The Tacoma Studio Tour has been going on for yearsss (decades?). I've been participating since 2017, so let me give you the rundown.
promotional image provided by the Tacoma Arts Month organizers
But really, what is the Tacoma Studio Tour?
October is Tacoma, WA's arts month which means that the Tacoma Office of Arts and Vitality host several events to highlight Tacoma artists. This provides great free opportunities for artists and art lovers.
The Studio Tour is one of those events. It happens on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday of October from 11 am to 5 pm. Participating artists open their studios (often their homes) to welcome in guests.
The artists let guests view their art, shop merch and participate in a planned activity. As part of the studio tour, each artist must have some interactive "activity" prepared. It can be a demonstration or craft (anything really). (The first 2 years I did drawings of guests, other years I've done photo booths).
To encourage guests to make multiple stops there is also a raffle. When you stop at an artist's studio make sure to get your "passport" stamped. To be entered in the raffle you must get at least 7 stamps and send in your completed passport. (either mail it to: 747 Market Street, Room 900, Tacoma, WA 98402 or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
photo of my first Tacoma Vibes t-shirt I made for the studio tour. Photo by Winsome Walstead
Is the Tacoma Studio Tour worth going to?
Obviously, I am going to say yes. Before I was a participating artist in the studio tour, I was a guest. As a guest it can be a mixed bag, not every stop is created equally. But you can stumble upon some real treasures. (I've bought work during the studio tour).
The studio tour is so cool because a lot of the artist community can seem closed off to non-artists. But for 2 days there are 50 different studios that will be welcoming you in (some stops have multiple artists).
Insider Tips for doing the studio tour-
If you can, plan on doing both days- There are 50 stops. You won't be interested in all 50+ artists. However, if you want to get the raffle entry you'll need at least 7 stops and even that is a challenge. It's surprisingly exhausting driving around, trying to find studio doors, chatting with people, shopping etc. It's nice to use the second day for studios you wanted to see but just couldn't hit in time. Also some artists only participate on certain days. (I only do Saturday, but other people may only do Sunday).
Try to make a game plan/ utilize the map on your phone- Tacoma is a big place, don't waste your gas or your time. It's super nice if you visit that studio that's a little out of the way, but maybe hit it strategically
Have brunch beforehand- The tour is 11 am to 5 pm, that is over 1 meal time and closing up on dinner time. This event can be tiring. Some stops will have snacks but many won't. I recommend fueling up before heading out.
Get in the shopping headspace- For many artists this is one of the bigger events they have. They are so excited to share their work with you. If you like something, please consider supporting that artist. October is a great time to start thinking about holiday gifts. People love to receive something handmade/local.
Here are the artists I would visit-
Judith Perry (stop #47)
Spun (stop #16) they are having a ton of ceramic artists this year, so it's a big bang for your buck
Darrell McKinney (stop #26) I've never seen his work in person, but it seems cool from his website
Gillian Nordlund (stop #32) I haven't seen her work in person either but from her instagram it looks funky and fun
Jaymes Junio (stop #24) He was almost in my Tacoma in Seattle show this August. His work is cool
Beautiful Angle (stop #18) Cool posters. These are some cool Tacoma people you should meet
Coxswain Press (stop # 18) You will find a cute little print you have to have
Lynne Farren (stop #14) She doesn't have a website, but her work is cool, eclectic and strange.
Marit Berg (stop #45) I've never seen her work in person but it seems v good
Michal Muehlheim-Peterson (stop #3) cute little ceramics
photo of myself and Mitchel at 2019 photo booth at studio tour
Is it worth being a participating artist?
To be honest, sort of. If your studio is easy to find, near other artist's studios and (even better) is a shared space with other artists then you will get more traffic.
Last year was prettyyy slow. However, my studio is slightly hard to find and it was 2022, things were slightly still slow from pandemic times. This year may be totally bustin'. I think with every art event/market/show you just never know.
I also only ever do Saturday. So if you're willing to do 2 days, I'm sure that would increase the benefit. I think a lot of guests do both days. They love to collect those passport stamps and it is really difficult to get to 7 stops in one day.
The map is helpful but Tacoma is surprisingly big. It takes a lot of effort and planning to hit more than a handful of stops. (and there are 50).
I think it's valuable but it isn't my biggest sale day ever. Knowing that, I prepare for it but I don't go crazy with planning.
studio photo by Jess Uhler
All the details about the Tacoma Studio Tour in one place-
When: October 14th + 15th, 11 am to 5 pm
Where: All over Tacoma (Tacoma proper)
What: Open studios. Meet artists, see work in person, buy things, and do fun little activities
Map: Here is the map for the tour. View it on your phone as you travel around Tacoma.
Artists: This year they split the descriptions of the artists and the artists' stop number. Which means you need to scroll down on this page to view the artist descriptions and their stop number. And then you need to find that stop on the map.
Have a blast.