Thursday, May 16, 2013

Post Mortem of First Open House

Studio mate Carolyn Kimball and I had our first open house last weekend and it was successful! Yay! I'm so happy about our choice to move into Canopy. I love it there and the busy weekend has done nothing but invigorate me. This list may seen pretty boring to most of you, but if you're thinking of holding a similar event some some of these items might be helpful.

  • Carolyn's side looked very professional and well displayed. Mine seemed a little wonky in comparison. My work in progress magnetic strip was in the way and I'm not sure how to handle that going forward. I use it and it might mess up the walls and never hold again if I try to remove it for a show.

    Carolyn's side
My side

  • Marketing materials a must. Several folks picked up the one-card bio and postcard image of Carolyn's work. She had plenty of business cards and I had barely any left from my last gig.
  • Paypal triangle thing worked great for me for accepting credit cards on my mini ipad. I loved it and it was easy to master. Carolyn uses Square and finds it equally as awesome. 
  • A cash box would be helpful for next time--or a big apron with deep pockets. Needing to retrieve my hidden wallet every 2 seconds--inside my purse, stashed under the desk--was inconvenient.
  • Including tax on small items where people usually pay cash is a convenience for all.
  • One artist in the building had her work space hidden with a curtain and that looked very professional. She had spotlights installed and pointed at her work and her studio had a very gallery like quality. Ours looked kinda worked in, but that's OK--we do work there. :)
  • The small bookcase took up valuable wall space so for future open studios, switch it for something longer and shorter so there's room for hanging up top. 

  • Music drew people to our building, plus sign boards with chalkboard paint were great for directing traffic. I appreciated the signs at the bottom of the stairwell directing people to the upstairs studios. 

  • Food and bottled water were good to have on hand. Philosophically I'm against bottled water due to the waste, but really, going simple was key. 
  • $20 and under--great price point. Carolyn sold a bunch of $16 tea towels and I sold a bunch of $10 and $5 Tesla items. The first day I had bigger items sell, but the smaller items were big hits day two. 

    Thumbs up is right on the light switches. Score!

  • Bubble wrap and packaging materials were good to have on hand, but we ended up not needing them. I'm thinking I'd like to offer buyers a small brown handled paper baggie for smaller items. I felt weird handing people their purchases without a bag. 
  • The print bin wasn't looked at as much as it could have been. I think we may need a different location next time. It was wedged in a corner (it's big), and when people did the circuit they were kinda already on their way out and didn't do much bin browsing. 
  • Name signs looked great! We were going to paint them black but ended up leaving them natural wood and I think that was a good decision. They balance out all the black I have on my frames. 

  • MailChimp was a great tool. I sent out my announcement to everyone--not just Austinites, so I could spread the word of the studio. It brought in a lot of friends on my mailing list. I sent the invite out on a Monday night with the event the upcoming Saturday. Possibly a little shy of a week good timing for planning. 
  • Being there with Carolyn at the same time was great. I appreciated not having to lock up during a potty or water break. Plus I noticed a lot of my friends bought tea towels from Carolyn so there's that bonus. (Carolyn, you need to bring in your Tesla-loving friends and assure them they need a puppet.)
  • Collective PR was key to our success. There are a lot of motivated artists at Canopy, and we all capitalized on our collective efforts. 
  • We should be directing people to our mailing list. It wasn't seen by all and maybe we could have encouraged more people to sign up. 

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