Saturday, June 12, 2010

What, no jewelry?

I've been selling my artwork in various mediums on and off since 1990. This year I have a partner (there was one other, years ago, on the craft fair circuit - but mostly I have worked alone) and she does amazing lampwork beads. Sounds like the perfect time to really go the jewelry route. But alas, it has become more complicated. For the first time I am displaying/selling at art fairs and there is no jewelry for sale in my booth

In the last two years the whole art fair process has changed.

Background: There are soooo many people selling jewelry that apply as jewelers, and then there are the folks who apply as artists in other medium that bring along some jewelry to sell. Glass vendors are among the worst offenders - if you make a dish the scrap often makes a lovely pendant which is technically made of glass. The end result is that an art fair organizer tries very hard to keep the ratio of jewelers to EVERYONE else at a certain point, and when you walk around and count the booths selling jewelry it turns out that the ration is far worse. For example, I did a show years ago with 50 artists - 15 who had noted that they would bring jewelry. When I counted there were at least 25 folks selling jewelry - so 30% was the projected amount but 50% was the end result. This leaves the organizer two choices - put up with the angry artists who followed the rules or argue with the sly artists who decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

End Result: Anyone who wants to bring multiple categories of work needs to go through the jury process twice (at double the jury cost) even if they want a single booth. This gives the organizer the ability to selectively accept the work of any artist. In my case I would jury in as both "glass" and "jewelry". My response letter could say any of the following:
1) You are accepted in both categories
2) You are only accepted for jewelry
3) You are only accepted for glass
4) Thanks but no thanks

This seems to have helped the organizers control the situation which makes for a much fairer environment for the folks who only sell jewelry.

So, back to me. After much consideration on whether or not to double our jury fees for the potential to sell jewelry we decided to try to focus elsewhere. Rather than spending the spring waiting for our art fair responses and making jewelry that we might not be able to sell at all of our shows we decided to focus on "functional art".

So if you see us at a show ( for a list) you don't have to say "what, no jewelry?". You already know the story.

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