Friday, March 28, 2008

My Art Show Application Experience: The Booth Photo

Hello everyone! I'm back with more insight on the whole concept of applying to art shows. Previously, I've written about planning, paperwork and jury slides. This time I'd like to share a little on the topic of representing the look of your display to jurors (or judges) through top-quality booth photos.

This happens to be the first year that I've applied to a show that requires a booth shot because a) I don't really have a good one yet and b) it was another requirement that made me nervous and self-eliminate before even applying. But this year, I was determined to face new things head-on and stop being a whimp!

I edited a photo that I took of my booth a few years ago and came up with what you see in this post. A few weeks ago I attended a jury showing and saw hundreds of booth examples. My photo would not be considered the best (by a long shot). It would also not be the worst either.

I met with, Larry Sanders, expert craft photographer and one of the show's judges and asked him what is the purpose of the booth photo and what makes one better than another. He said that the purpose of a booth photo is for the jurors to see:

  1. The scale of the work that is being shown. It is often difficult to know the size of a piece and it could be a determining factor for an artist. This is not the case for jewelry however as the size of the jewelry most often can't be determined.

  2. It shows the jurors that the person applying has more than the 3-6 pieces that are usually required for jury slides. Some artists will make a few nice pieces to get into a show without adequate inventory to sell. This is bad for a show.

  3. It shows the professionalism of the display. In other words, orange crates are not very appreciated these days at shows. Nice display cases, nice shelving, nice walls are always a bonus. Curtains that cover the harsh white walls of a tent are a big help.

  4. It can be a tie-breaker between two or more equally talented artists. Favor would be given to the one with the better looking display.

  5. Some shows will actually give the booth a score that is added to the score for ranking artists.

A Few More Tips from Mama...

  • When taking your own photos, keep people and anything that identifies who you are out of the image. If I knew more about photo editing, I'd have taken the man in the yellow shirt out of my image. Dropping the sides of my tent would have also helped.

  • I recommend using for turning your digital images into slides. They are very cheap, easy and fast!

  • Use a professional if possible. Like I said about jury slides, why take chances when the only representation you have of yourself are a few images. I'll be giving Larry a call when I'm ready for my next one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm in a Treasury on Etsy!!

My very lucky friend (and designer behind KPCreations) was able to snag a coveted treasury listing on Etsy last week. For those of you who don't know, a treasury listing is place where a "curator" can assemble an exhibit of art work. Most curators assemble work based on a particular theme. My friend's theme (if you can't tell) is "girly gear" and has many moms leaving wonderful comments.

I guess my Tanzy ring was included to remind mamas to not forget to treat themselves to something nice too!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I've Been Featured... Again!

Hello and Happy Easter!

After the kids found all the eggs and I was thoroughly gussied up for church, I snuck a few minutes to check the computer for messages. I was very surprised to find out that I am today's featured artist on Haute Innovations, a fresh & innovative independent artisan showcase.

For those of you who are not aware of Haute Innovations, rush on over to check it out. You'll find something for every style and plenty of inspiring info on indie artists. I am just amazed at the site's professionalism and ability to discover new talents.

And of course, I am very flattered and honored to have been chosen!
Thanks Haute!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Allow Me to Brooch a New Subject

Some of you may remember that I have been on a little ring thing lately. For those of you who are just tuning in, check out this and this.

Well anyway, I decided to break the trend (at least for the moment) by making a brooch. I started this project last Wednesday during my class at Terri McCarthy Studios. There, I fabricated the base by texturizing sterling silver, copper and brass. Then, I soldered the pieces together and added a 5mm bezel cup to the bottom.

I finished the piece this morning at home by soldering the pin findings onto the back. I was a little nervous because I've only made one pin before and that was a few years ago. I spent a lot of time lining up the catches and pallions of solder. Once everything was just right, I got out my handy dandy torch and voila! Perfect... if I must say so myself! After I finished patting myself on the back, I added a light patina, set a black onyx stone and polished the piece.

Thought for the day: If you think something is going to be too hard, try it anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised or find a new challenge. Either way, practice makes perfect!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Surprise Weekend Work Time

I was able to enjoy some unexpected, quality work time at home this weekend. On Saturday, Papa took the kids to see the Veggie Tales movie and on Sunday, he took them to Grandpa's for the afternoon.

What did I do with this surprising gift of six hours to myself? Well after I finished my naps, I got right down to the studio and made more rings!

I seem to be on a ring kick lately for some reason. In my last post, I wrote about making several sterling silver bands out of embellished wire. I decided to stay with the simple look and made these delicate little rings. I used 14 gauge sterling silver wire and soldered it into round bands. Then I soldered on 5mm fine silver bezel cups. Next I set denim-blue lapis lazuli and black onyx cabochons. Finally, I burnished them with a brass brush and soapy water until they shined.

I was able to make one ring on Saturday and six on Sunday. Isn't that learning curve amazing!

My fingers are still sore from all of the stone setting and burnishing, but now I have a nice little ring to wear... and a few more to sell at my next show. And since I was on a roll and the boys were still out, I made a couple pair of matching earrings by soldering sterling silver earring posts onto the backs of additional bezel cups.

Not bad for a little surprise work time!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Have We Been Hit by the Plague?

I am soooo glad to be back at the keyboard!! It gives me a sense of slow victory and relief from the "germ warfare" that has been attacking my household over the past two weeks. Ailments of every kind first took over the health of my two boys, causing chaos and confusion... to the point of missing school (yikes!). Even I was taken prisoner and brought down from my top post, leaving hubby to fend for the family and dispense lots of medicine, fetch a ton of Kleenex and empty several yucky pails! Yes, the germ soldiers fought hard and dirty, but we fought harder and were dirtier... and survived!

I tell you all of this not just to gain sympathy, but to let you know why I haven't written in a little while. And now that I'm back, I do not know where to begin. I did manage to make it to my metalsmithing workshop the last two Wednesdays. I've been working on making several sterling silver ring bands to sell at upcoming shows. I like them... they're simple but with a flair, just like me! So far, I've made 15 of them in various sizes to sell for about $15 as a show special. I hope to be able to make another dozen before early April.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Art Show Application Experience: Jury Slides

I'm back with another article on my experiences in applying to art shows. I want to remind everyone that these are just my thoughts on how the whole process works. I've been applying to shows since 2005 and have been accepted to all of them, but I am in no way an expert. But I have learned a lot in these few years and I'm willing to share it with those just starting out. If you missed my first two articles on planning and paperwork, be sure to check them out.

Now, who wants to talk about jury slides??? I must admit that when I first started out, this was a fearful topic! Not only do I hate taking pictures of my work, but knowing that those images would affect my chances of getting into decent shows really had me shakin' in my boots. Actually, for my first round of shows, I intentionally refrained from applying to any that required slides. Then I began to realize that if I was going to be a serious artist doing serious shows, I had to get over it... and fast!

I began to research the topic a little and found out that the images submitted for jury are nothing like the ones you see of pretty objects in catalogs or online shops. In those photographs, items are displayed with colorful backgrounds, props, and "in action" showing suggested use. In photographs used for juried competition, objects are to be the one and only focus in the image. Backgrounds are minimal and drab; lighting, and therefore positioning, is key; and clear, sharp images that make sense are necessary. In my images shown here, it is obvious which of my pieces are pendants because a little of the chain has been kept in the photo.

In a future post, I will be walking you through an actual jury procedure, but for now it is important to know that typically a jury, or panel of judges, will see your images blown up as big as 3-feet wide. Keep that in mind! The smallest flaw on a piece might become very obvious when viewed at that size.

If you've read this far in what has turned out to be a very long post, here is just a little more to keep you busy...

Mama's tips on submitting great jury slides...

  • Ask another artist to select items from your body of work to be photographed. When we create our own work, we tend to be biased and think that every piece is the best. Get a fresh pair of eyes to help you select work from a judge's perspective.
  • Be sure to label your slides according to the shows specifications, making sure to clearly identify your name and the images proper orientation. It would really stink if you had a great slide that was shown upside down!

  • Use a professional photographer, and not your cousin who takes great wedding photos. I am convinced that some things are best done by others. So if you think that I created my own jury images, you are CRAZY. They were taken by the extremely talented Larry Sanders, who is based in Milwaukee, WI.

  • Update your images every few years or when your body of work changes significantly. Some shows are now indicating that they will check your booth to make sure that you didn't turn in images of your only five things that actually turned out.

Lastly, start where you are and do what you can. Use the jury process as a learning experience and never stop reaching higher and higher!

P.S. Shown are all of my jury images. Soon I will post about booth shots, the jury process and more!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mama is Back in Action

Hi all! Sorry I haven't written in a while, but my kids have been playing germ tag... seeing how many times they can pass the same cold back and forth. I really can't complain about their health because they are rarely sick, and even when they are they still want to go to school and church. It's just all of the nose blowing, doses of medicine and, of course, loads of special mama TLC that has kept me hoppin'.

Anyway, I'll give an update as quickly as I can while the little one takes a nap. Since my last post, I've been accepted into a wearable art show to be held on May 3rd in Shorewood, WI. There has still been no word on the other four shows that I applied to, but it's still pretty early. I'll let you know how it goes as I get the results, or you can check the "events" page on my website for more details.

I also had another metal smithing class last week at the Terri McCarthy Studios. During my second class, I met more people and got real friendly with the jump ring tool. Never again will I have to pay the high price for retail jump rings because I have figured out how to make my own. I made up several rings using 16 guage sterling silver wire and a #5 mandrel.

This gave me the opportunity to try a pattern in a book for a byzantine link chain. Here is a picture of my progress. Not too bad for the first time. In class, I also made a sterling silver disk pendant with a wide tube bail. It will look perfect on the chain when it is finished... if I must say so myself!