Thursday, 22 March 2012

Marketing Your Event


Following on from my last blog post, Opening Your Studio to the Public, this post looks at ways to market your Open Studios Event.


If you are taking part in a wider Open Studios Event then most of your marketing will have been done for you. You will be featured in their brochure with information about your studio and where to find you. And, if you are lucky, yours might be the featured artwork for their flyer. All this information should be on their website too with links to your website and a short profile about you. To see an example of this go to York Open Studios


BUT you will not be the only artist that the event organisers are promoting so if you want to drive more visitors to your studio door you can tempt them in with a marketing campaign of your own. 


North Yorks Open Studios


What's in it for them?

You may want to offer a little "sweetener" or discount to every person who buys something from you at the event but don't leave it too late to tell them about the offer. If your Open Studio Event has an official flyer or brochure you can attach your own flyer offering a discount or free gift to every visitor - provided they bring the flyer with them.  The discount might be offered on purchases over £50 or £100. Post out or give the flyers out to everyone on your customer database, friends, family and anywhere that you place your paper advertising.


Reaching Wider Audiences
Your event organiser will probably be using Facebook and Twitter to promote the event, updating their blog and even posting in a Linked In group. If you have a Facebook Page make sure that you "like" their page and ask them to "like" yours. Set up a Facebook Event  and invite all your friends, making sure that your avatar image shows you or your art. Post regular updates about the event and add links to the official website.  Check out your event organiser's Twitter, if they are using a hash tag make sure you add it to every tweet you send about the event, this will make yout tweets more prominent.
Electronic marketing is fabulous and costs nothing but time. this type of marketing is possibly more effective than printed information as it can reach a wider audience. If you have a customer email database then setting up an event on Evenbrite and sending out an E-flyer on Mailchimp makes you look highly professional and you can add images too. Evenbrite will send out reminders to your customers a week before the event and even jog their memories a day before the event if they have booked on-line. 


Suffolk Open Studios 2012
Make Yourself Memorable
Even if the visitor didn't make a purchase at your Open Studio Event you will still want to give them the opportunity to keep in touch and find out about your new work in the future. A prominently placed Visitors Book (with a pen) will give the public the opportunity to feed back about your work and studio. If it is accompanied by a sign that says "Do you want to subscribe to our newsletter? Please leave your details" this will remind them to write down their email or postal address. Also, if you haven't started a customer database this may be the time to start one. 
Keep in touch - send a short email or letter thanking them for visiting your studio, or for saying nice things about your work and personally invite them to your next event. But don't overdo it - everyone who signs up to a database has the right to be removed from it too. 


So all that remains is for me to wish you every success at your Open Studios Event. If you found this post helpful or you have anything to add please use the Comments Box. 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Opening Your Studio to the Public

Leah Virsik's Studio
Spring is springing and it's THAT time of year for artists and makers to fling open their studio doors to the public.  Open Studio events are nothing new and, if managed successfully, they are a fantastic way to get the public to see your work, learn more about the work of the professional artist and make some sales too. 


But if you have never opened your studio to visitors before there are some important things you need to consider before you take the plunge. Of course, if you are taking part in an organised event most of the "issues" will be covered by the organisers and they will be there to support you.  Before you sign up for the best event of your life here are some things you will need to consider:
  • What are you hoping to achieve? This could be meeting more artists, promoting your work to new audiences, making sales and/or educating people about your art.
  • How are you going to market this? If you are taking part in an organised event, what marketing will they do and what is your responsibility?
  • What will it cost you to open your studio? Will you be able to recoup these costs through sales?
  • How will you measure success? Will this be through increased visitors, sales or commissions?
About Your Studio
Francis Bacon's Studio
Is your studio easily accessible to the public? if not, you may want to find out if anyone will share their studio space with you for the event. This happens at North Yorkshire Open Studios  where two or three artists with similar or complementary work may show in one place.  Or you could move your "studio" into a room in your house - setting up a display of your work in your living room. 
Your studio is your "story" and how you show this is very much up to you. Many of your visitors will be interested in the life of an artist as well as wanting to see your work so presentation is important. That doesn't mean you have to clean it so that it's sparkling, sterile and sparse. Instead you may want to show off the tools of your trade, have your latest work-in-progress on your bench and greet your visitors in your apron/overalls. This is particularly apt for those of us who work at the kitchen table - leaving your sewing machine out with your latest creation or your lino cutting tools with your most recent lino design shows visitors how you juggle your artistic practice with your domestic life. 


All Things Financial
Opening your studio to the public WILL cost you money - but how much money depends on the following:
  • Inviting the public in without having any public liability insurance is extremely risky. If you are exhibiting as part of an organised event will you come under their umbrella PLI or do they expect you to have your own? If you are in the UK the best value for money PLI is AIR
  • Are you insured against thefts and breakages? does your household or premises insurance cover this?
  • Will you be paying for publicity? Most organised events will ask for a donation toward their marketing costs (they may call this a membership fee) Our next blog post will be about marketing your Open Studio
  • If you make a sale how can the buyer pay you? Try to make this as easy as possible - if you can't afford to share the costs of using a card payment machine then offer to take payments via Paypal or, if you have on-line banking, by BACS. Not so vital if you make fabric corsages but worth considering if you sell sculptures with a minimum price tag of £200.... not everyone carries a cheque book around with them but they always have their credit card in their wallets.
The Facilities
It is really important that visitors know the opening times of your studio in advance. If you are taking part in an organised event make sure that this is stated in the publicity. If you can't do every date and can't be open 9am to 5pm then visitors will be really annoyed if they have travelled 50 miles to find that you are shut. Also, if you have a step up to the studio (or stairs) and no ramp this also has to be made clear. You don't have an obligation to make your studio accessible to all but disabled visitors need to know if they can gain access.


You can offer your visitors a cuppa if you like but you cannot sell home cooked refreshments without the necessary paperwork from your local environmental health department. You will find them on your local authority website. If you do serve refreshments you are obliged to allow visitors to use the "smallest room in the house" or, if you don't have facilities at your studio perhaps an agreement with the pub next door.  

Finally, occasionally things are stolen - it's a fact of life and hopefully it won't happen to you. 99% of visitors are genuine art lovers but be a bit cautious by locking up your valuables if  the public have access to rooms you can't supervise and don't leave your purse/phone out on display. 

Good luck with your Open Studio event - it is a great way of promoting your work and making creative friendships.  Look out for our next blog post on Marketing Your Open Studio Event. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Felt at Central Hall - Naomi Southon



Naomi Southon - Artist's Statement


"Inspired by biological forms, in particular a world hidden from the naked eye, my felt works have been created using traditional wet felting techniques and use rich and vibrant colours. The fine, intricate detail seen through a microscope is emulated in the pieces using hand and machine embroidery in a vast array of glorious threads. Further detail has been added using needle felting and beautiful glass beads embellish the colour and forms within the work".




Naomi's felt work will be at Central Hall, Alice Street, Keighley until Friday 6th April 2012.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Felt at Central Hall - Lucy Bowring


Lucy Bowring - Artist's Statement

The George and Lilly range is designed and created by Lucy Bowring. It consists of a large collection of handmade felt gifts and accessories including decorated purses, felt brooches, baby booties and book covers.  Accompanying these is a variety of special one off felt framed pictures which are completely original in both design and concept.



“ I have always been interested in designing and making textile products and really enjoy selling my items to the public as it’s nice to hear first hand feedback and see people enjoy what I have made. I get the influence for my pictures from stories, nursery rhymes and fairy tales and landscape round me. Ideas for badges, purses, booties and covers come from things around me experimenting with  different techniques and materials.”


Lucy's felt work will be at Central Hall, Alice Street, Keighley until Friday 6th April 2012.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Felt at Central Hall - Clare Ashton



Clare Ashton - Artist's Statement


"I came to feltmaking without planning, but once I had discovered it I have grasped, grappled, embraced and wooed this creative process to discover all its possibilities and all I can create and express through it.
"There is a wonder in the process of making felt as loose fibres fuse and knit themselves together under my hands, becoming a fabric of as many varied shapes and textures as I can imagine. In the past I have build up my images during the half-felt stages, but recently I have begun printing onto the felt and then felting it further before adding more print and repeating.  This process is enabling me to add depth and atmosphere to the artworks as the wool pulls the image into it.  By printing again on top I’m building up a field of focus with the foreground sharp and the background becoming less and less focused.  Only felt swallows and absorbs the print in this way, making each piece unique.
I use British sheep wool in my felt.  This way I can know the story of the wool, where it comes from, the landscape the sheep walked in, the weather it endured.  I also know it did not have to pollute the skys or oceans to reach me". 





"Knowing the source of my materials leads my thinking onto the subject of the images I am then imposing onto it.  To me it calls out to be the plants and animals, landscapes and structures which share the countryside the sheep inhabit.
When all these elements come together my work has integrity.  It has been true to my creativity, my environment, my inspiration, my soul and my creator".  

Clare's printed felt work will be at Central Hall, Alice Street, Keighley until Friday 6th April 2012.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Felted Cloth Update


Exhibition Poster
Our latest Artists in Business exhibition at Central Hall is going really well and we are getting lots of positive feedback. Take a look at the latest pictures below. 








The exhibition is in Cafe Central until 6 April 2012. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

UK HANDMADE MAGAZINE

UKHANDMADE

The best on-line magazine for designer-makers is out now. It's packed with articles, features and inspiration and is a jolly good read! There's even an article by Yours Truly on Approaching Retail. And have you seen those beautiful mosaics by Lindsey Kennedy-Smith?  Check out UKHandmade today - it's free!