by Lisa McGrimmon
It's the day of your big art studio tour. You're abuzz with excitement and probably a bit nervous, too. You've done all you can ahead of time to prepare and promote your open studio. It's time to make visitors feel welcome and be a gracious host to your studio guests.
It can feel a bit disconcerting to just walk into a stranger's home (which is what visitors do on a studio tour). Believe me, I have wandered around the outside of homes on studio tours looking for signs to assure me I could walk in.
Do ensure the entrance to your studio or home is clearly marked with plenty of signs welcoming guests and letting them know they are welcome to come in.
Art studio tour organizers will provide you with official signs to mark your location, but you may also decide to add some signs of your own directing people to the correct entrance if it is not clear where people should enter, or telling people to come on in.
Serving refreshments is not always practical. It won't be right for everyone. But sometimes simple refreshments can help set a mood and make visitors to your studio feel welcome.
You can use refreshments to create a homey, welcoming vibe. Imagine, for example, customers walking into your home on a brisk fall day and being greeted by the aroma of warm, spiced apple cider in your crock pot. I'd definitely linger in a space like that.
Be sure to serve simple, easy to eat or drink items. You don't want people to be too distracted by the food or drink, and you don't want to serve anything that might make a mess in your studio.
A few things to avoid include:
Be ready to greet visitors. A few simple opening lines that you can use throughout the day will help to start conversations.
You can build conversations by:
Once you get the conversation started, it will likely flow fairly naturally. Remember, your visitors made a specific trip to your studio because they were interested in your work, so they will be interested in hearing more about how you do what you do.
If you are in your studio it will probably be fairly natural to show your process in order to engage visitors.
If you are not in your studio, have samples out that show your process whenever possible. Perhaps you could show a work in progress or some of the tools you use to create your work.
Be sure to tell your visitors about a show you have coming up at an art gallery, or classes that you teach, or your website. Provide marketing materials (business cards or brochures) visitors can take away so they can find you again easily.
Consider providing a guest book that you encourage visitors to sign, which will allow you to grow a mailing list of people you can contact whenever you have an upcoming show. You'll find some fun tips to encourage people to leave their email addresses here.
Sometimes art studio tours are more about building your name and making a first contact with people. This is particularly true for people who sell higher-end items. You'll want to be able to build on that first connection by giving customers a way to connect with you again.
Don't try to do a studio tour by yourself without an assistant. If your studio gets busy or you need a quick break, you'll be happy to have the help.
Do be careful to avoid taking long or frequent breaks, though, because your visitors have come to see you (the artist) in your work space. But if you've been able to have a quick break when you need one, you'll be able to give visitors your full attention. Likewise, if your studio gets busy, your assistant will be able to speak with guests while you're busy with others.
Do you need to apply to your local art studio tour? Here's how to make the best impression with your application.
Have you been accepted to a tour, and now you need to prepare? Here are steps you can take to get more visitors to your studio.