Saturday, February 06, 2010

A bit of advice on applying to craft shows

Us crafters and artists use images of our work to represent what we make in many situations where the actual work can’t be present like a show jury, selling online, marketing materials, etc. You might make awesome work, but very few people will be aware of it if you don’t have good images to represent your work. One option is to hire out your product photography, this a good option for getting really great images for show juries especially. It would probably be cost prohibitive for keeping an online shop well-stocked with one-of-a-kind or short run items though. I never went the professional photographer route myself - I’m very DIY (unless it has to do with gas lines, electric wiring or heights).

Sometimes I am just astounded by the images that some pretty darn good crafters send in to a craft show jury. I ask myself “What were they thinking?!” but I know the truth is they just don’t realize that they were shooting themselves in the foot with their image choices.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to someone applying to a craft show is prepare your images carefully before you fill out that application. Your images are the most important part of your application! Maybe your work fits into an under-represented media category and you might slip by with marginally okay images of your work, but this is not the case most of the time. Most shows receive at least twice as many applications as spaces available, and some receive 4 or 5 times as many applications as spaces! That makes for some pretty tough competition.
If you make jewelry, which is currently a very popular craft form, then your competition is way tougher. If you make jewelry and work in another craft category as well, it is important not over promote your jewelry on your application - although some shows do require separate application for different media categories. I’m not saying to lie on your application, but if you make cool stuff that isn’t jewelry you should let the show jury know about it!

Also make sure that a particular craft show is a good fit for you - if you make Country Crafts than an Indie Craft Show probably isn’t a good fit for you and visa versa.

Here’s some updated tips that I originally came up with few years ago on
putting together Application Images for Craft Shows:

Note how the top row of images is cohesive in subject matter and color family.

What not to do!

Last bit of advice:

Always read Craft Show Applications carefully and be sure to follow directions to the very best of your ability. A correctly filled out application makes the Show’s Organizers’ and Jury’s jobs much easier. Indie Show Organizers are often volunteers (like myself & fellow RCM members) and put hours & days into putting a show together. Following directions on an application and at the actual show (if you get in!) demonstrates courtesy to the show’s organizers and your fellow crafters - which might be pretty important if you want to get into that same show next year!

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