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My expectations were low for Portland Open Studios 2008 as the economy was tanking, and one never knows with art sales anyway. My dear friend Tina was here to help, thankfully, because it was a slow morning and gave us a chance to get some clay work going. Later, Tina was a godsend because she can do numbers when things get busy, while I get excited and scatter-brained.

I took advantage of the two-weekend option and was curious to see what kind of attendance we’d have. Day one we ended up having 62 people through, and 17 the second day. I am grateful to neighbor Portland Open Studios artist Ann Munson, who directed many people my way. People did tell me they saw publicity for Portland Open Studios everywhere; one of my images was once again featured in Portland Monthly magazine due to the efforts of Bonnie Meltzer, who does an outstanding job with the PR every year.

Meeting and greeting visitors is always a blast, and people were just lovely. Sales were beyond expectations. Weekend one sales were not that far from the previous year’s. Weekend two brought in another 57 people and a few more sales, bringing my total to about the same as 2007. As a result of Portland Open Studios, I received a commission from one of my patrons. I’ve decided having minimal expectations is a good strategy for me, as is working in clay the whole time, emphasizing connecting with visitors as much as possible, and talking about my classes and workshops. Several people who came through ended up in my January workshop and one person has been in my Saturday classes since October. What a delight to form relationships through art and artmaking!

I tried to price things to sell, especially pieces that had been around for a while, and that which did sell represented a range of sizes and prices that seemed to follow no pattern. The studio felt significantly emptier by the end of the weekend. I love that feeling. This year I also offered cards and prints as an experiment. I sold a few cards and no prints. POS is the perfect laboratory to try new things. I also offered some thrown bowls and hand-built vases and sold a number of each. All in all, the experience was heartwarming and rewarding, and I will certainly apply again next year, trying to let go of any expectations, experimenting with new offerings, and staying open to whatever happens.


Portland Open Studios Homepage

Learn more about the Open Studios weekends, where to purchase tour guides, see images of each artist's work, find links to artists' web sites, and much more at Portland Open Studios.


Listen to interviews with Portland Open Studios artists (and more) at Mike Turner's website.


January 2009
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