Friday, May 1, 2015

locked out! moved on.

hrrmmm. I got locked out of this blog for a bit and when I got access back, I just didn't bother doing the entire series of posts I was going to do.

But I think that's ok. My life has changed a lot since then and I think maybe it's time for this guy to be done too.

I'm still doing art and still nerding out over here on an irregular basis. More nerding out than art for the moment, but there will be ebbs and flows I'm sure.

I'm getting ready to move to Seattle which is weird/exciting/unexpected. Art has taken a back seat to fixing my hands/spine and getting my life in order, but I'm hoping to get back to it very soon. After I move.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Why You Didn't Get Into That Craft Show: Installment #1

I’ve been jurying craft shows (mostly the Bloomington Handmade Market, but on occasion other guest jury stints) for about five years now, and attending them for my whole life in many different roles – as an artist/vendor, as an artist helper, as a customer, as an organizer, and as a juror. While I don't claim to be The Definitive expert on craft shows, I have noticed certain trends and tendencies on the parts of both artists and organizers.

DISCLAIMER: Please know that the opinions following are totally my own and do not reflect the views of any show I have been affiliated with or may be affiliated with – this is me speaking as an independent juror. Please also know that any examples I provide are generalized examples that apply to trends I’ve seen over the years – if an example I provide describes you, rest assured I am NOT singling you out anonymously. It means I have noticed many artists doing exactly the same thing and this is why I mention it.

After every application cycle, there are invariably two things that happen in regard to artists who are outspokenly unhappy that they weren't admitted into the show.

1)       Some of them email the organizer and ask what they could do to improve their application next time.

2)       Some of them do not email the organizer but waves of discontent reach the organizer through the usual gossip channels.

Following this, either the artist does or doesn’t apply again next year.

So here is my letter to you, artists who weren’t accepted to the show. These are all the reasons why, for this juror anyway, you might not have made it. But here’s the thing: I really want you to get in! I truly do. I wouldn’t have helped start a craft show if I didn’t want to see talented, rising artists get help making a sustainable living doing what they love. When people reapply year after year, I notice. When artists’ work grows over time – or doesn’t – I take note. When artists are persistent and truly take an interest in bettering their work, I file that away. Everything about your presentation goes into the craft show experience. So artists: here’s what I’ve noticed about your collective presentation, and my advice as to what you can do to improve your chances, at least with this juror.

This will be in installments because you don't want to read this whole thing in one sitting.

Table of Contents

1. Research the event.
2. Focus!
2a. Reconsider sharing a booth.
3. Quit with the Chevrons and Triangles.
4. The Whole Package is important
5. Navigation
6. Don't Apologize!
7. Be nice / be professional
8. Talent Is An Asset (But It's Not Everything)

Part 1: Research The Event.

It is glaringly obvious when you submit artisan cake toppings to a show that is not covered by its insurance policy to sell food, that you didn't research the show.

Before you apply, if you've never applied to the show before, you really need to spend a minimum of 10 minutes researching the show. Ideally, you should attend it if possible, but at the very least you need to be looking over the website and checking out a few of the artists who have sold there in the past.

The four main things you need to note are:

- What is the overall feel of the show?
Is it a contemporary craft show? Is it a fiber-based show? Traditional or modern? For a contemporary craft show, your rustic Amish-style quilts, while no doubt beautiful and very well-constructed, are not going to be a good fit.

This may all seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many applications I've seen that simply don't fit the show. It's not that the work isn't good – oftentimes, it's quite good. But if you make quilted Vera Bradley-style totes and most of what the show features bag-wise is recycled vinyl purses and cigar box clutches, it may not matter how well-crafted your bags are.

- Consider the audience.
For the jury, if it's a show that's been going on for a while, they have this pretty well nailed down. In my experience, most shows break down into a set list of categories something like this:

• prints and illustration
• plush toys
• sewn adult clothing & bags
• sewn children's clothing
• ceramics and pottery
• jewelry/metalworking
• soap
• bookbinding/leatherwork
• knitted and crocheted accessories
• woodworking and furniture

 How many artists are typically accepted from each category? Locate your category and check out some of the artists. If your category isn't in there, is it because you're looking at the wrong kind of show - or is it because you're doing something really unique that the show could use?

See what other artists in your category are making, how they're marketing it, what their level of expertise is. Don't copy them. But know your colleagues and be familiar with their work. If you're just beginning, and they've been at it for 20 years, you might not be applying to the right show. Or maybe your work is really incredible and you do belong in the show - but be honest with yourself. You can always improve, but where are you now?

Additionally, are the participating artists' price points similar to yours, or do they differ wildly? Your work might very well be work $500 a piece, but if everything else in the show is between $5 and $20, the customers are likely not going to be prepared for a booth where most of the items are out of that target price range. A few show pieces are great and can add a lot to your booth, but overall your price point should be fairly similar to other artists of your medium at the show.

- Tailor your application to the show.
Just like when you apply for jobs, you don't send a canned resume out to 40 different companies – or, you're not supposed to, anyway. You tailor each resume to the job description. The same goes for shows. You don’t have to overhaul your whole website, but treat each application as its own entity. Don't submit the artist's statement you wrote for the state fair art show last year or, if you do, read over it first to make sure it makes sense.

- What time of year is it?
This too may seem glaringly obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen artists apply to a spring show with winter hats and scarves. If you make items such as clothing that have a seasonal component, this goes along with tailoring your application for the show – make sure the items you feature match the shopping style that's going to be happening at the show. In the spring people are looking to spend their tax returns on fun things for themselves, and to purchase Mother's Day gifts. In the fall they're going to be looking for warm accessories and holiday presents.

Next post I'll talk about focus and why it's so crucial in your show application.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Awesome handmade game

I'm working on a board game exhibit right now (for a class, but hopefully it will be real someday!) and came across this image while doing some research on the game "Sorry."

Jamaican game

This is apparently a hand-made game that has some similarities to Sorry -- found on this blog about traveling in Jamaica. I would love to see this game in person and play it. Notice that the counters appear to be rocks and bottle caps. Too amazing!