Guy Maberly asks four experienced artists, involved in the Artists Open House Festival, for some advice for those opening their homes for this year’s festival.
In an attempt to find out what it takes to exhibit successfully at the Artists Open House Festival, I have spoken to two respected artists whose work has been the subject of much visitor excitement in recent years.
Painter Dion Salvador Lloyd takes inspiration for his paintings from music and nature. His imagined, ‘global’ paintings transport you to vast, slightly surreal landscapes, which evoke all kinds of memories and feelings.
He has been exhibiting in his house for 14 years and seems just as excited to be taking part today, as when he first took part. Last year Dion was nominated for the Best Open House award.
“I try and do something different every year” he says, “with the aim to inspire others.”
“You need to challenge yourself and keep it fresh. I decorate the house every year, so the place looks the best it can. And, DON’T charge for tea or coffee, etc! These lovely people have made an effort to come to your Open House so you need to make them feel welcome. There are over 200 houses but they have come to mine. I always ask myself why. It’s very important in my world!”
As to why he continues to take part, Dion is quite candid:
“Everything about doing Open Houses is positive”, he says enthusiastically. “The feedback you get is invaluable and if you leave out a Guest Book you’ll receive comments as well as a mailing list. The exposure is great and it will boost your profile. Of course, sales and commissions are important, but so are building relationships with collectors, buyers and clients, that you don’t get through the galleries system.”
For Dion “It’s all about sharing the love and inspiring people. I meet people from all walks of life and that’s great. Make your house, or studio feel inviting. People like that.”
Print maker Sarah Jones has been opening her house as part of the AOH Festival for the last six years. Originally part of the Hove Trail, Sarah has now moved and is part of the Dyke Road Trail. Apparently, she bought her new house with her Festival exhibition in mind.
It took her by surprise how successful it would be, opening her house for the first time in 2007, and she’s never looked back.
To Sarah it’s not merely about selling her work but also meeting people who share her passion.
“By taking part in the Open Houses, I have met people who have taken my work to exhibit in New York; at The Affordable Art Fair in London and various other exhibitions, which has been great.”
“I take the festival seriously” she says. “I like to cherry-pick other artists to exhibit in the house with me - there were 15 of us last time! This attracts many more visitors and, of course, brings down running costs. We each chip in a small amount before the festival starts for the AOH brochure listing, some flyers and PV wine.”
Off the back of her successes with Artist Open Houses, Sarah now has a shop/gallery in the Artists Quarter on the beach front, called Jones & Green. For this year’s festival, Jones & Green will be collaborating with five other artists’ galleries in the Quarter.