Juried shows, showcases the elite works of each crafts genre: quilting, pottery, woodcarving, weaving, fabric painting, fashions, jewelry, etc.
All quality shows are juried and their standards are very strict. You will be asked to submit slides or photos and a resume of your work, also called a portfolio.
The selection committee normally consists of respected artisans and/or critics of craftworks who judge products submitted for consideration and select those that they think are best for the show. When jurying, judges look at aesthetics, function, creativity, originality, technique, marketability, quality of your work and sometimes booth design.
Most well-organized craft shows are juried so that the quality of crafts offered can be controlled; also to control the amount of any one medium in a show, i.e.: 10 weavers, 10 quilters, 10 potters, 10 woodworking, 10 stained glass, 10 jewellers, etc. The entry deadlines for these shows are usually a good 4 to 9 months in advance (especially major shows which have 200-300 booths), so that all decisions are made and the booths allocated well in advance.
Applying to Juried Shows
The first and most important advice when applying to a show is to READ THE APPLICATION!
This sounds obvious, but lots of applicants don't. The overwhelming number of craftspeople vying to get into a juried show has resulted in an ever increasing number of rejections.
To ensure that you survive the screening process, fill out all applications as directed. Sponsors of juried shows develop the application form because they want to have certain information to help them make their decisions. If you don't fill it out properly, they have every right to deny you admission; and they will! Send exactly what's requested, if it asks for five slides, don't send three photos. Fill it out neatly and legibly. Your application form, along with anything else you send, gives the judges an impression, good or bad, of you. Make it good!
Unless you're a very good photographer, get professional photos done of your work. Get close-up shots that show the detail. A photograph of your booth display can also be a big help. Send a complete resume that includes a list of your products and prices, previous shows, education and/or courses in your medium along with any other information you feel makes your work distinct.
When you document your work be sure it represents what you will be exhibiting at the juried craft show. Your slides don't have to show the exact pieces, but they must show work that is of the same type and quality. If you are asked to submit a presentation consisting of five slides, be sure the slides look good together. If two have pink backgrounds, one black, one red, and one blue, the slides do not make a good presentation. Keep all the backgrounds the same tone. The work should be the center of attention. It should fill the entire frame; multiple works in the same slide should be avoided because jurors need to know what it is they are viewing.
Identify your slides with your name and a number that corresponds with an accompanying explanatory sheet. Some applications will request that you write a description of the piece on each slide, including size and material and also your name and address. If you are requested to submit photographs, you should label the back of each one with the title, materials, dimensions and year. Secure your slides in a plastic sleeve with your name on the spine of the sleeve. Before inserting photos or slides for mailing protect them with cardboard.
If you are asked to send a resume, it should contain your name and address, relevant education, awards won, craft fairs you have attended, and the stores where you distribute your work.
Some juried shows require that you send in a non-refundable application fee or jury fee, and some shows require that you send in a partial payment of up to 50% of your booth fee, which will be refundable if your application is rejected.
Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope if requested. Many shows require this so they can notify you of acceptance or rejection. They have the right to keep your photographs or slides if you fail to include a SASE. Some promoters may want to keep your photographs or slides to be printed on promotional material for the show.
Send everything in a neat package. Initial impressions are important. A neat package says, "here is a jewelry designer who cares about themselves and their work". It gives a much more favorable impression than a crumpled up old stained envelope with the address scribbled in pencil. The envelope need not be typed, but it should be neatly address and should include your return address.
Your application sends a clear message to the show organizers. You want to make a good impression. Spend some time and money on your presentation — this is not an area for shortcuts.
What Does it Mean When A Juror Says No?
Considering the large number of applications submitted to juried shows, the competition is going to be stiff. Show organizers and promoters choose jurors from various craft media and business backgrounds, what was rejected from one show may very well be the first one accepted at another. Perhaps your work was poorly represented in your slides, a little investment with a professional photographer may boost your chances of being accepted.
Organizers are always looking for pieces that are new and unique, something fresh and innovative; don't submit work that is similar to what is already out there.
More often than not, rejection can be based on nothing more than logistics. For instance, there is only five openings for jewelry designers and twenty-five apply. It is estimated that more rejections are based on facts that have nothing to do with you or your work than those that are. Usually once someone's work has been accepted, they have first dibs on next year's show without even been juried. Therefore, if there are 250 spaces available and 200 past exhibitors decide to participate again, that only leaves 50 spaces to compete against in the juried shows.
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