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Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Business Chat - CraftSource 2012 is up!!!

Hey! It’s December! What??? A few days ago and we were carving pumpkins and kaboom, it’s full-on Christmas season now. Time flies so fast! Before you know it the flowers will be back and it will be the summer craft show season. Even though we’re all super busy now it’s important not to let your craft business get put totally aside. One thing to start thinking about right now is your 2012 craft show season. I received 2 show applications in my inbox this week already and those applications are in the envelopes ready to go.  I also received an email from a colleague telling me that the 2012 edition of CraftSource was available for download! Yay!

When you are in the beginning stages of your craft career applications don’t just show up in your inbox yet. You have to find the shows yourself. In Ontario the best place to look for shows is in the Ontario Craft Council’s online publication  - CraftSource . Most provinces/states have a crafts organization that publishes a list of shows. If you’re in the USA check out Sunshine Artists magazine. Another good source of shows is to look at artists you admire and look at their websites. All of us have websites where we list the events we participate in.

CraftSourcelists the larger shows, not the community shows or church basement types of shows. (And definitely not the mall shows which as a handmade artist you would NEVER do). If you look at these and think “wow, those are expensive, I’m not ready yet” that’s fine. Download the publication and read it anyway. it’s important to know about everything that’s out there. Why not challenge yourself to aim for one large juried show this summer, after all, summer is a long time away.

Once you’ve downloaded and read the whole guide, here’s a guide to what to do next.

 Fortunately almost all show organizers now have websites where you can download the application. Applications are free, go ahead, check out a whole bunch of them. Even if you aren’t sure about doing a show it’s always good to know about them for future reference.

Once you’ve made a list of shows you’d like to participate in or are just curious about, download all the applications. If an application is not yet available make a note on your calendar when you can get it. When you have your applications write the application deadlines on your calendar so you don’t miss one!

Here’s a couple of insider tips. NEVER do a show that is not juried. A juried show means that someone has looked at your photos and checked to make sure your work is handmade. A non-juried show is any old crap that someone wants to sell and you can bet some of it is made in third world countries. As a handmade artist you cannot compete with third world work so make sure you’re in a show with only other handmade work. A juried show also has quotas, meaning that the show has a good variety of work and is not 100% jewelry.

ALWAYS send your application in as fast as you can, don’t wait until the deadline. Jewelry is one of the hardest categories to get into due to the high number of applicants. Just because a show has a deadline of March 31 doesn’t mean that your category is still open until March 31. Besides, the faster you get your application in, the faster you get that task off your to do list.

Create a standard application kit for yourself. Decide which photos you will use, write your resume (craft only), and other items you’ll need and keep them all in one place. This way when you get an application all you have to do is print out the kit and pop it in an envelope.

Get the BEST photos that you can. Digital cameras are really cheap now so there’s no excuse for bad photos. If you’re photos are lousy invest some time reading the manual for your camera and some time learning how to take good shots. Your 5 – 10 images are all an organizer has to judge your work on, make them shine. There is no formula for image shots but there are some basic rules. Use a plain coloured background, preferably white. This isn’t about showing how artistic a photographer you are, it’s about showing what you make. Do not crowd the shot, each image should be of 1 or maximum 2 pieces. Make sure the whole shot is in focus. Label each photo (on the back) with your name, company name, name of the piece and what it’s made of.

Everybody reading this blog should sign up for a show in 2012, even if it’s just a one afternoon event in a church basement. If you start planning for it now you’ll be totally organized and ready when it arrives.

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