Thursday, 6 June 2013

Do Open Studio events work for artists?

Open Studios are often a local or county wide trail to enable the public to visit artists in their place of work and thereby experience something of the making process. My first experience was way back in the early nineties when Dorset Art Weeks was becoming more than an initial idea and aimed to promote cultural tourism at a time of year that often had low visitor numbers. In retrospect this way of looking at things no longer sits comfortably with me and is possibly why I now struggle with the open studio concept. However, having yet again cleaned up my studio, ie got rid of all the dead wildlife that's been cluttering up the place since the last event, hung and propped up my work to hopefully be viewed by the thronging hoards coming through the door, borrowed a crate of wine glasses for the ever important private view - which frankly is never ever private -that done, I'm now here waiting for the culturally interested and the art buying public to arrive.
Luckily I've had a number of those my way, but unless you are near a desirable coffee establishment, and/or an idyllic idyll or a cultural hub that attracts constant footfall, you are never going to be inundated - unless of course there is a secondary attraction, but so far that isn’t me.  No I’m yet again stuck – mostly happily – pondering the why and where fourths, alongside the variables of competing with good and/or bad weather, town planning issues (ie I’m in Weymouth and one year they dug up all the roundabouts  the last weekend of DAW – great!), and now the economy. All this – and more - often drives artists away from repeating the experience.
Never-the-less open studios can be worth doing. Those attending my drawing classes get to see my work, I make sales without having to pay commission and I also meet and talk to those viewing my work – getting valuable feedback.  For these reasons and many more open studios are important and helpful in the difficult uphill task of progressing as an artist. But I still feel something is missing after all this time. Maybe a much needed injection of something new. The nineties have long gone – unfortunately – and as always times have changed, and so have our cultural activities.
However, the important brochure is being picked up – slowly - and certain demographics do trot around, but getting different/ new audiences in requires a bit more effort – she said wearily from all the effort already extended!!
So maybe a better idea or just a rethink, possibly even a make-over, but definitely something and not just for the visiting cultural tourist either.


  1. I think you are feeling like most of us who do Open Studios these days.... It is a great concept and splendid way of promoting yourself, but perhaps we are missing something along the way. I cannot think of a better way to promote myself as an artist, in terms of the benefits and rewards. Perhaps we do need to reinvent how we conduct ourselves and how the events are managed.

  2. Hi Bill Thank you for the feedback. I think its quite evident that there is alot of unchanneled frustration at the moment, which really needs to be employed creatively.