Top Tips for a Successful Open Studio

Is an open studio your next successful art event?



Melinda Cootsona is a recognized authority in staging a successful Open Studio. Over the last 11 years she has hosted over 15 Open Studios, routinely grossing as much as $20,000.  Her book  Open Your Studio: Nine Steps to A Successful Art Event has been a #1 bestseller on Amazon. She shares information and insights about hosting these events.

Open Studios are a wonderful way to begin and augment your artistic career. For those of you who are thinking of participating but are uncertain, let me encourage you to do so. Open Studios can be a very rewarding event and a great transition to becoming a “professional’ or full-time artist.

Here are a few helpful hints for both new and experienced Open Studio participants including the top two mistakes that I see many artists make. Let’s start by getting the mistakes out of the way:

#1 Mistake at Open Studio Events: Inconsistent and/or Inappropriate Pricing

Let’s face it: most artists hate putting a price on their work. Emotionally it feels like taking a loved one and turning them into a product. But in order to actually sell our work, it’s a step we must take. Getting the right price for your art is a big key to your sales, so take a deep breath and begin to look at your work objectively.

Too often artists either overprice, or surprisingly, underprice their work. And very frequently their pricing is inconsistent. Paintings (for example) of similar size and subject can vary by hundreds of dollars, which will completely confuse a potential buyer. Typically this discrepancy is because the artist has priced their work emotionally instead of objectively.

The easiest way to objectively price two-dimensional work is by size. This step is clearly and simply outlined in my book, Open Your Studio – Nine Steps to a Successful Art Event. Options for other mediums are also included, but the most important concept for everyone to remember is to price your work appropriately and consistently.

#2 Mistake at Open Studio Events: Lack of Artist Interaction With The Public

I know, I know, we paint, throw clay, bead, weld, design, draw, glue, and shoot film; if we wanted to use words to describe what we do we’d be writers! Unfortunately, in most circumstances, art does not sell itself. In my seminars I have found that many artists are shy about speaking with the public. If you have similar feelings, you are not alone. However, now IS the time to talk about what you do.

Very often the best “sales pitch” is to simply talk about your work and inform the potential buyer about some part of your process. The important concept here is to engage with your visitors. Find a story or technical aspect of your work to share that you can comfortably discuss. Stories sell art. You may even consider posting a story next to your work about why or how you created it. Consider having friends or relatives on hand who can also help you communicate with your visitors.

Create Simple Dynamic Displays

Just like a good gallery or retail store, your work should be attractively and professionally displayed. This can be done with very little expense on your part. Here are three ideas for simple displays:


Hollow-Core Door Screen

Hollow-Core Door Screen


Three (or more) hollow-core doors hinged together to form a “zig-zag” double-sided wall or screen. This is the best most flexible display for two-dimensional work that I have found, and can be assembled from items found at any lumber store. The doors can be painted any color and re-used for years to come.


Multi-Leveled Table Displays

Multi-Level Table Displays


For three-dimensional work consider using tables with various height boxes on top. Cover the boxes with black or white cloths and display your pieces on each of the different levels.


Table Top Easels

Table Top Easels


Small paintings on small easels are a great sales tool for clients who say they have “run out of wall space”. Let them know there are other ways of displaying art than hanging it on the wall.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about hosting your best Open Studios yet.  My goal is to take the mystery out of the Open Studios process and to help each artist attract the most visitors, boost their sales, and host their best event to date.


  • Always paint and create from the heart
  • Create what you want to create and what speaks to you.
  • People will see the passion in your work.
  • Have a fabulous and successful Open Studio!



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  1. Melinda knows what she is talking about and creates advice, that if you follow, you will increase your success.
    Happy Sales!

  2. Wonderful tips, art images and photos.

  3. Thanks for that info. I paint from home, so how do I lure the people to come? It sounds as if the artists work in a communal studio complex and the whole place is on Open Studio.

  4. Thank you for your insight. I am doing an Open Studio with one other artist. The lower half of my house is my studio. Although I have done many art shows, I find that this event will be very personal. Thank you for the organizational tips. I will be using your idea of demonstrating the stages I go through to create a painting. This is a question I have been asked frequently at shows. As I write this I think I’ll photograph the stages and add them as a page on my website. Thank you for your great blog.

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