Oshun Oxtra – Christmas AOH2016
How many times have you exhibited at AOH? What advice would you give to others thinking about being part of AOH?
We’ve done 5 AOH festivals and this Christmas will be our sixth.
When we did our first open house, we did it with a view that we wouldn’t get many visitors and wouldn’t sell anything. We wanted to use the experience to get feedback for our work first hand – and it was great to have the validation as artists/makers that we were producing quality work that people liked. Having different people manning the open house helps – I’m not natural at pushing myself forward and talking about my work but can happily talk to people about Michele’s or Sam’s.
Visitors are unpredictable. On days when you think it will be quiet because of the weather or local event, it’ll be really busy. On others when you’d think it would be the perfect weather for wandering around the festival, it’s quiet. It may seem sad but make sure you keep a click counter handy and count everyone that comes in – make a note of visitor numbers and compare with sales. You may think ‘Oh, I’ve only had 20 people through the door’ but if you’ve sold to half of those people, then you’ve not done that badly! Other advice would be to prepare early – whether that’s your marketing or just dressing the house/studio and making sure all your pricing is visible, etc. It always seems to be a mad rush to get everything ready in time so the more prepared you can be, the better.
- How did all the artists come together?
We’re actually family – Oshun Oxtra consists of me (Jez – illustrated prints), my wife (Michele – oil paintings and linocut prints) and her sister (Samantha – jewellery).
- What has the curating process been like?
Luckily our work is complimentary but different in style and product so we have different special requirements – Sam needs table space for Jewellery whereas Michele and I need hanging and print rack space for paintings and prints. We’ve found that mixing our work on the walls so they’re not all grouped together helps people notice different pieces of work more than if they’re all in one area. That makes curating the space easier as we can spread the work around and no-one gets so precious about who’s in the prime spot, etc.
- Could you share some highlights from your exhibition? What should people expect to see in your house/venue?
This summer, I had a couple travel down from Manchester who had earmarked my work to see from the brochure – they ended up buying two prints! It was really great to know that someone had come especially to see my work and then liked it enough to want to take it home.
What should people expect? People always comment on how colourful all of our work is together which just shows how well our work compliments each other. We like to create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere – happy to chat if people want to but equally, you can just come in, listen to the music and enjoy the artwork (or duck out of the rain for 5 minutes). We’ve all done new work specifically for this Open House – Michele and I are particularly excited about our new range of lampshades which we are launching at the festival.
- What would you like to achieve by the end of the festival?
Obviously it’s great to get sales but we’re really trying to raise awareness of our work so we keep a track on our website analytics. There’s always a spike when we’re doing the Open House so we know that we’re getting more interest. Long term, it’s keeping that interest going for the rest of the year.
- What are you looking forward to the most during AOH?
We’re looking forward to showing our new artwork and launching our new lampshade designs – great to get feedback on our new fabric designs which could lead to other products in the future. Hopefully helping some people sort out their Christmas shopping and judging by the amount of Open Houses offering complimentary mulled wine and mince pies – I think it will be a merry occasion!
JW_SKra: Sakura by Jez Webb (Illustrated Giclee print)
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