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Jewelers & Exhibitions

The recent post about the upcoming SNAG exhibition got me thinking
about my woeful ignorance pertaining to exhibitions in general. I
have only done a couple of exhibitions and I struggle with the
concept of it. Perhaps it is because I don’t come from the art
school tradition of jewelry making. I would like to have some
discussion as to the advantages of doing exhibitions.

Why do jewelers do them? Is it just another way to get your work
out to the public? Is it to stimulate general interest in art or
specific interest in your work? Or, is it so much ego stroking?
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ego
stroking, but at what point do those of you who do exhibitions think
it is economically appropriate to do that? Am I totally missing the
point by bringing in economics into the picture?

Personally, my work is expensive. I work in gold, platinum, colored
stones and diamonds. I can’t really afford to have a piece out for
months at a time unless I think it is going to reap me some
financial benefit. I can take a knockout piece to 3 or 4 shows
during the time a lot of exhibitions run.

I know of many jewelers who do exhibitions but don’t do design
contests. I have done a couple of exhibitions and a number of
design contests. I know that the contests I enter will bring me
some publicity and prestige even if it brings no sales. I am not so
sure with exhibitions. Is it just that I don’t know of the right
exhibitions to be in? If so, what are the top exhibitions to be seen

Once the exhibitions were done I felt that there was little more
they could do than be so much filler for a resume. Perhaps it is my
competitive nature that feels that winning a design competition is
better or more advantageous for me than being in an exhibition, but
I feel there is more impact saying to a client or gallery that I won
"such and such" design contest than saying I was in "so and so"
exhibition. Not that I’m trying to say design contests are any
better than exhibitions, per se, just that I can more easily justify
it to myself.

What say ye?



personally, i have not been accepted into many exhibitions i have
applied for! but…i keep on trying for one main reason: entering
exhibitions gives me a good opportunity to make things differently
than i normally would. in addition, most exhibitions offer the items
for sale! when an exhibition comes up that interests me, it gives me
a framework within to work. it gives me a challenge, whether it be a
design challenge or a techinical challenge or just a thought
framework for me to deal with. i find this interesting and fun. and
really, it is so exciting to come up with a piece that i would never
normally make.

joanna gollberg

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.

  1. they can be financially rewarding

  2. they do raise customer and community awareness of what we do as
    studio jewelers and crafts people in general

  3. they provide a showcase for new ideas and technique that you
    might or might not have pursued.

  4. you get to see what others are doing and make contact with your

  5. 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

Dear Frank: I can’t agree w/ you more. I’ve worked in dichroic
glass pieces, mostly cabs, & have been in business for 7 years now.
In the past year I have made some elegant, unusual pieces (I love
"pushing the envelope w/ my designs) using dichroic glass w/ unusual
faceted beads, pearls etc. They are the first to go at a show, much
to my amazement. Of course I’m thrilled since this is the wonderful
to create. My focus is to have something for everyone as well.
Thanks for your input. The shows are alot of work but well worth
monetarily & personally…Audie’s Images (Glass Art)