I recently hosted an open studio event that was part of an amazing art walk in my neighbourhood called ROVE. It was a "one night only" affair and with other arts organizations involved there was a great deal of hype and an amazing attendance!
I tried to prepare for all the details in the weeks leading up to the event but I underestimated the time it would take and sure enough I had to scramble around all day before the event ! But it was a great success and worth a little panic and excitement.When you host an event like this there are a few things that you can consider so that you are free to try to chat with as many people as possible. Here's a few ideas in case you are curious to host an open studio yourself - some that I have tried and some that I'll try next time!
1. Get an assistant - if you can pay or get a volunteer to support you during the event. They can handle the money so that when you make a sale you can direct the buyer to someone who will be ready to help them and keep track of what is going on. Trust me when I say you may not remember who bought what and when. This person can also get the buyers contact info so that you can personally thank them again for their purchase the next day.
2. Safety in numbers - get friends to be present during each block of time. This isn't just about feeling unsafe but also about friends noticing if someone start digging through your art supplies or other suspicious activities. When you open your space up to the public - this means everyone - sometimes criminals!
3. Connect with everyone and give them a chance to get updates from you. Give something away for free and make sure you let every know that they should submit to win. Have forms on hand and give people the option of checking a box to receive your email updates. This is great because it will help you to A) connect with new fans by collecting emails for future updates B) Allow everyone the chance to get something that you have made even if they don't want to spend money C) When you go through the forms later you can refresh yourself about the names of some of the people that you met. I have a bad memory for names so it's very helpful for me!
4. Consider having some light refreshments - especially if it's hot or around dinner time! I have a fridge in my studio but you can fill a cooler with ice and buy some sparkling water, beer or wine. Just make sure to pick-up some cups!
5. Signage to direct people into the space is important. My open studio was a part of an event called ROVE so all the signage on the door and directing people up the stairs and down the hall simply said ROVE with an arrow.