I read somewhere a long time ago, that learning doesn’t come from experience, learning comes from reflecting on the experience. It takes active thought to process information and consider outcomes for learning to happen. This is especially true when reflecting on entire events or larger experiences since there are so many moving parts and decisions made to consider.
Learning doesn’t come from experience, learning comes from reflecting on the experience.
Since my very first outdoor art show, under the big emerging artist tent in Manayunk, I adopted a debriefing process. In the beginning is was simply a quick conversation over slices of pizza after the show with my husband about what we thought we did well or could improve on. I used a notebook and scratched the important items down and used it as a checklist before the next show. We made notes about the type of tent we have, how other artists set up their spaces, the way to hang weights from a tent, the finish of the business cards, the place I position my chair, where I hang price tags and the best way to pack the van. I’ve refined the debriefing process since then to include additional info and tougher questions, but ultimately, it works the same way.
I ask myself the following:
How do I feel? (Addressing emotions first is strategic. You will gain clarity during the reminder of the process by replacing emotional reactions with critical thinking.)
What were my original goals that I outlined earlier?
Did I meet the goals?
If yes, what worked best? If no, what stopped me?
Items to Consider:
Food or Beverage Issues
Success in attracting the right patrons
Recent Events (Did you have a recent Gallery Show or other event in which your patrons just came to support you?)
Use this worksheet to write down your thoughts. This will be your checklist for the next event you host. It’s helpful to do this exercise with all who took part. For me, I will include my guest artists as well as those that were there to help during the weekend.
Celebrate what worked and don’t fret if you have a list that is longer on the “needs work” side. This is where the biggest and most impactful change happens. Give yourselves an all hands in team cheer for recognizing the areas that need to be improved and make a plan to implement them before you forget…like, now…do it now because tomorrow you’ll be on to something new.
Pro Tip 1:
Use Zoom to Schedule a Debrief with all artists that were at your studio. It is free video conferencing that is as close as you can get to all being in the same room together.
Pro Tip 2:
If you are an Artwork Archive user, use the "Locations" section to track your Debrief Sessions for easy reference in the future. You can quickly see which pieces were sold during and after the County Studio Tour when you track your sales in this tab. You can click the “attach file” button at the bottom of the Location page to add your debrief notes.
Bonus Tip: Handwritten notes can be captured with a smart phone and attached as a jpg.
Extra Bonus Tip: Download Evernote or One Note and use it to organize ALL of your handwritten notes and loose paper for easy access in the future. When it snaps the photo of the note - handwritten or typed, it automatically converts the note to searchable text. I make a pile of paperwork that I need to keep and when it starts to take on a life of its own, I spend a few minutes photographing each piece in Evernote. Most of the papers can then be shredded and recycled.