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What I've Learned From Open Studios


After eating all the food and drink, my friends
kindly watched my new film...
Last weekend I took part in my third open studio in the building that I moved into in February. The building, an old factory next to the railway tracks on the northside of Chicago, has about thirty studios, used mostly by painters and sculptors, plus a few people (like me) who use different media. My new studio is the biggest I've had since I closed my London studio in 2002 and it's also the first time I've been working in close contact with or proximity to other artists since 2004. For the last two open studios, I showed older work, hoping to sell it to make space for newer work. Last weekend, I premiered a short film that I've been working on for most of this year.

After all this contact with the public and other artists this year, here are some things that I've learned:

  • Collectors with deep pockets, gallerists, and curators don't go to open studios.
  •  People who go to open studios want to spend as little as possible, maybe a couple of hundred dollars at the most.
  •  If you want to sell work at an open studio, you have a big advantage if it's painting, and the paintings use warm colours.
  • Even if you sell very little or nothing at all (cough cough), it's still good to have people walk through your studio, respond positively to your work, talk to your peers in the local art community, etc.

Will I take part in the next open studio, scheduled for spring 2014? Probably not, unless I've made some sellable paintings or ceramics by then. But I'll definitely attend, and spend more time looking a the work that my fellow artists are doing.

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