Open Studio? Do Some Work to Make it Work!

Voyeur and art enthusiast that I am, I’ve always enjoyed open studio tours. This past weekend, I open studio tour stahosted my first one and, of course, I wanted it to be a success. I tried to keep an open mind when planning the event and think of some creative ways to produce good results. Since I’m a business consultant and an occasional party hostess, I applied that know-how to my event. I felt it went quite well, so I’ll share some tips as well as areas I’ll focus on improving next time.

Sign up early  – Read EVERYTHING the hosting organization sends you.  Our open studio tour was curated through CCAS – Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento. This organization is great with branding, marketing and creating reasonable and detailed guidelines for their artists. They had over 130 artists participate in the tours over 2 consecutive weekends. Since I was a newbie, I fell into line, read the communications and followed their wise guidelines. Sir, YES, SIR!

Work with other artists in your vicinity – I realized my studio is not in a high traffic area. To put it bluntly, I’m an outlier. To make the effort worthwhile, I contacted a group of artists nearby and suggested we meet to coordinate our marketing and PR efforts. This was an important step that led to increased success for all of us. The team members all had different strengths, we leveraged those and our efforts paid off with more traffic and sales. Everyone  I worked with was incredible. I made new friends!

Write a press release – Submit it to community calendars of publications in your area and submit it to local papers. We were fortunate to have photos of our work and our artist statements published in a local paper.

Provide written materials to the public before and at your opening – CCAS provides lovely, professional guides with maps for artists to distribute. Many artists aren’t natural marketers, but passing out these guides, postcards and other professionally done materials raises community awareness. Local merchants were happy to help. Send “Save the Date” cards. Be sure to include dates, times and maps. Notice, I keep bolding the word maps. Maps. Maps. Maps.

Use social media to promote your event – Broadcast the event through social media channels. Don’t drive people crazy…but mention it early and send a few consecutive reminders as the event date approaches. It’s your event, so naturally, it’s a big deal to you…other people may be more apt to forget, so gently remind them. Also take advantage of e-mail by sending your subscriber list an early announcement and a couple reminders as the date approaches. You may also use regular mail for your personal postcards that include, you got it, maps

prepare materialsPrepare the materials you will be offering for sale – For original works, don’t wait until the event is imminent to begin creating, you don’t need the stress! Need some time management tips? If you “Join the Tribe” by signing up for updates on my sidebar, that advice is this month’s free gift! Give yourself plenty of lead time to get giclees, prints, greeting cards, business cards and other materials printed and organized. Allow plenty of time if you decide to have your work professionally photographed. Make sure product quality is good. Your reputation is on the line.

Offer multiple price points –  Don’t be disappointed if people don’t buy original work. Offer items at various price points to suit everyone’s budget. Greeting cards, totes and other items featuring images of your favourite works, giclee prints and original art in various sizes are good options. Offer something for everyone.

Be easy to buy from – Make the purchasing process seamless. For more on this check here. Make sure you have change, receipt pads and Square or Paypal processing ready to go so you can handle debit and credit cards! Keep it organized. It’s a good idea to take inventory before and after the event or use your gallery management software.

Clean your space! – Don’t open the doors and invite people in to your disarray! That is RUDE! Stage your work and make your Clean space for open studiostudio presentable. Offer a demonstration so you can teach people something new. For my opening I had a hands-on project inviting people to nip and place  mosaic tile. I teach workshops in beginning mosaics, so participants were able to determine their level of interest and join a sign up sheet!

Know who’s coming – Have a registry available and encourage visitors to sign it. It’s a good idea to find out why they stopped by. How did they hear about you? Knowing what brought you visitors helps you plan a strategy for getting even more next time.

SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE! – Have signage that clearly directs people to the studio. Start at main arteries and work your way in to your location. You want to be easy to find.

Warm it up – Provide simple, yummy refreshments and consider putting them toward the end of the trail so all your work will be viewed. Let people know they are there. Play appropriate music, greet people warmly. Be available to answer questions or tell the background story of your work. It’s a good idea to have a wingman in case you get crazy busy. This person can greet guests, answer simple questions, process sales or help get additional items you may need. My husband is my wingman and he is awesome. Sweetheart, if you’re reading, you’re awesome!

Take photographs – Chronicle the event. This was a fail-point for me. I didn’t take enough pictures of the activity, although I had photos of the work, the space and some great photos with visitors.

Express gratitude – Thank people for stopping by. Send thank you notes to your collectors after the event. Be grateful for every visitor that stopped by, whether they stayed and purchased work or not. They took THEIR time to see YOUR work. Grateful. 

Evaluate – After the event remember the steps you took. Do you feel successful? What could you have done to improve traffic, sales or the customer experience? Make notes and remember, be patient. It takes time to build a clientele. Next time is another opportunity to do it even better!

I hope my tips are helpful to you. If there’s an activity you do that produces good results, feel free to share it with us in a blog comment.

May you be creative in all endeavors!



Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity teaching them to get out of their own way.

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The Chains of Change

Seasonal change, business change, business cylcesI’m a big fan of summer. Summer offers light, and blooms, and fruit, and warmth and joy. Summer feeds my soul and I am its most avid supporter, but summer’s taking flight. Have you noticed?

Mornings are a little chilly, leaves are twisting off trees and riding light autumn breezes. This is terrifying for me. (click to Tweet)

 I’m not opposed to autumn…no, it is my 3rd favourite season. It’s the winter I abhor. I do not welcome its darkness, its dampness or its frosty pain. Keep your sleepy, naked, muddy winter. I’m not interested. Heck, we had to stick Christmas smack dab in the middle of winter just to rally the frozen troops. Boo for winter.

Ceremony Guru, Cindie Wilding, of Bird’s Nest Ceremonies, recently posted a chipper reminder that fall is on the way. She spoke of the equinox – which is this Sunday. She mentioned fall being a season of balance, reflection and change.  Hmmmm…..

Hang on tight, or bail off this hayride, because I’m about to pull you into the madness of my stream of consciousness. This is how my mind works, and it is especially powerful at red traffic lights…so just be glad I’m not driving.

Seasons are like businesses. There is a natural ebb and flow to the cycle of a business. A time for planting, a time for growing, a time for harvesting and a time for rest and planning. If businesses fail to change and adapt – they die!

There is no fighting the seasons of the year. I can’t stop winter’s chilly forward march. It’s bondage, the “chains of change.” I don’tBusiness cycles, seasonal change have a problem understanding business cycles, so why am I fighting Mother Nature?

Fortunately, if we are skilled, lucky, or both, business seasons move along faster than Mother Nature’s. If you’re fighting your business season, perhaps you’ve misunderstood how to leverage it. As business owners, we create business plans and activities around the seasons of our work. We strategize, prepare, fill the pipeline and sell. In short, we take advantage of the seasons.

Business seasons aren’t always as rhythmic as Mother Nature’s. For instance, you may find yourself in the midst of an autumn harvest without having done your winter planning. Or, if you’re stuck in a perpetual business “winter” chances are pretty good you need some professional help to nudge you on to the rest of “the year.” No worries, you don’t have to despair and lie down or die in the cold…there are good people who can help you. Reaping a thin harvest? Call the people who sell seeds, or fertilizer. Lots of people sell fertilizer, so buyer beware! (click to Tweet) If you’re thriving in an eternal business “summer” please write a book so the rest of us can prosper and spend an eternity in the sun.

 Anyhou, we can’t expect our businesses to always function smoothly. That would be delusional.

So, I’ve decided to fully embrace autumn this year. As her troublesome cousin “Winter” follows on her heels, I may try welcoming her chilly embraces, too. Relating something I can’t control to something I understand and feel comfortable with takes the dread out of summer’s demise. She’ll be back, with her light and growth and song, because Mother Nature will do her job. Just like us business owners – leverage the seasons, follow the plan, watch the Almanac and we’ll be just fine.

A Big, Fat Harvest Moon to You!




Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.


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The Pebble

“You can be walking on the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen and if there’s a pebble in your shoe, that’s all you can think about.”  ~ Jim Hardy

Irritations, change your viewWe all have our pebbles. Small, sharp sticking points that demand our attention. As a friend told me, we can have the most incredible, full lives and we look for the one little thing that is out of place…then we focus on that.

Isn’t that the most inane thing you’ve ever heard? And, don’t you do it? Sometimes? Come on! I’m getting ready to confess, so slide on over in the shriving pew with me (click to Tweet). Yeah, you might need to Google that –  “shriving pew.”

Maybe the pebble is worry, a friend that you had a row with, an disagreeable political climate, or the brown spots on the lawn. Sometimes, there is nothing within your power to change the pebble. The thing you have to change is yourself. That’s my pebble. Usually, if I can take action to rectify something – brown spots – I am more at peace. It’s those pebbles that we can’t change that create the painful limp as we stroll along the beach of life (click to Tweet). This week I’ve found myself focused on my pebble. It gnaws, pokes, irritates me. This is no way to live a well-lived life.  My view is is myopic and, I’ll call it like it is, UNGRATEFUL.

Focusing on the pebble is like slapping good fortune in the face. What insolent children to have such an epic fail in “Gratitude 101.” Do the brown spots or worry suffer at all? Nope. Who suffers? ME. YOU. Not only do we reject good karma, we unwittingly end up punishing ourselves.

I’d like to think I’m smarter than this…but that jury on that is out having a European lunch break – and sipping a nice Chianti, I’m sure. (click to Tweet).

So, how do you let go of the pebble? How do you shift your attention to the stuff that matters. Are we using the pebbles as excuses?

Reframing irritation
Cairns are big pebbles – they mark the path (ironic)

Are they distractions to keep us from stepping fully into our joyful, well-lived lives, doing our best work? Brene Brown talks about waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes, if things are really good, we can’t tolerated it…we wait for the storm to hit.

Not sure who I’d be fooling if I claimed to have the answer. Maybe the answer different for every person. Maybe it’s different for every pebble. Not sure.

This is what I do know. I will focus on gratitude. I will enlist my superior intellect (haha) to focus on not just the beach, but the ocean. Life is full of blessings…I will embrace and be thankful for each one.


I will be more intentionally of service and be more giving. If I focus on others perhaps I’ll forget the pebble all together. In that spirit, I am giving free 45 minute coaching sessions to the first 6 people who contact me via the “Coaching” form on this website. Just send it in, this podiatric patient is there for you! We’ll consider it a sort of penance.

So my prescription is SERVICE, GRATITUDE and A CHANGE OF VIEW. Do you have a pebble and a plan? If so, feel free to share it here, on the blog. I’d love to hear from you.

Until then,

Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my Jimmy Choos,





Special thanks to the late, Jim Hardy whose wisdom has guided me through some challenges. May you rest in peace, Jim.

Art coaching, building your art business, belongingness


Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!


Bowl ‘Em Over

Be easy…when you’re selling your work, don’t hassle your nice collectors. Make it a fabulous experience for them!IMG_6608

Recently, a wonderful artist in my city completed a news worthy project, “1000 Bowls to Feed the Hungry.” This artist, Chris Thompson, threw over 1,000 pottery bowls and invited the art community to help glaze them. Lots of artists were involved in helping create these incredible bowls. Chris spent many months organizing the affair, promoting it, getting the bowls into local galleries. At the end of the day, proceeds from these 1,000 bowls went to fund 3 local food banks and multiplied each dollar spent to feed the hungry. It was a wonderful project.

First I attended Chris’ display of ALL of the bowls. Well, of course, I couldn’t walk out without a bowl. I chose a big, beautiful, earthy one. It wasn’t easy to choose, but it sure was easy to buy.  There were so many unique and colourful designs and shapes. It was such a blast I thought everyone should have one so I promoted the event to friends.

My awesome friends  bought bowls. They told me they hunted through galleries to find the perfect match. Some friends asked me to buy bowls for them. I happily obliged. I perused the local galleries, and carefully sought out  bowls I felt befitting of the future owner. As I embarked on my mission, I couldn’t help but find additional bowls for myself. I became a collector!  At the next to the last gallery, I selected a spirited little bowl, took my card to the counter and was told I had to pay in cash (audible gasp!). This was a full service art gallery….or so I thought. They asked me to go find an ATM, there was one about ¾ of a mile away, the man thought.  Could I write a check?  I’m sorry, I don’t even use checks, unless someone pays me with one. What??? They didn’t have the ability to run credit or debit cards. The man behind the counter didn’t seem the least bit bothered that he had boldly asked me to inconvenience myself. I could take it or leave it.

Notice, this was the NEXT TO THE LAST gallery. Because, why buy from a place that makes it so inconvenient to buy you wish you’d gone elsewhere?

Are you “easy to buy from”? Are you equipped to take various forms of payment? Have change? Ship well? Follow up? Will you take commissions? Do you send thank you notes?

Square and Paypal both provide easy credit processing options that work well with mobile devices like tablets and phones. Let your exchange be a seamless delight for your collectors.  Wrap it up or ship it, provide a receipt, express some sincere gratitude and follow up. You’re success factor will get a boost because:

 The first rule of selling is….”BE EASY TO BUY FROM!”

Wrapped ArtJust a little something to think about as many artists move into open studio and the holiday season and are working so hard to create incredible art. As you’re putting all that effort into the final product, remember, whether you intend for it to be or not, the customer experience is part of your product (click to Tweet). Don’t be a bold inconvenience, be easy. After all, you probably don’t want to be collecting your art for yourself!

Bowl ‘Em Over!




Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost theirBe Easy to Buy From by Creating a Seamless Sales Experience productivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!