Artist Entrepreneur: O for Open Studios — The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art by Aletta de Wal

Welcome to Artist Entrepreneur Fridays, where we talk about the fun, wild and scary ride of succeeding as an artist entrepreneur of all stripes and types and mediums.

Welcome back guest columnist, Aletta de Wal. She specializes in helping visual artists succeed in their fine art careers. She posts regularly on “The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art” and other success tips for fine artists on the topic of writing. This week it’s O for Open Studios, tips on crafting your message in preparation for your own Open Studios — essential keys to business and artistic success. Enjoy!

PS. Be sure to check out the new September issue of Author Entrepreneur Magazine, helping authors create successful careers.


Open studios are like pop up galleries. Artists become their own gallery dealers when they invite people directly into the place where they create their art. Aside from a studio cleanup, a dusting-off of displays and set up of ways to accept payment, there is plenty of writing you have to do to market the event.

And before you write, there is some thinking to do.

Use these questions to get started and add your own to create a template for future writing:

  1. Why do you want to show your work? Do you want feedback, to build your mailing list, or exposure to art professionals? Your answer will set the tone for your writing.
  2. Who is your audience? Who do you know who would like to see your work? Why should anyone come? How will you contact people? Your answer will create the message and determine the media for your invitation and follow-up communications.
  3. What will you present? Do you have enough work ready for prime time? Do you have the details of dimensions (Height x width x depth), media and finishing (framing or pedestals.)? Your answers will guide you in selecting content and images for your promotion.
  4. When will you have the exhibit? Are you having a one-time event or multiple days when people can visit the exhibit? What are the hours when the studio will be open? Have you planned a preview for your collectors? Will you do an artist’s talk? Your answers will help you be specific in your announcements.
  5. Where will the event be held and where will you tell people how find you and your work? What is the address? (Include the building name, street address, city, sate, zip/ postal code and telephone number. (Pet peeve disclosure: I work with artists across the country and I travel. Don’t assume that I know where your city is and make me search for the state you live in.) Where does your audience look for updates on you and your art? Your answers will help you decide which communication channels to use, e.g., blog, e-mail, e-vites, flyers, postcards, advertising, media release, social media and street signage.
  6. Who will help you: Are you doing all the work yourself or will you have help? Are you sharing the open studio with other artists? Your answers will help you create checklists for yourself and written agreements for others involved.
  7. How will you present your art? Do you have an artist statement for this body of work? Have you prepared stories for each piece? Do you have a price list? Your answers will help you create handouts and wall displays to help viewers connect with your artistic intentions and make decisions about purchases.

Okay, now you are warmed up! The writing you have before you need not be overwhelming. You can split up the writing tasks into items that you will need before, during and after your Open Studio.

Here is a starter checklist I use when I work with artists who want to upgrade their exhibitions:


What to Write Before During After
Outcomes: What results do you want? How will this event contribute to your visibility? How will this event increase connection with your audience? How will this event help you expand your relationships?
Goals: How will you achieve these outcomes?  Areas to consider:

  • Art
  • Business
  • Marketing
Areas to consider:

  • Display
  • Commerce
  • Engagement
Areas to consider:

  • Inventory
  • Venue
  • Conversion to Purchases
Action Checklists: What actions will you take? Lists to make:

  • Art Selection
  • Studio Preparation
  • Promotion
Lists to make:

  • Additions to Mailing List
  • Payment process
  • Follow Up


Lists to make:

  • Update inventory
  • Update mailing list
  • Follow through on promises made
Promotional Materials: How will you get the word out? Design and create:

  • Surface Mail Invitations
  • Online Posts
  • Posters
Plan, script and post in real time:

  • Photographs
  • Video
  • Social media highlights
Plan, write and send:

  • Thank you notes
  • Blog posts
  • Social media insights
Onsite Materials: What will you do to communicate with people about your art and accomplishments? Design, create and produce:

  • Location Signage
  • Artist Information
  • Art Descriptions
  • Art Prices
  • Sign-up Mailings
  • Contest Entry
Bring promotional materials for take-aways:

  • Postcards
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
Do a post-event assessment. Write notes about what worked and what you want to do differently next time.


You might not do all of these, or have different items on your list. The point of the chart is to get you thinking methodically and to schedule your writing tasks so you can get them done well and on time.

Next time, P for promotional tools.


Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training

Aletta de Wal inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy.

Aletta works with part-time, emerging and full-time visual artists who are serious about a career in fine arts. Aletta makes make art marketing easier and the business of art simpler.

More information at:

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