Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Applying to Craft Shows

It's snowing like mad outside. Hubby is trying to clean the driveway for the first time because once we get over a foot the snowblower has a hard time with it. And there's already an inch in the area that he cleared.

It's a great day to do paperwork. So I'm sifting through craft show applications to do the ones with the earliest due dates. I like to do from 12 to 15 shows per year; most from June through November.

I have a spreadsheet of shows that lists show dates, application due dates, costs, requirements and, when I have it, information on traffic numbers. Maybe that's a little obsessive but I like being organized. (Another consequence of being in the library world for so long.) And since they all have different due dates, if I don't get into one I can quickly find another the same month or even the same weekend with a later due date.

I also keep a notebook that includes printed off information from the show websites and copies of applications from last year along with the pictures that were sent. This allows me to redo what was successful and change applications that weren't.

I spent part of yesterday photographing my newest silver clay pieces. I have a couple I'm particularly proud of and wanted to try for great pictures. I think that pictures are probably the most important part of the application process. After all, they're worth a thousand words. Although I've never been on a craft show jury, if I were, I'd want them to be crisp and clear and show as much of the work as possible. It's a contest after all and the best work wins a spot.

In some shows all jewelry is put into the same pot and in others there are categories such as metalsmithing, strung jewelry, alternative materials, etc. I have learned that lots of work gets lumped into the very large category of strung/beaded jewelry. So last year I applied using pictures of our steampunk pieces. There's not so much competition there. This year I'll do the same but with the higher end shows I'll send pictures of my new silver pieces. While I do see silver smiths at some of the shows, I think my fine silver is a bit different. Well, I guess we'll see.

A few quick thoughts about craft show applications--
--Every show that you want to get into is important. Treat every application with the same level of professionalism, whether it's a large juried show or a small local one.
--Make sure the application is filled out completely right down to your car model and license number, if requested.
--Any essays should be neat, legible, well written, and grammatically correct.
--Descriptions of pieces should be like advertising sound bites. Rather than "necklace", tell them what it's made of, how it's constructed, etc., as succinctly as possible.
--Send the best pictures of your best work.
--And send it out so it gets there before the due date.
--If you have questions about any part of the application, don't wing it or skip it. Call or email and ask!
--Don't forget to include the check. Read the application carefully as some only want the jury fee, and some want the check post dated.

It's important that the show organizers get whatever information they need. If something is missing they might just toss your application.