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Responses to 'What it Means to be Juried'
By Louis Marquette  -  a Craft Expert    about page  personal website
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What do you expect when you hear 'Juried'? I expect a show that has reviewed photos of applicants' work and workshop areas and then makes an effort to only accept those artists and crafters that do indeed handcraft their work. An extension of this expectation would include the promoter of a juried show looking into accusations of a vendor re-selling imported slave labor merchandise. Yet too often I hear them just say, 'Well, I asked and they said that it's hand made.' Is that enough? Isn't there an expectation that the promoter will go further than just asking? And if they really just don't care, is there really anything that can be done? If someone isn't willing to open their eyes to what they are being told is possibly buy/sell, are they not as guilty as a promoter who knowingly lets buy/sell into their 'juried' shows? Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish, as I've been fooled both ways myself! There are some steps promoters can take. First off, require that applicants send photos/slides of more than just their finished work and booth. Ask for photos of their home workshop or studio and of their raw supplies and even works in progress. You can go one step further and require applicants to send a few copies of RECENT supply invoices. These 2 steps will ensure that they make at minimum SOME of their items, but they may still have retail merchandise mixed in with their display come sales day. The only way to truly have a Juried show is to again go around before the show opens and verify that all vendors have put out only hand made items. More importantly, if you required them to list each type of item they would be selling, that this is followed. Otherwise you end up with the Artist on the corner that also sells Jewelry, Dips, and Candles, yet neglected to mention it. Now, not all promoters have the time or skill to play 'spot the import', but just this week I heard of a GREAT SOLUTION! I've heard a rumor that the large August street fair in Lititz, PA ( about 1,000 crafters sell at it ) will be paying professional crafters to walk the show and weed out the garbage' It's nice to see a promoter take an interest keeping up the quality of their show.

I recently wrote the above segment about what it means to be a 'Juried' show and got the following responses:

I recently wrote about what it means to be a ‚€˜Juried‚€™ show and got the following responses:

So as an artist and now a promoter, I do try my best to jury the art work that comes in, and we ARE fooled by made up pictures of work area's, of receipts sent in, we have tried it all different ways and look for better ways to do it. We have complaint forms or comment forms for artists to fill out and speak up. However and I won't generalize as some have in here, some of us try to give good accounts, and are willing to make concessions, and I have had artists leave when I see that they are buy sell and misrepresented themselves, however if I or my workers miss someone, artists wait until the end of the show to tell us of someone, and that does no good, we need to hear right up front, at least I appreciate it. I have gone to shows to jury some of the artists and also have had pictures sent in and it was not even their work? Why people do this, who knows, there are always a few that spoil it for the rest, however it hurts for some that have written in, to generalize and say all.

Serious art festivals would be well advised to join groups like NAIA (and attend their Directors Convention) and in Florida the Florida Festival and Events Association or your local applicable ones. It is our experience that art festivals who belong to these groups and network among themselves address the issues in your email in a highly professional and effective manner. For those festivals advertising is really advertising and our enforcement of "buy/sell" is real - artists who think otherwise don't know what goes on behind the scenes and are making uninformed accusations.

There is a big difference between "juried fine art festivals" and "art & craft shows" - good artists know the difference and apply accordingly. I have been selling my work for 20 years now at juried and un-juried shows and unfortunately, many juried shows will allow items in that look very much like retail items where the original label was simply removed and replaced by the vendor selling the item. A significant number of show committees or individuals who run shows do not check or verify that the items are actually made by the crafter of record. Since they make their money from the booth fees, not all, but many of these committees or individuals sill try to fill as many spaces as possible taking anyone claiming that their work is original when it is obviously not. One Xmas show that I stopped doing a few years ago started off only accepting crafters whose items were actually made by the crafter of record, but by the third year, the person running the show had obvious retail items in the show: vendors selling plastic toys and kits for children which could be purchased in any retail store and individuals selling work that could not be described as anything other than extremely poor quality junk. At the end of that particular show, many of the crafters like myself who actually made their items were complaining about the retail items and the fact that retail items were allowed at all. As for shows that allow individuals to sell work made in other countries, personally, I still feel that the items should be made by the crafter selling the items at the show and they should be priced accordingly. Another show I attended had a booth directly across from me selling handmade sweaters made outside of the U.S. for $30. The sweaters that I was selling were made on a manual knitting machine (not electric), but the yarn was handspun and hand-dyed by myself. I purchase my wool fleeces (and other fibers such as alpaca, llama, mohair) directly from local breeders of these animals and process the fiber myself (washing, carding, dyeing, handspinning, knitting by hand and manual knitting machine). My vests and sweaters were priced from $140 to $275 each with 25-40 hours of my work and time in each sweater or vest. I couldn't compete against the vendor across from me selling sweaters at a fraction of the price of my sweaters. I no longer participate in that show. As someone else who responded to your newsletter said, I want to be on a level playing field.

Now before I apply for a show, I ask about the other types of crafts that will be sold and then base my decision on the response I receive.

Great article on What it Means to be Juried! This has concerned us for several years. We have one promoter who does require 4 photos of work in progress as part of their juried requirements. This works well for us. However, there has been one particular vendor who either has a shop or an outlet for ready made foreign clothing articles. This is about 90% of her inventory. The other 10% are childrens clothes she makes. The items that sell are from the 90% ladies clothing. I assume she gets by because of the 10% crafter made childrens clothing. Is this fair? She has been in evidence at a least 4 of the shows we have participated it.

My company is one of those dreaded "resellers" that everyone seems to have a problem with. However, I hold my head high that we do provide artists, handmade crafters from West Africa an opportunity to increase the overall quality of life for themselves and sometimes a whole village because I buy and sell their products. These truly gifted artists would never have the resources to access to the American consumers who have more discretionary money than any other country in the world. I only deal with individuals who "make" their products. Everything we sell is unique and original. By representing my African creative counterparts I have helped families move from a shanty into a house, I have helped children go to school rather than be uneducated, I have enabled individuals to seek otherwise unattainable medical help. Therefore, as an importer who is making a difference, I am disheartened many times when a show is reserved only for the artists who can be present at the show. I am disappointed when they specifically lash out at importers and lump us in a group and infer that we are pariahs. I understand the need to provide a forum for "real" artist", however I dare you to look at the work by my artists and tell me this is not real art because it is an import. God does not give us all the gift of artistic talent. Some of us are meant to support the world of arts and crafts. Rather than shut out every importer, some of these juried shows should look beyond their prejudices against imports and truly see the whole picture, literally and figuratively. By the way, I have pictures of my artists in the process of making their art and I have telephone numbers so the artists can be contacted and he/she can give a rating of how my company is compensating them. (I would provide calling cards) I am not involved in an import enterprise that is further disadvantaging misfortuned individuals nor am I promoting mass produced junk. I think the catagory of import should be evaluated differently. If someone is representing true artist who cannot be here due to financial hardship and native country restrictions, there should be a different level of evaluation. What is the difference between an artist from Europe, Asia, or Africa who visits here for the show but doesn't have residence here. They are selling art from a foreign artist just the same as I would. The only difference is these artist are more economically advantaged. Their presence does not make their art any more purely made than that of my artists. Thanks for letting me have a forum to express my opinions. If you have any influence with the art shows that band all who are not the artist, maybe you could share this side of the argument.

The imports are very, very hard to deal with. Being new to craft shows, I received many compliments on the hand painted signs. We own a tree farm and cut all the wood by hand. Really, we have a band saw that cuts the wood. Many people question this until I show them a picture with my husband and myself at the saw with a large log! They feel a real understanding and shock to see that we painted and cut the wood. The honesty has given us so much respect and business, they feel a truth that their hand painted sign was really done the old way, therefore more apt to purchase one. Again the real cost of a hand painted sign is off the charts but I get all my supplies for effort and keeps the mind busy. The fast is not always the best way. You make a proud connection doing it honest.

All the shows that I have participated in, even the juried shows have imports (jewelry), and all sorts of other imports. Also, the money generated from these shows is very poor. Most of the other Jewelry people are pricing items far too low to even cover their costs, and the work they put into it. I have seen some bead weaving good enough to appear in Bead & Button Mag that they are giving away for $15. So it is an industry problem. The artists are making items and giving it way. Some are showing up with tons of imports. Some say the items are "handmade", or that they made the "design", but an import is an import. The ones that sell their products for less are making the normal prices look too high. I have been very discouraged. And the ones that sell the sterling silver imports for 5 - 15 dollars are making all the money at these so called "craft fairs". They should be renamed "reseller's fair". So that is my opinion.

A few comments on juried shows........... I have been in the craft buisiness for over 20 years. I take pride in making all of the items I sell at craft shows. I promoted shows in a local mall for fives years while operating a craft store in the same mall. I take classes yearly to improve my skill levels and to learn new techniques. I dared question why pvc marshmallow guns, metal wind spinners, and commercial bows being glued onto a commercial swag where allowed into a fine art and fine craft show last July. I asked this when I was told I should not have been allowed into the show because I used a commercially made mold to pour my ceramics. I pour my ceramics, fire my greenware, hand paint and decorate every piece of ceramics in my booth. I also do free hand painted flowers on hats, skirts, vases etc. I have hand made birdhouses, recycled items that are hand painted with flowers or animals, vases hand painted along with wood benches in my booth in my booth with the ceramics. I have worked hard to create an inventory that works together well in a display. My point is this............ because we true crafters have to work hard to compete with the buy/sell items on the market we feel that the juried shows should be judged by someone that knows the difference between buy/sell and handmade.
I usually prepay for the next years show before the end of the show. Yesterday I asked for my money back for 2006 when the judging was done for ribbons and prize money. A booth with baskets purchased from Lucky Clover Trading Company took the blue ribbon and $ 500.00 prize money. I could not believe it.
Why should we have judges that do not know buy/sell from handmade?
I can't believe these people thinking the customers don't know the difference. If there are forty baskets in a booth that are exactly the same with little labels on the bottom ...................duh get a clue. I think many of the crafters have gotten tired of working against these factors and have stopped doing the juried shows... We pay more for such shows thinking they will be a better show......... finding out that the majority of the juried show promotors do not know the difference between buy/sell and hand crafted. It hurts all of us!!! Thank you for listening .

Louis, all of the shows that I promote are juried shows. We jury for original work and for balance of show. It is so important to have a balance of merchandise to insure the success of the vendor. Most promoters do not understand that the vendors are what make the shows successful. It is not the number of people in the door. If you have quality vendors, you will get quality buyers and without those two elements, the show is just a wash for everyone. Most vendors that do my shows know that I will take care of the vendor. The traffic pattern, the activity around their area, everything that will help them make a sale. I always have a waiting list for my shows. Word to the promoters....listen to your vendors. They can make you look good and help everyone make money! A balance of show is important. Only one jewelry booth unless their crafts are totally different..... I want each vendor to come back next year an tell all their vendor friends about how great they did at the show or if the attendance was down, I at least want them to say I did my best to bring them customers and they did their best by bringing me quality products. Thanks for asking...

I make and sell a number of high quality, truly handmade articles (by myself personally along with simpler items designed and made by a creative and talented 12-year-old granddaughter) and always felt a show which insists upon items actually handmade-by-the-artist should be kept exactly as they state..."this show is offered to those who make handmade arts and crafts". I make porcelain dolls "from scratch" and, in order to have a lower-end price line of items, make some vases, pots, decorator items from stoneware, porcelain, etc. Granddaughter makes a variety of beaded jewelry items and we both make fashion accessories such as purses. We do not buy "blanks", doctor them up and sell as hand made. My understanding of Juried items is that, there is a committee who has a set of rules and guidelines to follow for that particular show. Traditionally we have been confident they would choose the best handmade items available to their discriminating buying public. This committee was to choose artisans/crafters who meet their criteria within these guidelines for whatever the perameters have been set for that particular show. A Victorian show would not want primitive country and a country show would not want exotic African culture art....not because they disapprove of the art, but because the show has a particular clientele/theme in mind. These guidelines are usually clearly stated in a contract.....but seldom adhered to. The bottom line is important to the promoter, they have invested time and money into a show. But we never know who will bend the rules to gain more dealers.....and in the meantime damage the sales of their true artisans by selling booths to resale vendors.....most of which have imported lower priced/direct competition items.

I have been guided toward shows that traditionally had been high quality juried handcrafted (not by some imaginary Thai or Korean, Hispanic relative), waited on lists for two or three years, paid enormous booth rents, traveled to the show at considerable expense, only to find that 3/4 of the show was imported items. I cannot compete with this merchandise. I felt used and abused....the show promoters have laid all the rules, I have followed them, paid the fees, anticipated my art being appreciated.....those rules were broken by the promoters themselves in order to fill their expensive show and a bidding war ensues between these import selling dealers, leaving the true handcrafted items smoking in the corner without a customer in sight.

One show I did was at a convention center advertised as 600 antique and craft dealers..... and juried as such. My overhead was profit was nothing.... my losses were great. I was given many do's and don'ts......only to arrive and find I was among very few who actually had a quality product and was naive enough to believe in what I was doing. At least 75% of the show was imported items..... obviously not made by any known person of the retailer.

I agree, juried means whatever the promoter's hand-picked committee approves....but if they elude to the fact they are insisting on high quality hand-crafted artwork, they should stick to their conviction of quality and advertise to appeal to the buying public that they can be confident they are buying quality, hand crafted ware.....not knock-offs that mimic the original for a fraction of the price.

I have done juried shows where they insisted on photos showing the actual creation of whatever artistic talent you were selling.....and then insisted the artist physically be behind the counter (at the show) with the, this is a quality assured show.

BUT, the buying public soon figures this whole situation out and decides not to pay an entrance fee to look at items they can buy at your local Mexican import store, or the thousands of flea markets in the country. Attendance drops.....we, the dealers suffer, but the promoter still has their money. soap box is collapsing......good night.

HI. I am a firm believer, when it says craft and art show, that is what it means, when they let the buy -sell junkies in, and I mean junkies they are lowering &crafts. and flea market, it hits the round file with out even getting opened, all they did was waste a stamp and their time. The sooner the promoters get to know what juried means, they will have just as many venders and a lot more customers. They will also have a waiting list to get in when some one cant make or retires.

As a vendor that "resells" some items, I get tired of being told I cant be in a show because my items are not ALL handmade. I do sell handmade baby blankets, but cannot crochet fast enough for that to be the only item I sell. I agree with the one lady that wrote in about the artists in poor countries that don‚€™t have access to shows like we do. Vendors like me are doing them a service. Also, why should resellers be discriminated against? We are trying to make a living just like the crafters. Crafters are just as able to "get a shop" as resellers are. I know there is no way I can afford a my area a small shop rents for at least $1500.00 plus utilities. If the "crafters" are sooo offended by the resellers, there can be 2 areas at a show, one for "by God, genuine all handmade" items and one area for those that resell. Never the two sell side by side in peace~! Grow up people, I hate to repeat myself, but we are all just trying to make a living~!

This is a "fairy tale" if I ever heard one! These resellers are out to make a buck and that is ALL! These aren't "artists" hard at work designing something but probably little children and destitute people copying work after work after work there is no art in that just explotiation! They undercut the real handcrafted person designs who is also trying to make a living. There is probably 100 of them to one of "us truly handcrafted" How unfair is that! By buying the cheap stuff people continue the exploitation. I

've been reading the notes about "handcrafted" shows that are not. I too have seen this and would like to require producers to state the truth. What they choose is fine, but do tell us before we pay at a show! I also think that in order for all handcrafters items to be "viewed" as more valuable is to advertise and promote it that way. I too have been at "handcrafted shows" with items made in production. I think if we as a community of crafters can educate with our displays, show the process, the personal meaning...I know this has greatly helped my sales: I have little signs, pictures that show the process and then I added other notes that gives the story behind the craft. My experience has been that folks want to know about the artists too, the motivation, etc.

I felt compelled to add my 2 cents worth to the discussion on "juried" shows. Unfortunately, MANY of the shows I've attended fall into the "juried by check" category. As a long time crafter who does, indeed, make everything myself, I find it difficult o compete with the low priced imports. However, I believe that part of the problem lies with the promoter's ever increasing booth prices, which are encouraging even some legitimate crafters to include the minimal investment, quick sale, low priced buy/sell items in an attempt to recoup the booth fee quickly. Since there is no guarantee of good sales at any show, investing $200 - $300 (or more) for a booth in a show is a greater risk than many of us are willing to take. If the booth fees were a little more reasonable, more of us would be willing to invest in the shows and the promoters would be able to weed out the "crafters" whose only embellishment to their product is the addition of a price tag!

Hello- I read your email with great interest and decided to send you a few thoughts in response. Two years ago I took over as the organizer of a craft show that had been going on for 30+ years. I had participated in the show over 20 years ago as a decorative artist and remembered the "good old days" when craft shows were few and far between but were full of quality items. In the past decade, this show had started to "fizzle out" due to the inclusion of vendors with imported merchandise and salespeople with franchised items. The show maxed-out with 80 vendors on the last year the original promoters held it. I can see why promoters with non-profit status are tempted to accept vendors with items that are not hand made in that they are thinking of their organization and trying to make as much money as possible. The big flaw in that is that in the end it does not help the show in that vendors with authentic arts and crafts can't compete with mass produced merchandise and the shoppers feel bilked when they pay to get in to an "arts and crafts" show. When I took over as the organizer, I decided to change the rules. Since I was a crafter, I knew what it was like to be on both sides of the tables. I too was representing a non-profit organization but also knew that I needed to do something to bring the show back up to the status it once held. I required photos of the arts and crafts and also asked for pictures of the artists working on their projects if it was suspect. I only accepted arts and crafts from the exhibitor (or someone they knew personally and worked with) and turned down many that did not qualify. I remember that I raised some eyebrows from our board of directors and they thought I was making a mistake by turning down anyone who wanted to rent a space. But, the word got out and vendors started calling me once they got word of mouth, and I had 129 vendors (the most we could accept) and a waiting list two months before the show date! It was the same way last year and I also anticipate it for this year too. What I learned is that it is correct to have your exhibitors fit what you are promoting. If it is an arts and crafts show, it should be just that! Perhaps the people with imported merchandise can still make a living with bazaars and flea markets but they should not be accepted in bonified arts and crafts shows. I also felt it was necessary to keep a file on every crafter, with their pictures, and visit each and every booth during the show to make sure they really sold what they portrayed. I visited with each vendor and made sure they were happy. To my surprise I had quite a few exhibitors tell me that no one had every done that in any show they had participated in! They were surprised that I was even visiting each booth. I didn't expect that. It only made sense to me to get to know your vendors and make sure they were not slipping things in that should not be for sale in our show. Another thing I did when I took over was to spend a great deal more on advertising. I knew if I wanted to be in a show, I would want them to promote the heck out of it. Since we enjoy non-profit status I took advantage of it and promoted our show on TV, raidio, and local newspapers. I also paid hundreds of dollars for ads in the bigger papers to make sure our show would be noticed and to also give business to the papers that have been kind enough to promote our other fund raisers and news for free in the past. We also advertise several times in our own newsletter that is mailed to over 7,000 homes. It only makes sense to take advantage of every avenue you can. The past promoters of this show had used very nice yard signs, the week before, but I discovered that they only purchased 50 per year. I order 250 each year and make sure some of them get out to other neighboring counties. My price for the signs alone was over $700 but it was important to me to get as many people to attend the show as possible. If you have happy crafters who make a lot of money, and you have happy shoppers who appreciate the quality of the items being sold, it equals a successful show from year to year. In summary, I feel that a lot of the points in your email were proven to be correct. Find vendors that fit your type of show and stick with it. Also, don't have too many of one particular item. ( I cut off jewelry after 11 spots were rented and had to turn down many jewelry makers that didn't register in time. I stuck to my guns as I want everyone to have a chance for good sales.) It is also extremely important to advertise as much as you can. I hope my thoughts are helpful. Your free service is greatly appreciated and I have received applications from some vendors who might not have heard of us without your listing. Thank you.

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