another, but there are some requirements that are typical for most studio tours.

Fees

There will be a cost to participate in the tour. Again, this varies widely, but fees often fall in the range of $100 to $400.

Residency Requirement

You may need to live (or have your studio space) in the area represented by the open studio tour. Which makes sense, since visitors will be coming out to your home/studio on the day of the tour.

Some studio art tours allow guest artists from out of the area to participate. Normally a guest artist would share space with a local artist who is also participating in the art studio tour.

Appropriate Work

Your work must be original and made and designed by you. If some aspect of your work is not handmade by you, you may need to provide details about that aspect of your work.

Appropriate Studio Space

You'll need a space that is appropriate for the general public to visit and can accommodate a lot of visitors.

Not all artists show their work in their studio. Some clear a space in a front room of their homes to show their work on a studio tour.

It is wonderful to be able to give visitors a look at your work space, if it is possible. However, not everyone has a work space that is appropriate for the general public. If you don't have an appropriate studio space, displaying your work in a front room of your home is an option that is acceptable to many studio tour organizers.

Studio Visit

Before you are accepted to the art studio tour, a member of the jury may visit your home and/or studio (where ever you will show your work on the day of the event) to ensure the space is appropriate.

Often this requirement only applies to artists who are new to the tour. Returning artists usually won't need a studio visit from a juror each year they participate in a tour.

Enough Work to Show

You'll need to ensure you have enough work to show to make your studio a worthwhile stop on the tour. Most shows don't specify the number of items you must have, simply because it varies depending on the type of items you make.

Vendor's Permit

Depending upon the business laws in you location, you may be required to have and display a vendor's permit in order to participate in art and craft tours.

If you do need a vendor's permit, and you don't have one, visit your closest business development center or your Chamber of Commerce. They will be able to tell you how to get a vendor's permit in your area.

Adequate Insurance

Many tour organizers require participating artists to sign a waiver stating the tour organizers have no liability for injury or property damage resulting from the studio tour.

Some organizers require you to provide proof that you have your own adequate business insurance.

Your insurance agent will be able to tell you whether your business insurance covers potential issues that may arise. Be particularly aware that having customers in your home/studio can cause issues with your insurance. If you do not usually have customers in your home/studio, you may not be covered for that event.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not an insurance specialist by any stretch of the imagination. You do need to talk to your own agent to assess your needs. A quick call to your insurance agent will help you to determine whether you have appropriate business coverage for this type of event and learn how to put it in place if necessary.

Completing the Application

Again, requirements will vary, so you need to carefully read the application information for the specific tour you would like to participate in. There are some requirements that are common to most events.

Typically your application will include:

  • Your completed application form
  • Several photos of your work
  • Artist's biography and/or artist's statement
  • Proof of insurance
  • Check to cover the fee
  • Self addressed stamped envelope

Your Completed Application Form

Application forms are normally quite straightforward. Organizers will ask for your basic contact information, the location of your studio, they may ask you to provide directions to your studio, and they may ask you to sign off on certain conditions of participating in the tour.

Be sure to read the application form carefully. It can help to read the form through once before you start answering questions, particularly if you are not clear about the meaning of a specific question.

Several Photos of Your Work

You will need to provide excellent images that show your work in the best possible light.

These photos will be used to determine whether the quality of your work meets that standards for the tour, so they must be exceptional. They may also be used in promotional materials, so you need photos that impress a jury and potential customers.

Read the application instructions carefully to determine exactly what type of photos you need to provide for the jury.

You will probably need to submit somewhere between 3 and 10 images. The jury may accept digital images, they may ask for a CD or they may accept traditional photos. If you are submitting digital images, there may be rules about the size and resolution of the photos, and there may be specific instructions for naming each photo.

If you aren't sure about photographing your work, you may consider hiring a professional photographer who can take excellent shots for you. If you're thinking about doing the photography yourself, the book Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles