Pre-holiday time is a wonderful opportunity to hold an art event. First of all, we all know that art makes wonderful gifts. Plus, if you live in a cold winter climate zone, art will add warmth to living and working spaces for your potential art buyers.
Whether your occasion is a grand opening reception for a one-person exhibition or a more casual open studio, you can create successful art events with some imagination, a shoestring budget and a focus on the right priorities.
I have organized hundreds of art events that ranged from informal soirees to large televised celebrity and charity galas. I’m delighted to offer ideas that have worked for me and my clients. I hope they help make your next art event a memorable experience for your guests and generate financial rewards for you.
Be A Hospitable Host
Make sure your guests enjoy themselves, feel a sense of inclusion, and get much more than they expected. A good host is adept at smiling, circulating and tries to never allow any of their guests to sit or stand alone. For medium to large events, consider using name tags, chairs arranged in small groupings, and comfortable traffic flow. Avoid stress and intimidation by asking gregarious friends to share the co-hosting and sales responsibilities.
Offer Art in Different Price Ranges.
When giving advice on selling art, I use the “rule of thirds” – low, medium and high prices. Art events should have plenty of affordable works of art under $500. Known as “cash and carry” pieces, they don’t require much thought for the buyer. Your goals should be for every guest to purchase either a low-ticket item or place a deposit on a higher-priced work of art. One artist I coach has successful monthly open studio events where she offers artwork beginning with small 10-inch-by-10-inch paintings and ending with large paintings that are delivered to the buyer the following day.
Be Prepared for Sales
Download an app to your iPhone or tablet that accepts credit card payments. There are several to choose from, including Square Up https://squareup.com/reader that enables you to process Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Also have plenty of order forms, receipts, packing/wrapping paper, bags, boxes and packing tape close at hand for easy wrapping for customers to take away their purchases. Delegate the packaging task to someone ahead of time.
Create a Promotional Area
Arrange an area on the wall or table where you will display your promotional items that will encourage sales. They will be your framed awards and an enlargement of your biography/resume, plus reviews you received in magazines or online publications. This table will also be a good place to provide your promotional brochures, postcards or fliers your guests can take home. And, don’t forget to have laminated copies of your price list available throughout the space and on the wall.
You can organize a small event with less advance time; however, you will need several months to prepare a major event. Before you choose your date, check the social events calendar in your area in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. Create a timeline with firm deadlines. Give yourself more time than you think you will need. In addition to the art marketing and promotional plans, don’t neglect the physical space: Declutter and clean up the space, if necessary.
Don’t Do it Alone
Reduce stress by recruiting several reliable volunteers or paid assistants and give them specific tasks to match their skills. Check in with event helpers regularly and plan a pre-event meeting with them a few days ahead to ensure everything is going smoothly. This will ensure confidence and peace of mind. Then, relax and anticipate a fun-filled and rewarding event.
Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their highest potential in private consultations, coaching sessions, and e-Docs. You can read dozens of her art marketing articles on Renee-Phillips.com. As founder/director of Manhattan Arts International, she promotes artists through curated art programs and exhibitions. She is also founder/editor of The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS.