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[Resource] Fine art and craft shows


Some resources to go to to educate yourself and learn about how to
do shows, get into shows, be successful at shows, help shows be more
artist friendly. (And the usual disclaimer that I have no financial
involvement with any of these sources, I just know them to be good.)


Steve Meltzer
Writes for Crafts Report, knows his stuff.

Larry Berman:
Can help with ZAPP issues, digital images. His website has free
tutorials for those who want to do it themselves. He and his website
are tremendous resources for all show/zapp/digital questions

Consumer Reports of shows:

Art Fair Source Book: This is the
place to learn about shows. It also has a free (you must sign up)
forum that is chuck full of helpful about shows, artists
to help explain the ropes to newcomers, etc.

Read more about it:

Crafts Report: It can be a bit uneven in
the writing but it is the only trade journal for show artists. Bruce
Baker and Steve Meltzer are great in their knowledge. Their 2 columns
are worth the subscription price.

Learn more about selling at a show:

Bruce Baker: Read his columns, listen to his
cd’s, take his seminars. Art needs to be sold these days. We can’t
sit in the booth and expect our work to sell itself. Bruce tells you
how to do it.

Want to sell wholesale?

American Craft site: The forum attached
to this site has many helpful artists on it, who can guild a newbie
thru working wholesale shows

Want to make the show system better for artists?

NAIA-National Association for Independent Artists: This is the “trade” organization for show
artists. They are very proactive and always need $ and more members.
They have just finished a show directors conference where they
educated the show directors on the realities of show artists lives.
They have fought to keep jury fees reasonable, to standardize the
application system to make artist lives easier, to make sure shows
have a refund policy for booth fees. And that’s just the start of
NAIA’s work.

Their forum is excellent but you must be a member to access it.

I’m sure there are other resources for show artists. But these are
the best ones in my book. There is a wealth of info here.



Hi Carla,

I just wanted to drop a note to thank you for posting your
recommended links. It came at the right time as I am considering the
possibility of moving out of doing more commercial goldsmithing for
retail jewelers and into focusing on my own work that better
reflects my own interests.

The links that you kindly took the time to post will be a big help
in the lengthy process that might get me out of one business and
move me into a new one.

I do have one, maybe silly, question. I have noticed that most
metalsmiths who do shows seem to work very hard to create an
identifiable look in their line. So much so that anything they make
is immediately recognizable as theirs (and in many way I like that).
Is this practice something that many have come to believe is
necessary for success? Or is it something that is created by an
unspoken peer pressure of other artists, like you need a look to be
accepted into the tribe? Are people taught that, for marketing
purposes, you need a look that creates a brand?

I ask because I have spent years making anything anybody wanted, and
I would tend to create a wide ranging body of work. My thinking
would be that it would keep me more interested and tend to appeal to
a broader segment of the public. What would the arguments be against
such a line?



Hi Mark,

I don’t think that is a silly question.

My experience is that the public has to see a group of something to
"get" it. A dazzling array of non related creations will be
difficult to display and market. The jury process does not seem to
reward diversity either. When I was doing shows and now, in the
display of my designs in my gallery, I try to work in "collections"
and to display related pieces in groups together.

Selling is such a different thing than making.




I do have one, maybe silly, question. I have noticed that most
metalsmiths who do shows seem to work very hard to create an
identifiable look in their line.

This is such a great question and one I struggle with daily.
Metalsmithing to me means a wonderful collection of tools and
techniques, so every day is an adventure as I try something new &
different. Eeeeeeee-ha!

But in jury slides and in your case at a show this shotgun approach
to work, starts to look like a series of happy accidents, or maybe a
piece of work from every workshop you took. And as Janet says it
confuses your buying public and makes it very difficult to get into

I have on my computer & on my workbench the phrase “A consistent
body of work.” I have purposely limited myself to 1-2 shapes and the
technique of fabrication. If you go visit my website you will see
the remnants of some of my digressions on it, but soon my web guy
will delete those & my site should show more consistent work.

While I sometimes mourn the passing of my flighty ways (and
sometimes digress into them) I know that ultimately my work is
getting better as I delve deeper into one subject matter and hone my
skills to make it work.

And example of very tightly focused yet incredible work, would be
Todd Reed’s work with industrial diamonds. Who knew such a humble
stone could be the basis of such creative designs. Those designs
come from his focused approach (and his talents). If he was skipping
lightly over the top of several techniques I doubt he would have
developed the work he did.

As to my audience…yes I have had a nice group of people buying
my work, wherever it took me. But I think I can command more $ for
better designed pieces & people will be willing to spend more. It
make take a while, but I am willing to take this risk. I think the
deeper one goes in exploring one style the more innovative you
become as you put your time and energies into really developing that
work. This is more about being an artist, then being a metalsmith.




In my humble opinion, I think an artist needs to make what they like,
stay true to their interests, otherwise it shows in the final piece
as something that just wasn’t quite right with them. Some artists
like doing something along a similar line, their work all has a very
similar style. Others (like me), have a different brain and that
brain is always thinking of very different things. There is no way
that I could just stick to one style. If it interests me, I make it.
Simple. There are a few things by which I could define much of my
work, but in the end, my cases are filled with a wide variety of
work. At the show I did this past weekend, I was able to wander
around just a bit, and there were plenty of jewelry booths to peek
at. Most of them did work with a very singular style. I’m certainly
NOT saying there’s anything wrong with that, believe me. I’m just
saying that I don’t think it’s wrong to work in the other direction,
so long as the customer knows that eventhough your styles may differ
from piece to piece, the quality is there & the design sense is
there, those things need to be counted on. And on top of that, they
can then count on an ever changing variety of things to choose from!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher