Las Artes

March 2, 2015

Can Important Art be Found in the Rio Grande Valley Art Walks?


I recently stumbled upon this post that I found extremely interesting because it provides important tips for artists to consider when participating in an art walk or open studio events. The italicized paragraphs below belong to that story. I highly recommend  reading the full post linked below.

During their visits to local art walks and open studios, people are often confronted with studio after studio, exhibition space after exhibition space, artist after artist, artwork after artwork ad infinitum. Some of these people know maybe an artist or two or maybe several more than that; many know hardly anyone or anything, especially first timers, and often have no idea what to expect. At best, they might be handed maps or directories, but these handouts typically mean little or nothing to newcomers who tend to make their decisions at random– like starting with whatever studio is closest to where they park their cars.

I found this very interesting post published in the website. I often wonder if art is actually sold during these events. I’ve known of a couple of important galleries that do not even open siting references to the lack of purchasing power and interest of participants. So what is really going on?  Are these events places to hang out, or are they attracting art collectors and or people looking to purchase a work of art?

I believe there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the arts in the Rio Grande Valley, but for now I think artists will find this list of do’s and don’ts very enlightening. The featured photograph is of a painting by futurist Italian artist Fortunato Depero


* Do what you can to make your space stand out. Catch the attention of passersby with your most striking or imposing works of art. Whether or not you think you can sell them, put them in locations where people can’t help but see them. The point is to slow them down and coax them out of the halls or off the streets and into your studio. Think of your studio like a store in a mall and do what you can do from “show window” or signage or display standpoints to make your space appear as unique, appealing and enticing as possible to anyone passing by.

* Make your guests feel comfortable. Say hello, offer to answer questions, be hospitable, be accessible. If you have problems relating to people, talking about your art or dealing with money issues, have a friend or acquaintance be there to help you. Keep your greetings brief and let people browse at their leisure. Most importantly, make clear that you or an associate is present and available to assist at all times.

* Have at least several works of art clearly displayed in a part of your studio that approximates a gallery setting. These pieces should be professionally lit, separated from one another and not wallowing in clutter. Many people have trouble appreciating or understanding how particular works of art might look in their homes or offices when too many nearby objects are distracting them (including other similar works of art), and they end up getting confused or overstimulated by the sheer volume and complexity of too many visuals. Take a lesson from the art galleries on this one. At the very least, have a place where anyone interested in any single work of art can see and think about it with little or no interference from the immediate surroundings, where they can be “alone” with that art.

* Offer art in a variety of price ranges. An affordably priced initial sale may lead to a larger one later. As previously noted, most people go to open studios to buy modestly priced art or even to find bargains. People who spend thousands of dollars and up tend to know what they want, where to buy it, who to buy it from, and often buy from either established galleries, dealers or artists who they already know. Hardly anyone buys in those price ranges from artists they’ve never met or whose work they’re experiencing for the very first time. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step– corny but true– so do what you can to make that first step as easy as possible for buyers to take.

* Have business cards with adequate contact information, a short statement about your art, your resume, information about your website (including your computer turned on and showing your website) and any other relevant promotional materials available to see or even take. Do whatever you can to keep your name in the minds of your visitors– especially those who may be on the fence about whether or not to buy your art and who might need more time to think about it. Also have a place where people can sign up to be on your email or mailing list.

* Consider all reasonable offers. Suggest payment plans if interested parties seem hesitant to buy. Good procedure with people you don’t know is to either sign an agreement on how the art is to be paid for, or better yet, to hold the art until paid for in full and then personally deliver it. Remember– your number one mission is to make as many sales as possible, so do whatever you can to make that happen.


* Don’t make yourself so inaccessible that no one can comfortably approach you. For example, don’t get lost in long conversations with friends, be totally focused on making art, give brief one- or two-word answers to people’s questions, ignore or refuse to acknowledge the presence of visitors, or show any kind of attitude when talking about your art. Between you and me, I’m endlessly amazed at how many artists can either be difficult to talk to, or even more astoundingly, are nowhere to be seen at these events. Again, if you’re not that great with people, have someone there to help you.

* Don’t hide your most affordably priced art and only show the expensive stuff. That instantly eliminates a huge percentage of potential buyers.

* Don’t jack up your prices for the occasion. If anything, lower them. Putting certain pieces on sale or reducing all regular prices by a set percentage for a limited time are great ways to attract buyers. This is your big chance for significant public exposure, and to meet and sell to people who love art– not only your regular customers, but here’s the biggie– hopefully to first-time buyers who’ll turn into regular customers over time. First time buyers are the best!

* Don’t display your lower priced art in such a way that it looks like crap you’d just as soon throw in the trash. If this is how you present it (or how you present any aspect your creative output), that is exactly what viewers will think of it– and you. Make it perfectly clear that you respect every single work of art you produce, no matter how much or how little it costs.

* Don’t show every art piece of art you’ve ever created. That’s a great way to overload viewers, confuse them, and cheapen the overall impact of your art. You want to look like an art gallery, not a flea market or secondhand store. Offer a carefully selected representative sampling of your work– organized by subject matters, groups, series or by other easily understandable criteria– and show more only when asked.

Now get out there and sell!

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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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