This is the second year I've opened my studio up to the visitors and residents of Anglesey. Last year when I did it, I wasn't sure what to expect. I felt very apprehensive about having people in my studio, after all, the studio is an artists haven, it's like inviting someone into your most intimate space.
This year, I did know what to expect and I feel I was a little better prepared. It's still been a very different experience as we do this over the Easter break. This year Easter has fallen earlier and the weather hasn't been as good. For me I've had fewer visitors than last year.
So to prepare for open studios the first thing you need to decide is how much you want to share with people. Last year I wasn't so confident. I'd never explained what I do to people and I honestly had no idea how interesting other people would find my work.
I make sure that I have plenty of my work on show, I choose many different items, some framed work with a higher price point, some more affordable framed work, mounted work and just raw prints too. In addition, I have a good stock of greetings cards and I also include a display of the textiles I make too.
Once that decision has been made, it's time to tidy up the space a bit. Lets face it, even the tidiest artist has a little bit of studio chaos not to mention the spider webs and dead flies. I embrace this opportunity to have a good tidy up, throw out a few things that have accumulated for no apparent reason and clear the decks.
There are a few practical considerations that need to be taken care of too. My studio is my garden. The brochure that is produced for the event gives directions to my home, but I put up signage on the route to make it easier for people to find me. I like to keep a record of who has visited, I tried this year to remember to ask if I could add people to my mailing list, and I also try and keep a record of what people buy and spend. I check my card reader is working and that I've got prices for all the items that are for sale.
My husband always tells me I'm being 'glass half empty' when I say I'm not expecting to have a good day. For me though, if I start with low expectations for the number of people who will visit then any visitors are a bonus. People always do visit and it's always a pleasure to meet new people or even see people who have visited in the past too.
While making a sale is always nice, it's not the only gain you make as an artist. Talking about the work you make to strangers gives you a voice about your work, it helps you to learn how to explain what you do and understand why you enjoy what you do too.
I think you begin to understand what others appreciate about the work that you make. For me, that was a real confidence booster and last year that set me off an a more determined path to make work with more purpose.
If it hadn't been for open studios, I would never have had the confidence to apply for the Royal Society of Marine Artists open exhibition last year, or take on Manchester and Bath Art Fairs.
Today is the final day of Open Studios 2023. I'm a little tongue tied and tripping over my words at this point, but I've enjoyed it very much and I'm already thinking about what I'll do differently for next year.
Now I'm excited to get back to making work again.