When you’ve secured a much-anticipated studio visit with a curator, art critic, or other important visitor. The plans have been confirmed and the calendar appointment set. So, what’s next? Preparing for the visit and offering a gracious and thoughtful reflection on your work during the visit: check! But then what? Are there certain steps you can take to ensure that the studio visit you’ve organized turns into an actionable opportunity to showcase your work?
One incredibly important factor – and one that is often overlooked – is making a positive impression post-studio visit. In other words, sustaining a continued interest from your visitor and working with them to develop a closer, positive working relationship. This will (hopefully) clear the pathway toward working together on future exhibitions and/or collaborating on other endeavors. Nervous about continuing a good relationship with your visitor once they’ve left your artist studio? Don’t sweat it: Check out our tried-and-tested tips below to make sure you’re following the proper etiquette to build a solid foundation for a productive professional relationship moving forward.
Confirm Interest Next Steps
Most crucial to the artist studio visit is an artist’s ability to listen to uninterrupted feedback from guests. Is someone reading into your artwork and seeing concepts or themes in your practice that don’t feel applicable to your work? Let the visitor finish their thought, then ask why. By showing that you’re listening to feedback and consider it valuable, whether it is obvious or obtuse, your guest will feel appreciated and valued. Once they have exited the studio, take a deep breath, and begin drafting an email to them. It’s better to start with your follow-up response when it’s fresh: you could even build in an extra half-hour into your schedule post-studio visit to begin work on this crucial next step.
When drafting your follow-up response post-studio visit, the most obvious points to reach back out with are relevant to the detailed notes that were hopefully kept during the visit. Create a short-but-sweet draft (no more than four paragraphs!) with separate points divided by paragraph. Make sure you address key points that the visitor raised during the visit, and attach a portfolio specific to the works or bodies of work that interested your guest during their studio visit for consideration. Curator Akeem Duncan, Quiet Lunch editor, says a successful followup email should “Quickly remind me why I visited your studio in the first place and include an online link to your work or website, so I don’t have to recall your art through memory and .”
Follow-up after a studio visit is most effective when it’s completed as soon as possible. An email received within 24 hours feels most genuine, but sending a follow-up within two to three days is acceptable and, if the guest understands you are in the throes of installing a show or other urgent business, a week will suffice. Show your genuine appreciation for your guest’s time: They could have visited any artist’s studio and they came to yours, so make sure to include a sentence on how you value their feedback and their presence at your space. It’s okay to use similar emails to follow up with guests, but you may want to avoid sending a form email to thank visitors to your artist studio. The creative community is very small and word may get out that very little effort was put into your follow-up attempts if you repeatedly copy the same message to fire off after every studio visit. Finally don’t forget to ask your guest for their permission to add them to your mailing list, and to keep engaging with your guest about their upcoming endeavors.
This way you can keep them informed about what you’re working on next.It’s great to recount ideas brought up during their visit as nothing signals truly wanting to build a continued relationship in the future like asking for specifics on upcoming events and projects. So ask to join their mailing list as well! From there, you can start adding their events to your calendar and greeting your recent guest in person at a future date to celebrate their hard work and to gauge a better sense of how they work as a professional on their own projects.
Your artist studio guest likely has their own influential social media presence, including a substantial following on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, so don’t miss your chance to collaboratively expand both of your networks. Any photos you took from the studio visit, once approved by your guest, should be shared appropriately; whether in a Facebook post mentioning the guest, or an Instagram album detailing the highlights of the visit. By tagging your guest and sharing moments from your interaction, you have a firm foundation to both share good news and insight from your own practice while forging a pathway toward new followers who are interested in what your work holds.
After these posts, stay social and continue to follow your artist studio guest. Whether liking their posts on other art endeavors or leaving supportive comments on future posts, make sure that you continue to engage with your artist studio guests in a meaningful way. This will help you have a firm grasp on what they’ve been up to the next time you cross paths. Note: This doesn’t mean an artist needs to digitally stalk past studio guests; rather, keep your eyes open and when you notice something interesting, make your move. Staying on someone’s radar on social media is a great way to communicate when running busy schedules – which, let’s face it, are par for the course in the creative economy.
Keep Informed, Share it Forward
After you’ve secured permission to add a studio guest to your mailing list, make sure to join their email list to catch upcoming projects as well. Build a better relationship together by not only attending their projects, but bringing a friend along who you feel can also create a positive interaction with your new contact. And of course, share! We are nothing without the networks that we create together as artists and creative professionals. By sharing with our interested networks, we are both doing a favor for our new contact and for our audiences who are seeking meaningful and interesting events to attend that intersect with their own interests. Building out networks together is a practical and convenient solution to building up awareness and creating synergistic avenues of future partnership together.
In addition to sharing news with your networks, find common areas of collaborating together to share news that is relevant to both yourself and your recent artist studio guest. Have friends in common? Share details of their events on social media networks, or use the announcement as an opportunity to reconnect. Maybe they also plan to attend an event with a common friend or connection. By sharing positive interactions, supporting others and one another’s endeavors, you’ll be building on a common affirmative foundation to create a closer working relationship. It’s not crucial to contact them on a consistent basis once the initial email has gone through to follow up with their visit, but by continuing to pop up in their inbox or on their social media channels when relevant, you’ll be sustaining awareness of what you have in common and how you can combine your powers for a greater (creative) force for good!
Practicing good etiquette following studio visits can seem simple, but by taking care to respect your guests you’ll be making a lasting positive impression. By keeping in contact with visitors, responding to topics raised during the visit and following up when they announce events and exhibitions you will be remembered as a responsive and supportive contact. By creating strong links within the wider network, you’ll be well-placed to come to mind when exhibition opportunities arise.
What’s post-studio visit etiquette? Let us know in the comments!
Audra Lambert is a curator, arts marketing consultant, and editor.