If you are one of the many artists, designers or makers opening their studio this year, make the most of it and get some business advice.

Cotswold Open Studios: Hidden Treasures 2013

Cotswold Open Studios: Hidden Treasures 2013

Use the event to promote your work

Set up a mailing list and a newsgroup and contact everyone you know, inviting them to your event. The most successful Open Studios are the ones that promote their own individual event. Write a piece for your local village newsletter. You could provide a one-off incentive like a special discount for that day, as well as pre-booked demonstrations and talks about your work. Refreshments (private view style) in the garden work well if you have the resources.


There is no need to spend loads of money on framing - it is a huge outlay. You can have a few pieces framed as examples if you don't have the funds. Prints and drawings can be hung on bulldog clips.


You should be given signs. These are to put up on the approach roads and at your venue. Access to venues varies. If you do not think that this is enough, take the initiative and get more done yourself. You could also buy some bright ribbons or bunting to put up at the gate to attract attention.

The exhibition itself

The exhibition needs to be up to view the night before you open please don't leave things to the last minute. Show the work at its best, with clear backup information (e.g. CVs, statements, press cuttings file and articles on you and your work) and clear labelling.

Invigilating your show

Make sure that you are there with the work all the time, 9.30am-5pm. If you have to pop out, arrange for cover.

Pricing and product

Have a broad selection that covers different price points, e.g. some little cards, small drawings, prints and then canvases if you are an artist. This creates something to suit every pocket.

Price everything very clearly sometimes potential customers do not like to ask how much things are. If you have smaller items like cards, put up a little sign with an honesty box so that people can pay without interrupting you if you are talking to people.

Managing cash

Make sure that you have a float in a tin to give change to customers.

Business cards/post cards

Always leave contact details at the side so that people can contact you at a later date.

Talk to people

Events like this are billed as a chance for the public to meet the artists, designers and makers and talk to them about their work. You will make sales if you talk to people about the work and the processes involved.

Pricing and offering a deal

Always set prices at what they would be in a gallery/retail outlet, especially if you have had a recent show. Keep this retail price consistent if you have them available in more than one place. How would you feel if you had bought a piece of art through a dealer and then saw it for half the price in an open studio exhibition? Do deals on old work, back stock or damaged items that you have had trouble shifting.

Buying in instalments

If a customer is unsure about such a huge outlay or cannot afford to buy a work that they really love, why not say that they are welcome to buy in instalments? For example, a large canvass costs 2,000. Let your customer put the painting on their wall and then they can pay for this @ 166.67 per month over 1 year, or 83.33 per month over 2 years or even 55.56 per month over 3 years interest free. Just give them your bank details and keep a record of payments.

If the client is unsure about whether it would look right in the room

Offer to take the work to their home and they can 'try before they buy' for a month.

Painting rental

There is huge potential to rent your work as art for offices, hotels, hospitals and public spaces. The advantage to the company renting the work is that they do not have a huge outlay and they can change the displays year after year, thus creating a vibrant environment for employees.

Mailing lists

When you get new visitors through the door, always take their name, address, email and telephone number so that you can invite them to future exhibitions. Every contact should be valued. You could use a visitor's book for this, inviting feedback. The event organisers should be collecting emails so that they can promote the next open studios event.

Good luck with your open studio I hope you meet some lovely people.

Tessa Webb