Follow these 8 tips to make the most of your visit to Gowanus Open Studios

1. Keep in mind why you are going.

People come to Gowanus Open Studios for different reasons. Thinking ahead about why you are coming can keep you focused and help you get the most out of the weekend. For example:

  • You want to support a friend or an artist you know.

  • You want to see a variety of art.

  • You want to buy art.

  • You want to get inspired in your own art-making.

  • You want to meet folks from the Gowanus neighborhood.

  • You want to expose your kids to art and the creative life.

  • You never miss a chance to see the insides of the warehouses and old industrial buildings.

  • You are curious what contemporary, living, working artists are making.

  • You want to support living, working artists.

  • You want to talk to artists about the processes, meanings, and thinking that goes into their art-making.

  • You wonder what it would be like to be an artist.

  • You need a good dose of creativity, inspiration, and art in your life!

2. Make this your OWN event.

There are no rules for Gowanus Open Studios.  Artists open their doors, you come in.  That’s it.

  • It is okay to spend all afternoon both Saturday and Sunday at GOS and it is okay to spend just one hour.

  • It is okay to stay a very long time in one studio OR to stay only a second in a studio.

  • It is okay to talk to every artist and okay to talk to no artists.

  • It is okay to ask lots of questions and okay to ask no questions.

  • It is okay to be a first-timer to the art scene and okay to be an expert looking to discover the next Master Artist.

  • It is okay to visit all 400+ artist studios/venues or to visit just one.

The joy of Gowanus Open Studios is that you can experience it YOUR way.

3. Ask questions (only if you want to!).

If you want to learn about the art you see or about the artists you meet, here are a few ideas to break the ice:

  • Ask about the medium: Is it oil? Acrylic? Printmaking? Wax? How do you like using that medium? Why have you chosen to work with this medium?

  • Ask about the process: How do you make that? What is your process?

  • Ask about the meaning: What does this artwork mean to you?

  • Ask about the inspiration: Where do you get your ideas for new work? Are there other artists whose work you admire and/or have influenced your art?

Don’t worry about asking a “dumb” question.  All artists participating in GOS are very interested in your reactions – they don’t expect an art professor or a critic’s point of view (unless you ARE a professor or a critic and then, by all means, share those thoughts!). Artists will appreciate your feedback and your curiosity.

4. Have a conversation (only if you want to!).

Don’t feel like you HAVE to talk to the artist. But it’s possible to have an interesting conversation! You don’t have to say anything impressive. And you don’t have to tell an artist that you like their work if you don’t.  But if you do like it, or it interests you in some way, you should tell them, and tell them why if you can.  Here are some ideas on how to start:

  • I love this piece, it reminds me of __________.

  • This caught my attention because it’s ___________ (very calm, or really colorful, or very dark, or…).

  • I find your work challenging, because _________.

5. Consider buying art.

This event is open to everyone and there is no expectation or obligation to buy any art.  It is an opportunity for artists and the community to connect. If you like the idea of supporting living artists by buying their work or you have a spare wall in your apartment, this is a great opportunity to buy art.

  • In case you see something that you love, bring a checkbook, or cash, or some artists – but not all – do accept credit cards.

  • Some artists will negotiate a price, some have set prices. Some will have prices displayed with the artwork or on a separate price list. If you don’t see prices, be sure to ask! Don't be shy.

  • If you do buy a piece, some artists will let you walk away with it, some might ask you to come back to pick up.

6. Connect with your favorite artists.

When you find an artist whose work you like, find a way to make a connection with that artist:

  • Sign their guest book and include your email so they can keep in touch with you.

  • Take their cards, post cards, or other take-aways to help you remember them and their work.

  • LIKE their artist page on Facebook.

  • Follow the artist on Instagram and/or Twitter.

  • Ask the artist how to stay in touch.

It can be very satisfying to follow an artist’s career as it develops and blossoms.  Your support as a visitor to Gowanus Open Studios is invaluable in this process.

7. Take a break!

Don’t forget to take a break or two. Stop by some of the delicious restaurants and amazing rest stops in Gowanus. Check out our list of wonderful sponsors for some ideas! Put your feet up, refresh, and refuel. 

Or stroll across one of the bridges and appreciate the industrial beauty of our neighborhood.