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GO is a
community-curated open studio project.

Showing posts tagged tips
Aug 13

Expert tips for open studio weekend

We’re psyched that artists from all across the borough are participating in GO—including some who are open studio veterans and others who are opening their studio doors for the first time. 

As of today, artists have 26 days to get ready for open studio weekend by inviting friends and neighbors and getting their studios in tip-top shape. To make sure that you have the most rewarding possible weekend, we’ve invited experts from organizations and open studio tours across the city to provide advice for artists of all levels, from old hands to open studio newbies. 

Stay tuned for the first set of tips from Natalia Nakazawa, Program Manager at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. The series starts tomorrow.

Aug 14

Top 5 tips from Natalia Nakazawa, Program Manager, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts

We’re launching our series of tips for open studio weekend with five suggestions from Natalia Nakazawa.

Natalia is the Program Manager of the Studio Program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. The EFA Studio Program was created to provide affordable studio space within a community of artists, facilitate career development, and promote public and critical exposure for artists. Outside of EFA, Natalia is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator. 

Top 5 tips for open studio weekend

1. Don’t be late. This seems simple enough, however, coordinating everything that needs to be done in the morning can be daunting. So, try to make sure that your studio is set up the night before.

2. Be prepared with talking points and questions. Open studio weekend is a great place to talk about works of art in progress. Have some ideas that you want to share with visitors and take advantage of hearing some fresh perspectives on your work.

3. Have refreshments. Everyone gets tired and cranky without some snacks and water. You do not need to buy anything fancy, but some bottled water and mixed nuts will be great.

4. Get a good night’s sleep. Be excited. You are going to have an amazing day - but not if you are severely sleep deprived!

5. Don’t forget your business cards! So, you just had a wonderful conversation with an amazing art professional. Now what? Keep your postcards, and business cards in an accessible location right by the door. That way people will have your information and can leave their info too (Use a sign in sheet). 

The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts open studio map from their 2011 open studio event. Photo credit: Matthew Vicari. 

Aug 15

Top 5 tips from Ellie Balk, Organizer, SONYA Studio Stroll

Ellie Balk is a board member at South of the Navy Yard Artists, which wrapped up its 13th annual SONYA Studio Stroll in June—featuring 16 community partners, 43 locations, 53 artists, and a prelude exhibition.

Top 5 tips for open studio weekend

1. Invite your friends! Having other people in the studio creates a good vibe and is less intimidating to people who don’t know you or your work.

2. Be prepared to talk about your work and answer questions. If possible set up a slide show of projects or work that is not in the studio.

3. Have some snacks. People will stay longer and become more invested in the work if you give them something to nibble on.

4. Organize your space for presenting your while keeping the process visible. The benefit of visiting a studio is that the participant can get an inside view of your process. It’s not a gallery, it’s a working space. Show some work in progress…it’s a great chance to get some feedback on your work! 

5. Get the word out to your network.Make a flyer or postcard to hang at local businesses and send an email to your lists.

Aug 16

Top 5 Tips from Richard Mazda, Founding Executive Director, Long Island City Arts Open

Today’s tips come from an open studio organizer who works outside the borough of Brooklyn. Richard Mazda is the Founding Executive Director of the LIC Arts Open - Queens’ largest multi-disciplinary arts festival. He is also the owner/Artistic Director of the award winning Secret Theatre complex in LIC. Richard has had a successful producing/songwriting career, including multiple hit records and an ASCAP award.

Top 5 tips for open studio weekend

1. Greet every visitor and invite them to ask questions. They may not realize you are open to that - its far more likely to result in a sale or a new ‘fan’ if you make them welcome.

2. Prepare your individual publicity at least four weeks in advance. Do not rely on the organization to drive spectators to your spot.

3. If you have participated in open studio events before, make sure you have new work and let your supporters and friends know that there are fresh works to see.

4. If you are in a building with other studios, consider holding a group reception to open the event with music, refreshments etc…everyone likes a free party.

5. Document the event from your perspective: take pictures and photos of your visitors.

6. Get a QR Code and put it on your publicity so that people can find your individual website. Visit http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ to get a free code

7. Use social media. Tweets can reach a lot of people for free. Make a Facebook event.

Aug 20

Top 3 tips from Kari Conte, Program Director, International Studio and Curatorial Program

Today’s open studio weekend tips are from one of my favorite local curators. Kari Conte is the Director of Programs and Exhibitions at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). Each year, ISCP hosts over 100 artists- and curators-in-residence, and approximately 10,000 individuals attend ISCP’s public programs. ISCP hosts open studio programs twice a year. Here are Kari’s open studio weekend tips.

Top 3 open studio tips from Kari Conte

1. Open studios are exciting for the public as they allow the opportunity for direct conversation with artists about their work and process. For this reason, its a good idea to show both finished and work-in-progress as this opens up multiple paths for conversations to begin. Just make sure to indicate what is in-progress.

2. Often artists remove the materials of their everyday practice to achieve a white cube presentation. This is not necessary - visitors attend to see artists “in-situ” and don’t really need or expect a perfect gallery space to engage with the work.

3. If you sit in your studio surrounded by your friends and family the whole time (many artists do this during open studios), visitors will be less likely to speak with you about your work. Having a special hour before or after the public hours to meet with friends is a better way to approach the day, as this allows you to be more available to speak with visitors who do not already know you or your work.

Aug 21

Top 4 tips from Melissa Levin, Director of Artist Residencies, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Today’s tips are from Melissa Levin, Director of Artist Residencies at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC is a truly tireless supporter of artists—through grants, workshops, and studio space programs. Their flagship Workspace residency for visual artists is a model for arts organizations across the country, and open studio weekends are an important component of the program. Melissa has worked with LMCC for eight years, and we’re very happy that she’s sharing her knowledge with us today.

Top 4 tips for open studio weekend

1. Test out anything you plan to show at least one week in advance. For example, hang your installation to be certain you are happy with it; Make sure you aren’t going to blow a fuse by plugging in too much equipment the day of; Test sound levels; Make sure your video plays correctly; Etc! Testing at least one week in advance gives you time to tweak and adjust.

2. Be prepared to answer questions from art-goers and non art-goers alike. People might ask you how you made something. Try to anticipate the inquires so you can be happy and comfortable with your responses!

3. Create a memorable take-away like a business card or a postcard - if you use an image, use one that uniquely represents you and your work.

4. Don’t be shy!

Is your studio off the beaten path?

Last week’s artist and voter meetup in Bay Ridge lead to some great ideas for low-density neighborhoods. Here they are as suggested by the artists themselves:

1) Make a walking route of artists studios with landmarks along the way print them out and drop them off at your info point. It will help create cohesion and bridge the gaps between studios in areas where artists are far away from each other. For example here is the Storefront Art Walk map:

2) Find the five artists around you on the GO Map and get in touch with them. Make a space at your studio with their postcards or images of their work. It will encourage visitors and voters to go explore and create a sense of cohesion.

3) Get a friend to lead an organized walk from the info point at a set time. Make a nice big sign for your neighborhood walk and set it up at the info point the Friday before GO begins. Sometimes visitors hesitate to walk into strangers’ homes in low density spots (no one else is doing it!). A little bit of organization can ease that. 

3.5) Organized tours which follow your print out are great for school groups and sunday classes too! Reach out to them and let them know they can pick up maps and use the info point as a meeting space. 

4) Have a party to celebrate your open studio and encourage your friends and family to go out in groups to neighboring studios. Walking longer distances with a friend is a lot faster and more fun! You can discuss your curatorial decisions on the way between studios.  

5) Make a bike map! Low density areas have great parks and waterfronts. Reach out to artists in other low density areas, for example a bike path from Bay Ridge> Rockaway Beach and link up in groups of 5 or more studios that way.

6) Use social media. Create a facebook group or a tumblr for your neighborhood. Upload your work and use that to link through from maps and mailers and to display at the info point as an easy link if visitors want to know more.

7) Get in touch with your info point about future events. They are often centers of culture in their own right and are happy to host more events in the future. (The Owl’s Head in particular is making plans for the next Storefront Art Walk).

Aug 22

Tips from Chloe Bass, former lead organizer, Arts in Bushwick

Today’s open studio tips are brought to you by Chloë Bass, one of the awe-inspiring organizers who made Bushwick Open Studios a force to be reckoned with. From 2007-11, Chloë served as the co-lead organizer of Arts in Bushwick, the all-volunteer organization that produces Bushwick Open Studios, SITE Fest and BETA Spaces. Chloë is an artist and social practitioner — check out her website to learn more about her work. 

Chloë’s tips are too complex for a simple list, so I present them to you in paragraph form. Read her advice from beginning to end; she’s shared some gems!

Tips for open studio weekend

To me, the most fascinating and rewarding thing about visiting an artist’s studio — as opposed to seeing the same work as part of an exhibition, or in an exhibition space — is getting a sense of the artist’s influences and process. There is nothing quite like seeing work surrounded by the ephemera of the environment in which the work was made. It’s intimate and revealing, and often much more interesting than seeing work “cleanly” on its own. Take advantage of the fact that you’re being asked to open your studio — your work space — and showcase the work in the space as such. Don’t sterilize too much. Don’t turn your studio into a gallery for the weekend. Let people get a sense not only of your work, but of the way you make it. Let people get a sense of you.

Also, keep in mind that there’s no audience like your own audience. GO may well attract strangers to your work space, but make sure to invite your friends and followers. Interested in making sure someone specific sees your work in this context? Write to that person directly. Don’t assume that just because this is a big event with heavy promotion that people will “just come.” A huge part of being an artist is taking professional responsibility for your own promotion. Just as you make decisions about the work you create, make decisions about the type of audience you would most like to see that work — and then go out and find them and make sure they really do see it. Everything has a best context and way of being viewed. If you specify yours, your work is much more likely to be well received.

You’re probably not going to win. I’m not saying this to be negative, or in judgement of your work. Just remember, in contrast to The Hunger Games, that the odds are never in your favor. It doesn’t matter. Use GO to your advantage to learn about public presentation and the best viewing context for your work. This is a creative exercise.

Good luck!

Aug 23

Top 10 tips from Janusz Jaworski, Programming Director, chashama

Janusz Jaworski has years of experience as the Programming Director at chashama—and he sent us an epic list of open studio tips to prove it. 

Top 10 tips for open studio weekend

1. Clean your studio, but don’t put away all the projects you’re working on.  It’s an open STUDIO, not a gallery. People want to see works in process.

2. Open studio weekend is “work” time, not play time. When no one is around, work on something, so that when someone stops by they catch a glimpse of you working before you greet them (hanging around chatting with friends is not recommended). 

3. Make cards or flyers with your contact information printed on them. Put them in a visible place so someone can pick one up without asking for it.

4. Have have a sturdy chair or two for people to sit on.

5. If you’re nervous about talking with people, invite a sociable friend who knows you and your work to help you out.

6. If it’s raining, designate a spot where people can put their wet things so that they don’t ruin your artwork. Have a clean towel or paper towels for people to dry their hands before they start touching your work.

7. If your studio is in your apartment, let all your neighbors know about the open studios—perhaps invite them to a “preview” party the night before. Ply them with treats, as it can be annoying to have your apartment building overrun with strangers.

8. Post signs in your building with arrows from one line of sight to the next.

9. If you have pets, put them in another room and clean the “open studio” room throughly. Consider posting a note on the door to alert people with allergies.

10. Having tap water available is much better than having bad wine.

Aug 28

Tips for Voters

I’ve been following the tips for GO artists and I thought it was about time we have just such a list of tips for the voters. 

If you are headed to the open studio weekend, here are some things to think about…

Have fun. Make these visits a time to hang out with friends or do something that involves walking outside before fall comes into full swing. Take breaks for coffee and enjoy the sun. Go after brunch or make a day of it, but enjoy yourself.  

Ask a question.  Start with one question and see where the answer takes you. A few good opening questions are “how did you make this?”, “this is so beautiful/interesting/rad, can you tell me more about it?”, and “are you from Brooklyn?” Questions don’t always have to be about the artwork. The answers may surprise you, and can actually change how you feel about a piece.

Take your time. Talking is good, questions are good, but so is just looking. Walk slowly; look for at least 15 seconds at a single artwork; look closely at it; return to it; sit with it. You’ll notice things you didn’t in the first 5 seconds and it will be a completely different experience.

Don’t judge (too quickly). Visit a few studios and consider them as a group. You might be surprised by what sticks with you.  This is one reason the nomination period for artists begins after the open studio weekend has ended.

It’s ok not to like something. Sometimes, in the end, you just don’t vibe with the work. Artists who make art for a living will not be crushed if you don’t like their work. You don’t even have to say anything, just smile nicely and walk out. You’ll notice people do this all the time at open studios.

Low tech is just fine. You don’t need a mobile device to visit studios. If you want a low-tech weekend, grab a map booklet and start your journey. You can always write down artists’ numbers and enter them on the website when you get home. If you don’t want to vote at all, just visiting is great. The important thing is going and experiencing the work and the people.

If an artist’s work strikes you, join the list. Take a card or join his/her mailing list, so you can find out more about the work and see them again down the line at another open studio or show they may be having.

Be respectful.  Being invited into an artist’s work space is like being invited into their house. Ask before you snap a picture, ask before you touch their work. Basically, when in doubt, ask. 

If you make one one stellar discovery during the weekend, that’s a success. You don’t need to visit all 1800 to find someone whose work you adore; you may not even need to leave your neighborhood.