Exhibitors Hints & Tips

Here are some notes and suggestions to help make your Open Studio event successful and enjoyable for you.


Key Points

  • Plan your display well in advance and think about insurance
  • Do a risk assessment of your venue and rectify any issues (e.g. loose rugs on floor)
  • Put up your BEAT banner /poster or sign in a visible position outside your venue in good time. Put up clear direction signs if visitors  need to go down a side entrance for example
  • Keep a note of the number of visitors you have and have a Visitors book – a good way to expand your mailing list for future events
  • Try and identify where your visitors have come from  (e.g. within the Borough or from outside) and also how they heard about the event. Keep a record – we may ask you to provide this information if you can!
  • Keep a good float and ensure you get full personal details (address and telephone number) for all cheque payments received (cheque guarantee cards no longer apply so you could ask for some other form of identification e.g a driving licence)
  • Ideally have someone else with you at all times
  • Have everything clearly labeled and priced. It’s a good idea to have any cards or prints you are going to sell wrapped in cellophane bags and individually priced
  • Have plenty of red spots for sold items
  • Have a stock of wrapping material suitable for your items
  • The work you display must be your own and should not include any bought items
  • Please ensure that none of your work is liable to cause offence to any visitors – what is artistic to some may not be to others
  • Remember, visitors may be interested in talking to you about your work, so do make yourself available to do so

Remember: Setting up always takes longer than you think it will, so give yourself plenty of time for those last minute activities.


Greeting Visitors

We suggest that you keep your front door closed, unless your display area is just inside the door. Don’t be tempted to save yourself the bother of opening it to each visitor – it’s not worth the compromise to security. Artists living in communal properties also have to consider the security of other residents.

It’s always a good idea to count visitors in as they arrive (it’s good to know how many visitors you have had and ideally whether they are from Ealing or from outside the Borough) and remind them to sign your Visitors book, giving their name and email contact as a minimum but comments are always useful too. Keep the Visitors book in an obvious place with a pen and don’t forget to ask them to sign it!


Accessibility

Think about how accessible your venue is to everyone. Your entry in the brochure will have asked you to indicate the accessibility of your venue and legally one  should make ‘reasonable adjustment’ to ensure one’s display area and work is as accessible as possible. Obviously if you are on the first floor without a lift or at the bottom of the garden down steps or across a lawn, there is not much you can do as far as wheelchair access is concerned but good layout; good lighting; clear labels and a large print list can make all the difference to a disabled visitor …. and making everyone feel welcome is perhaps the most important.


Safety and Security

It is recommended that there are at least two of you at each venue at all times. This allows you to be available to speak to your visitors but is also important for security reasons. Do not leave visitors alone in your venue.

It is also important to prevent visitors from straying ‘out of bounds’ – put up ‘PRIVATE’ notices where applicable. Most visitors are polite and unthreatening and it is rare to have any trouble. BUT if you do have a suspicious visitor, keep an eye on him/her. As soon as they leave ring your nearest BEAT venues to forewarn them, giving a description and offer any advice that seems appropriate.

Remember: all members of BEAT are entirely responsible for their own security and insurance.

If transactions take place in your own home/premises, then your domestic insurance probably doesn’t give you third party cover, which is what is recommended. If anyone injures themselves whilst in your venue, they could make a claim against you. So try and appraise the place and do an analysis of potential hazards – and rectify them!

The following link takes you through the steps of a full risk assessment, which may be required by your insurers – www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg163.pdf

Insurance cover can be obtained from The Society for All Artists (wall based work only) or through the on-line version of www.a-n.co.uk/air. Cost should be in the region of £35.

Damage to objects or theft is a separate issue and not covered by third party insurance. It makes sense to remove from view any small personal /breakable/valuable items that are not for sale. Also ensure that your items for sale are displayed clearly, safely and securely.


Lighting

Depending on your venue, you may want to augment natural lighting with some spotlights. Secure any cables with gaffer tape to avoid tripping accidents!


Publicity

You will be asked to distribute flyers promoting the event as a condition of your participation in the event. Nearer to the date you will be given a supply of flyers which will have space for you to add the number of your Open Studio or venue. Please ensure that you hand these out or deliver them in your neighbourhood as widely as you can.

Have a supply of studio guides in your venue – you may be the first studio people visit and if they have got their information from the web site, they may not have a guide.

Having business cards or postcards with your details for people to take away is also a good way of publicizing yourself.

Make sure your venue is easily identifiable – put up your a BEAT Open Studio sign, and use posters and bunting etc to mark out your venue at the front and give clear directions as to where visitors need to go to enter your venue.

Have a look at the Ealing BEAT brochure and identify and make yourself known to fellow exhibitors in nearby locations. It is always good to be able to direct visitors to nearby venues and they can do the same for you!


Lists and pricing

Make sure all items are clearly marked with their title, medium and sale price. Some people have individual price tags or labels for each work; others prefer numbers with a separate list. Whichever your preference, make sure the information is clear and legible.

Once a piece has been sold, do “red spot” it – they can be infectious and encourage others to buy!

However, it is up to you whether you allow people to take away sold work straight away or whether you ask them to collect sold work on the last day of the event. It is always nice to show new visitors that you have sold work, but if you have replacement work available you may decide to use a “Sold Board” showing the red-spotted labels of sold items already taken.

Each artist will determine their own price structure but in general it is recommended that you have as wide a price range as possible and provide small as well as larger items. Painters, for example, might include some prints or unframed work in a folder or browser. Cards of your work are always popular too.


Money

Remember to provide yourself with a good float but ensure it is kept securely and out of sight. If you accept payment by cheque, it is best to ensure you get a full name and address on the back of the cheque along with a telephone number.

If possible, request verification of the address (e.g. driving licence) – cheque guarantee cards no longer exist!

Deposits for work may also be taken to enable visitors to go and get cash but do ensure you take their full details and agree a “collection deadline”. Remember once a deposit has been paid the item needs to be red spotted and won’t be available for sale.

Having a credit/debit card pay system can make purchases easier and have been found to increase sales– there are many tried and tested applications on the market using your iPad or mobile phone. Remember, these will charge a payment fee so do take this into account when setting your prices and will require a consistent and good telephone network or broadband connection. Examples of such systems are Pay Pal or iZettle but there are many others too.

Some people may want a receipt for payment so having a duplicate book (available from most stationers) or a tear off sheet, would be good.

Whether or not you are registered as self employed, you will need to keep a record of your sales in case these are needed for tax purposes.


Refreshments

You may want to provide your visitors with some sort of refreshment if you have space to do this. But do remember, at times you may be busy – opening the front door, talking to people, taking payments etc – so it is best not to provide anything that requires elaborate preparation or takes you out of the display area unless you have plenty of help. The use of disposable cups is helpful and make sure any nibbles are not messy or sticky in case your work is handled!!


Enjoy the experience

Opening your home. Studio or workspace to the public to exhibit your work should be fun! Getting feedback on your work, being able to discuss what you do and how you do it is very rewarding so do make sure you make yourself available to talk to visitors.


And finally

If for whatever reason you find you are unexpectedly unable to open as stipulated in the brochure, please advise your nearby BEAT venues so that they can let people know and thus limit disappointment. Also put a clear sign at your venue stating any amendments to opening times.

Good luck!