Elevate Your Art Career with Studio Visits and Open Studios

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Artists—don’t wait to be discovered! Studio visits and open studios are essential for more than just showcasing your work—they’re about building connections, gathering feedback, and creating opportunities.

If you’re making art, you have something to say and want to communicate with others. It’s time to overcome shyness, fear, and procrastination. For a sustainable art career, you must prioritise studio visits, both in-person and online. Don’t wait for your work to be perfect or to feel completely articulate.

Location is not a barrier. Successful artists regularly make a habit of discussing their work with others. Start engaging with your audience today and watch your career flourish.

Aims of Studio Visits:

  • To educate, share, and invite feedback on your work
  • Gain fresh perspectives and establish positive relationships
  • Provide insights into your ideas and processes
  • Build new networks and create opportunities
  • Seek constructive criticism

Embrace feedback to grow as an artist. Avoid the echo chamber of working alone by actively seeking opinions and engaging in meaningful conversations.

How Many Studio Visits Should You Aim For?

Balancing studio visits with your creative process is crucial. Aim for a consistent number of studio visits to expand your network, but be mindful of busy periods when you need solitude for creating. Set realistic monthly and annual targets, such as one visit per month or 15 visits per year.

When is the Best Time to Invite People to Your Studio?

The ideal stage depends on your audience:

Established Artists: Invite them during early stages for valuable feedback.

Collectors and Patrons Groups: Showcase fresh, hot-off-the-press works to give them exclusive first insights and opportunities to buy, alongside exhibition-ready or sale-ready pieces to help them visualise owning your art.

Curators: They enjoy seeing work in progress and discussing display methodologies.

Gallerists: Prefer to see a substantial collection of current and past works, showcasing the consistency of your artistic exploration and dedication to your practice.

Press and Academics: They might appreciate seeing resource materials, initial concepts, and finished pieces to understand your artistic journey.

Connecting with Your Ideal Audience for Studio Visits & Open Studios

Identify Your Ideal Connection: Who are they? Define whether you want to connect with artists, curators, collectors, writers, patrons groups, press etc.

Where do they hang out? Identify their preferred online and offline spaces.

What evidence is there that they are right for you? Are there key themes in your work that might suggest certain groups of people, for example if you are interested in feminist politics then women entrepreneurs might be a good group to target.

Look beyond the art world: People in your community can provide valuable feedback on your ideas and may connect you with potential buyers or exhibitors. Consider reaching out to doctors, lawyers, architects, musicians, and business owners. If you’re interested in climate justice, connect with business or charity groups with patrons or VIPs. Hosting a special studio event with them could prove beneficial.

Ask for Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, peers and colleagues familiar with your work.

Research and Study: Review CVs of peers: understand the career paths and networks of similar artists.

Study their work: Analyse their style, themes, and key achievements.

Analyse their network: Identify their professional connections with curators, commissioners, gallerists, writers, press, residency hosts.

Identify common interests: Find themes that resonate with both you and the potential connections you want to invite into the studio.

Select relevant examples of your work: Choose pieces that align with your potential studio visitors interests.

By strategically identifying and connecting with your ideal audience, you can enhance your studio visits and open studios, fostering relationships that support and advance your artistic career.

Research and Prepare for Your Artist Studio Visit or Open Studio

Research Your Guests: Understand their work, interests, and achievements.

Send a Bespoke Invitation: Explain why you admire their work. Highlight specific new works or processes you’d like to invite them into the studio to discuss. Offer to meet in person or online at their convenience. If you’re sending an email, include an engaging shot of you in your studio next to one of your new works, so they can see the scale of ambition in the work and know what to expect.

Make a Short Video Invitation: This is for those of you brave enough to try something new! Personalise your video invite by saying hello, expressing your interest in their work, why you love what they do and how much you would value meeting them and inviting their reflections on your work. Keep it short and sweet.

Preparing to Meet

Establish Key Aims: Define what you want to achieve from the visit. Identify key works, themes, ideas you’d like to share, discuss, explore.

Confirm Time Allocation: Ideally, plan for 1-1.5 hours.

Send Useful Info in Advance: Provide links, documents, and any necessary details.

Prepare Your Studio: Display exhibition-ready works, works in progress and source materials, references or objects that help unpack the conceptual and material development of the work.

Have a clean seat for your visitor, and enough toilet roll(!), napkins, tissues, eliminate distractions and have snacks ready!

For online studio visits, set up your backdrop with one or two new works to spark immediate conversation. Additionally, ensure you have a folder of selected images on your desktop, including titles, dates, medium, and size. Prepare a PDF overview of your top current and past works in chronological order for quick reference during the visit or to send afterward.

In both cases less is more.

Connect & Build Trust

Be Curious and Reflect Enthusiasm: Share why you admire your visitors’ work and how it connects with yours.

Share Anecdotal Insights: Provide background stories and details about your work.

Take Notes: Discreetly gather feedback during the visit to enhance your understanding of them and deepen the relationship in future.

Explore Their Interests: Understand which works resonate with them, their passions, and their current research areas. Inquire about who they aim to engage and their strategies for attracting diverse audiences.

Is It Acceptable to Sell Artwork from Your Studio?

Absolutely! If you don’t have gallery representation, studio visits provide an excellent opportunity to connect with potential buyers and collectors. You don’t need to employ hard-selling tactics; simply share your enthusiasm for the work. Dive into the research behind it, explain your choice of medium, colours, and surfaces, and discuss the process and execution involved, including the time and methodologies utilised.

Prepare for Sales: Have a price list, packaging, and certificates of authenticity ready.

Less is More: When it comes to sales, quality beats quantity. Instead of showcasing every piece you’ve ever made, focus on presenting only your best works. Conduct a thorough edit of what’s displayed on the walls, in the plan chest, on the table, or leaning against the wall. By featuring only brilliant work, you’ll leave a lasting impression, even if a purchase isn’t made immediately. Remember, too many choices can overwhelm buyers, making it harder for them to make a decision.

Conclude Positively: Summarise the discussion and express your interest in maintaining the connection.

End the session with positive comments & reflections such as:

“This has been really interesting/inspiring..”

“You’ve given me much to think about..”

“I’d love to continue our dialogue..”

“I’d love to send you…”

Ask them if they’d like to receive invitations and updates in future – email, newsletter etc.

Maintain Relationships

Follow Up: Send a thank-you email with any relevant images, documents, or links.

Keep in Touch: Invite them to future events and update them on new works.

Write Up Notes: Document feedback and plan follow-up actions.

Set Reminders: Schedule future follow-ups and send catalogues or invites.

What makes an artist studio visit enjoyable?


“I would say it’s great when a studio visitor explains what their intentions are before they visit. So if they are researching for a show or just trying to get to know new artists work better. Also maybe even to suggest themes or points of interest before the studio visit as that can dictate what you present. I think when you don’t know what might be of interest it’s difficult to not want to show more than what is needed. What I find enjoyable is when you find common ground and feel confident that there has been a better connection or understanding between the visitor and your work as a result of the visit.”
Hannah Perry, artist

“If someone requests a visit and it’s either an established relationship with a commissioner or a collector, or is a relationship I’d like to establish, I try to give them something to take away. A catalogue or small token piece. Just something to leave with and remember the visit – and to feel invested in. Helps when they bring cake.”
Jamie Holman, artist

“If it’s a workshop/studio have something the visitors can interact with or make. Not too complex though.”
Roger Grech, Bookbinder

“I love it when people share why they’re attracted to the work, to hear about what they’re interested in, and to share ideas of what shape our collaboration could take.”
Jonny Briggs, artist

“..too many visits from curators are just fishing and not researched enough, but artists should not be afraid of asking these questions either.”
Alan Phelan, artist

“Always bring a gift!”
Pavel Pyś, Curator of Visual Arts, Walker Art Center

“I like feeling prepared so it’s good to have an idea of what the context is… I also like choosing carefully what I wanna show, so context really helps for that, especially as someone who works in lots of mediums. I am obvs gonna Google my visitor and tailor it that way too. I usually start with current work and it really helps to be surrounded by books/cues/working out. Also like having an idea of length. Used to love getting my biscuits on..if there are good reciprocal vibes then I will offer printed matter to take away.”
Emily Speed, artist

What makes a studio visit awkward?

“It’s great when an artist that invites me to their studio is actually prepared to show me something, and even better if s/he has already something prepared. My patience runs very low when I am told that there is really nothing to see, or when twenty paintings need to be unpacked first. In that case I am much happier looking at just one or two actual works and at a thoughtful presentation on a computer screen, i.e. not 200 images in 30 minutes. Coffee or tea are always welcome as are some cheap biscuits.”
Axel Lapp, Director of MEWO Kunsthalle

“When the curator gets you to do, you know, the curating.”
Thomas Yeomans, artist

“When the curator wants to see a certain segment of what you do, but doesn’t explain in advance and then you show them whatever you’ve worked on recently, and it’s not what they wanted to see. That’s literally 100% of my studio visits!”
Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau, artist, musician

“Mostly I enjoy the dance of them and they often lead to ongoing relationships. But a pet hate is when the curator is so guarded about why they’ve come or what they’re looking for. It’s patronising and also inefficient.”
Barry Sykes, artist

“Being unprepared, either party!”
Eamonn Maxwell, curator

“When brief polite follow up after the visit is ignored.”
Lizzie Hughes, artist

“Asking for one..the anxiety of one’s rejection; the anxiety of their sense of obligation…I’ve had very few tbh, and none of them enjoyable. The curators seemed to keep their cards close to their chest, as though preventing me from guessing some secret combination, rather than having a discussion about my work. I got nothing from them, except a feeling of desperation.”
Jeremy Millar, artist & curator

“..had one especially terrible studio visit, which was super formal as a way of ensuring parity I think, but was like an interrogation with absolutely zero reaction or feedback – when they left I felt like a dry little husk. The best visitors are part of a conversation and not an interview panel. Don’t turn my studio into some weird hierarchical workplace, thanks.”
Emily Speed, artist

“I actually really enjoy studio visits when there are small groups of people. What I find a bit annoying is the organisation who will have facilitated that visit don’t really engage with me outside of that experience, so it can feel like I am being a bit used and not invested in the long term as an artist/person.”
Nicola Smith, artist


To book an online or in person talk by Ceri Hand on studio visits or a subject of your choice, please get in touch.

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