Something I Would Love To Do....

I found this article this afternoon while looking up DFW Galleries.  I have been wanting to do something like this in my huge living room for a few months now.  I think about it and get excited and nervous.  I would love to host and open house to my art friends and invite the art world in.  Getting it done AND still able to paint and create with all that my life holds would be almost too challenging at the moment.  I love this story and one....maybe just one day.....I will have mine to share!

Allworth Press announces its latest book to aid the artist in business:

Many artists have discovered that getting their work into a gallery isn’t the only path to success. In his new book Selling Art Without Galleries: Toward Making a Living from Your Art, author Daniel Grant shows how a wide range of artists have found prestige, art world acceptance, and ready groups of buyers through nontraditional venues such open studio events. Below is an excerpt from Selling Art Without Galleries: Making art seem fun to the public, rather than mysterious, incomprehensible, and solitary, has led a growing list of artists and municipalities around the country to create community open studio events, taking place on one or two days or a series of weekends. What works and doesn't work in attracting and keeping visitors is a matter of trial and error, and not everyone has had the same results. Something as basic as shaking a visitor's hand when that person enters and leaves the studio may add a note of ceremony to the occasion.

Practice has made (almost) perfect for Richard Iams and Buck McCain, two painters living in Tucson, Arizona, who have been holding a joint annual open studio—actually, open house—every March since 1993. Organized and run by their wives, Donna Iams and Melody McCain, the event drew thirty walk-ins the first year and grew to the point where it is an invitation-only affair for 350 collectors. (The final number may be higher, because many invitees bring guests who they believe might also be interested in the artwork.) From this experience, Donna Iams has learned what has and hasn’t worked:

• "Start planning the open studio six or seven months in advance," she said. That planning includes checking that no other major events are taking place that day at neighboring colleges or in the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament ("someone once asked us if we had a television"), scheduling the printing of brochures, flyers and postcards, hiring caterers, florists, and parking attendants.

• Notify people months in advance.“When we first started, we tried telling people a month in advance, but so many people had already made other plans," she said. "They told us, 'We wish you had let us know earlier, so we could have put it on our calendar.'" Richard Iams' holiday cards (Hannukah for Jews, Christmas for Christians) each contain a brief handwritten note about the show, followed up in late January by a postcard with information about the open studio event on the back and an image of a painting that will be on display. One month before the event, a newsletter is mailed out, containing between four and six images, the times and date of the showing, a map and a request for an R.S.V.P. ("The first time we had more than 300 people, we ran out of food").

• Make it one day. "The first few years, we did shows over two days, on Saturday and Sunday, from 2 to 5 P.M.,but that was very exhausting," she said. "You have to set up twice and take everything down twice. We switched to a one-day show, from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., and that’s worked out a lot better." A problem with the second day, she noted, is that collectors believe that "if they didn't come the first day, everything will be gone, so they didn't come the next day." Over the course of that nine-hour day, she found that the flow of visitors was relatively constant.

• Have a range of artworks to show. Each artist puts out approximately twenty artworks, consisting of five paintings and the remainder sketches and small studies for larger pieces. It is the less expensive sketches that are most likely to sell, especially to visitors who are just starting to collect. "For the first three years." Donna Iams said, "we tried to make the display look like an art gallery," but they switched to a far less intimidating and formal approach, putting unfinished and unframed pieces on the floor, perhaps in a corner. (Their house looked like a house again.) "People like to root through things. When they find something out of the way, they feel as though they've made a discovery."

• Provide food and drink. As the open studio became an all-day event, the foods need to change for different times of the day ("no one wants to eat a sandwich in the morning"). Before noon, the serving is similar to a continental breakfast, with cinnamon rolls and fruit, changing to carrots and celery sticks, chips and salsa, chimichangas and fajita sticks (kept in warming hot plates) by the afternoon and evening. "Sandwiches don't work," she said. "They dry out." Guests are limited to two free drinks, including beer, wine, and juices."We try to use top-end wines, costing generally $15–20 a bottle. We don't want to invite people in and then give them cheap things to eat and drink. I've heard at gallery openings people say, 'Gee, this gallery must not be doing well if this is what they serve' or 'I think this wine has been watered down.' We want to project an image that we can provide nice things."

• Make yourself available. For the first three years, Donna and Melody prepared and served all the food and beverages themselves, "and we never had time to talk to people." That talking has proved quite valuable, discussing the business side with collectors (prices, commissions, how and when to make deliveries), making sure that visitors sign the guestbook and stepping in to continue conversations with visitors when their husbands are being monopolized by individuals for too long. They hired a caterer and a bartender, both of whom were allowed to put out their business cards. As a result, the caterer drummed up a considerable amount of business, too, and gave Donna and Melody a sizable discount (10 percent the first year, 50 percent most recently).

• "Name tags don't work," she said."People hate them." Visitors prefer to remain anonymous to one another but are usually willing to put their name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address in the guest book.
• Flower arrangements add to visitors' pleasure, while parking attendants alleviate concerns about where to park and the safety of their cars. For her own peace of mind, Donna Iams removes prescription medications from the bathrooms, breakable pottery that may be bumped by people walking through the house, and pocket-size valuables (small sculpture, for instance) that might be stolen. She also purchased additional liability coverage for her homeowner's insurance policy (approximately $50) for that one day. The entire cost of staging the open studio is $1,500, including $575 for catering, $300 for wines, beer, and hard liquor, $150 for parking attendants, and the remainder for printing and mailing.

• Every visitor takes away a packet of images—postcards and brochures, mostly, and biographical information about the artists. Donna and Melody have also set up a print stand where visitors may purchase reproductions of their husbands' paintings.

• After the event, every visitor will be sent a handwritten thank-you note for coming. At the open studio, Donna and Melody hire a photographer to take pictures of visitors, posing actual buyers with the artist and the work purchased. These photographs will accompany the thank-you notes.