perspective from a craft fair juror

from the archives: 19.10.10

A few weeks ago, Andrea and Robert asked me if I’d help them test out the new jury system they’ll be using to select Got Craft vendors after they move to London next year. Since they receive more than three times the number of applications as they have slots, I can now totally appreciate the difficulty they face in choosing which vendors are accepted.

I was struck by a few things I hadn’t really thought about since I left Interweave Crochet and reviewed design submissions four times a year. So here are my thoughts about craft-fair applications after my one day being on a test jury:

Photographs are everything. I was surprised that a few applicants didn’t include photos at all. How were we to decide if they’d be a good fit for the show?
Photos should be appropriate to an application. A few applicants included very fashiony or artsy photos that were lovely as photos but that didn’t really show off the products very well. A few photos left us all confused about what the product actually was. Unless you’re applying to sell your photos at the show, please take care to include good photos of your work, and even include one of a craft-fair table you’ve designed in the past.

Even though you’re not being chosen to be a writer, please please please spellcheck your application. It takes two seconds and it really does affect the first impression you make. Please please please then take an additional three minutes and proofread your writing. Spellcheck isn’t fail-proof.

Know the show you’re applying to. Got Craft, for example, has a very distinct atmosphere and type of vendor. If your crafts are, say, more upmarket or traditional, they’ll probably fit better at a different show. And that’s okay. There are a ton of craft fairs in Vancouver. Each one is different.

Holy smokes, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing vendors for a craft fair! Andrea and Robert can’t simply accept all the vendors they love – they have to make sure there’s a good balance between types of wares (to avoid, say, too much jewelry or baby things) and price points. That means that sometimes very awesome vendors aren’t accepted. That’s some very tough decision-making. I’m glad they’re shifting to a jury system, if only because I love them both and want them to maintain their sanity!

photo via a beautiful mess

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