Larry, I also come from a commercial background and work mostly in
gold and platinum and precious stones with silver thrown in for some
of the lower price points. To make a case for doing shows is quite
easy for me, not only from an ego stroke point of view ,but also from
a financial point of view. First lets take the ego point of view.
Designing a piece for a show lets you have complete freedom of
design, aside from cost considerations. You can design that edgy
piece that you were never sure you would sell. The show piece is
strictly to satisfy you as a designer and craftsman. That's a pretty
heady feeling right there and can often lead you to new directions
that you would not have otherwise followed. If your piece is
selected for a juried show you feel a certain validation to your
concept and craftsmanship. If your piece was not selected for the
show you have to understand it probably just did not fit in with the
juries vision, or your slides weren't good enough, or some other
unknown. I am sure you can find justification that will not bruise
the ego too much... enough about the ego stroke.
Ok now lets look at the financial rewards which are, as far as I am
concerned, legion. I speak from my own experience here. I entered my
first art show in Dec 1999 with two pieces I designed specifically
for the show. I felt neither piece was very commercial and both I
was pretty sure I would one day have to eat. I could not have been
more mistaken. One, a large south sea pearl set in white and yellow
gold, I sold at the show for $2,300.00. The customer who bought it
has since spent over $20,000 with me in the last three years. I also
have another client that found me through the same show. She comes to
each and every show I have in my own gallery/studio. I do day shows
twice a year. This second customer buys from one to two pieces of
jewelry at each show... not always from me but for someone in the
show I am hosting. The last show in the Spring of this year we got to
talking about how she found me and her commitment to buying studio
designer jewelry. (This is a true story)the customer related to me
how she always had bought her jewelry at commercial jewelry stores
and was unaware of the existence of studio jewelers. She had gotten
an invitation to the Dec. 1999 show and had gone out of curiosity.
She could not believe what she saw. She was stunned to imagine that
all those years she had been buying commercial jewelry when designer
pieces were so much more for the money, better quality, better design
and certainly competitive prices. She has not bought a piece of
commercial jewelry since that day in Dec. 1999..
Ok, you say, so what about the second piece you made for the show?
Well yes, I still have that piece, and. I still have the price on it
that I had at the show. I could have sold it several times if I had
been willing to discount it. NOT a chance. This show piece, when
placed in the cases with the rest of my jewelry at a gallery, is a
people stopper. The feed back I get from the galleries, and from my
own experience, is that the gallery shows this piece more than any of
the others. No they haven't sold it, yet, but people always stop and
look at it. I think that is worth more than selling the piece. If
they stop and look at it (I have a photo of it in the Orchid gallery,
it is titled Alien Artifact) and then they ask to look at other
pieces in the case.
The whole point of this long winded reply is to say YES to shows.
they can be financially rewarding
they do raise customer and community awareness of what we do as
studio jewelers and crafts people in general
they provide a showcase for new ideas and technique that you
might or might not have pursued.
you get to see what others are doing and make contact with your
last, you get to create a growing collection of those art pieces
that you always wanted to make. They blow the customers away. Most
people can't afford them( I tend to price them at top dollar
prices)but occasionally that very special someone comes along has the
money and the desire and you just can't resist making them happy:)
all the way to the Bank.
Well, I can't believe you took the time to read all of this post but
I hope you learned something and enjoyed my story and will consider
art shows in a positive light. Frank Goss