My friend and I went to an artist’s studio recently as part of an open studio tour. I’ve attended a number of these and can share that this artist’s studio stood out–and not for good reasons.
We went to the door, which was around back. There was no sign at the door and no one to greet us. We thought maybe we’d just go in. So we walk in to a living-room area that is stuffed with furniture and large paintings. A table to the left held a plethora of snacks and there was wine and other drinks at a small wet bar. Lovely music was playing over the stereo. But . . . no one was in sight.
We said, “Hello?” The artist came from around the corner wearing a painter’s apron and carrying her brush. She shook our hands, invited us to look around and have some snacks or something to drink, told us everything was downstairs (which ended up being that one room) and then disappeared.
We circled around the room and came to a turn. A quick glance around the corner revealed an intimate niche where a man was sitting at the computer. He didn’t look up. I felt like an invader.
Another corner took me by the artist’s studio, but she had her back to me and was painting away. I didn’t feel like engaging her in conversation. Nothing about the situation enticed me to find out more. All I wanted to do was bug out.
Think About It
1. If you invite people into your studio and you’re not standing by the door, at least have a welcome sign that tells them to knock or come in. Be a good host or hostess!
2. If you plan on continuing your work while your guests are there, tell them! This artist should have said upon meeting us, “As you can see, I’m painting! I’ll be in my studio, which is just around the corner. I’d love for you to come in. I’ll show you what I’m working on.”
3. If your spouse is going to be in the room where your guests are invited to look at your art, teach him or her how to be welcoming.
4. I have no idea whether or not this person had work on exhibit anywhere else. She could have handed us her card and maybe even an invitation to upcoming events. She missed a golden opportunity to make us fans (or, frankly, to even like her a little).
I’ve never felt so unwelcome or awkward in an open studio situation. We left as quietly as we arrived–without saying goodbye.
Open Studio Guidelines (from Society of North American Goldsmiths’ Professional Guidelines)