Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tips on Applying to Craft Shows: What Your Website Says About You

Every year around this time, Tasha posts her fabulous "do's & don'ts" guide for juried craft show application photos. Now, I don't really have anything to add on that subject because a) Tasha pretty much did a great job and b) I'm a 2-D artist and most of my work fits on a scanner, so I guess I kind of lucked out there.

But, as a show juror I more often than not will delve deeper than just the 2 images attached to the application in order to make a more informed decision (especially if I am on the fence about an applicant). This means I can sometimes rely just as much on the applicant's website as their application photos to make my selection.

Content, content, content!
Now, I am certainly not looking for mad web design skillz (though I will touch on the importance of presentation a little later). First and foremost, what I want from an applicant's website is a better idea of their body of work as a whole. This is usually accomplished through browsing through their photo gallery or online store. So, having a wealth of quality photos of your strongest work goes a long way! Blurry/pixelated photos, photos of an "oops" project, or photos of old, out-dated work are better left off your website.

Pride & Prejudice or First Impressions
OK (now that I've established that I am a big Jane Austen nerd) lets talk about first impressions. For better or for worse, not only the content of your website, but how that content is presented plays a large factor in how your work is perceived by a show juror.

Let's use a little screen-shot of my website as an example.

OK, so it is by no means the pinnacle of web design, but from the homepage you can immediately tell that my work is bright, fun, and quirky. It is a fairly simple layout, with an easily navigable set of links on the side if a potential show juror wanted to delve further into my work or to learn more about me. There aren't a lot of unnecessary text or widgets on the front page and you do not have to scroll endlessly to find links or content.

I would hope that this website tells a show juror that I am kooky and fun but also organized and professional.

Now let's look at a fake page I made to illustrate some 'don'ts.'

What's wrong with this homepage:
  • crowded and cluttered, which makes finding links & content a chore
  • badly re-sized photos (squished and low-resolution)
  • text & personal photo would be better off in a separate "about me" page
  • clip-art and other unnecessary elements look unprofessional
  • the most important thing (a photo gallery) is not finished, so there is essentially no content to this website
A homepage like this portrays me as unprofessional and disorganized. As a show juror I would see this page and wonder "If she cares so little about how her work is presented on her website, what will her table display look like?"

"But Erica," you might well say "I don't know how to re-design my site!" or "OMG, the application deadline is, like, tomorrow and I don't have time to re-design!"

Never fear, my intrepid crafter! Etsy to the rescue!

Don't be afraid to use your Etsy store.
I am surprised how often applicants will list a non-business personal blog or an uninformative/half-finished website on their application, when they have a perfectly lovely Etsy store. Etsy is the best thing to ever happen to the web-design challenged. All you have to do is take great photos of nice work, and the Etsy layout will make you look like a million bucks. Don't make a show juror work to find your Etsy store. If you're at all unsure about the quality or content of your website, use your Etsy store instead.

Don't have an Etsy store? A Flickr account is a great, easy way to share lots of photos. You can even organize them into categories for all the types of things you make. (Just be sure that if you also post personal photos to your Flickr account that you organize them so a juror doesn't have to wade through 50 pictures of your cat to find your crafts!)

The Bottom Line.
Remember, a juror in an indie show will not think you are unprofessional just because you don't have your own .com! (She will, however, probably find you unprofessional if you have a badly made .com) Just because an application asks for your "business website" doesn't mean it must, must, must be List the site that shows you off best, whether that is your Etsy shop, your craft-related blog, or your Flickr account.

Want more tips on applying to shows from people way cooler than me?

Crafty Bastards: Make the Crafty Cut Craft Show Applications Unraveled

1 comment:

Tasha McKelvey said...

Great tips!