Monday, October 20, 2008

Portland Open Studios, the reckoning

OK, so I had my studio open for 2 weekends in a row, as part of Portland Open Studios. The first weekend, 2 artists really nearby were also open—one across the street and the other 2 blocks away. The 2nd weekend, neither was open, and the closest open artist was a few blocks away (still not too bad).

The tally

First weekend: about 75 visitors a day. This is about 50% of the traffic compared to last year (2007), but actually pretty normal compared with all previous years (2004-2006).

Second weekend: about 20-25 visitors a day. You can do the math on that. This is the first time the 'open both weekends' option was available. But since not all artists are open on the west side the 2nd weekend, it really still makes sense for people to organize their visits according to geography. I did have a few people come back for the 2nd weekend, usually bringing another friend that they thought would like to see the books I've been doing with the seniors. Oh yes, on Saturday, I also had the big school bus with 16 high schoolers (this is not included in the 20-25 count).

The Gocco class

I didn't quite fill the 1 gocco class over the 2 weekends. Compared with last year, I filled 3 gocco classes in 1 weekend. The fact that supplies are quickly dwindling is probably a player, but I don't know for sure.

The money

I made the same amount of money as last year (not including classes), but it took me 4 days instead of 2.

The demos

As the days went by, my demo evolved. I've always done the gocco demo, and I've always done a 2 layer souvenir bookmark for people to take away. So my initial thought was that I wanted to do something a little different this year.

I printed out a flyer about Relay Replay Press, and my demo was printing a little decorative thing on the flyer for people to take away. I also talked A LOT about the project with the seniors. At the end of the 1st day, it was pretty clear that it was not the most popular demo I've ever done.

So on the 2nd day, I reverted to the souvenir bookmark, which was definitely more successful. People were more engaged. The Good Prince's input was that the flyer was an ad and so not as much fun for the visitors as the bookmark.

However, it was clear that my paintings just weren't getting any attention from the visitors at all, even though people chose to visit my studio based on the image of a painting in the tour guide.

So on the 3rd day, I brought up my paint brushes (they are very small, which always impresses people), and some tubes and pans of paint. I started by talking a little bit about my painting first before I went into the gocco thing. And what do you know? I sold a painting!

Day 4, a Sunday, always a slower day anyhow, so I brought up actual work that I'm doing, so that I can get something accomplished between visitors/demos. My demo was unchanged from day 3, but perhaps because I was working when I wasn't doing demos, I didn't quite get the detailed questions from visitors as I did on day 3. Not sure if it's related or not, but I sold a lot less stuff on day 4 than on day 3.


It's back to real work today, rather than entertaining visitors. Updated the Portland Open Studios web site to reflect the fact that the event has now passed, and to get ready for bigger changes to come. And I was so good, I sent thank you notes to those who signed my guest list, and I added them to my mailing list. Compare this to previous years, when it took me 3 years (3 YEARS) before I got around to adding them to my mailing list. Credit goes to Laura Russell, whom I interviewed for a blog piece (yet to be written), but wow, she's organized about that. And I got inspired.

1 comment:

gl. said...

wow, quite quiet on that second weekend! i'm glad you chose to print the bookmark again instead of the replay flyer. but i'm most glad you chose to demo a painting: wish i had been there for that!