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Tips for Applying to Juried Shows
by Cindy Edelstein

Many of the finest retail craft fairs and a few of the major jewelry shows use the jury system to select their exhibitors. Most jury every year for the available slots while a few reserve some booths for repeat exhibitors.

Here are our tips for increasing your odds of getting in:

1. Like it or not, professional photography is a must.

2. The backgrounds and the perspectives of all of your submitted slides should match.

3. Use no props unless absolutely necessary.

4. Use simple backgrounds that don't interfere with the product.

5. Fill the slide with the jewelry.

6. One item per shot is the general rule. If you've got small jewelry or stackable rings or a suite that must be shown together, okay but still follow tips 1-5. Just don't let the grouping be so large that it makes individual items appear tiny on the screen.

7. If possible, preview your slides with a projector (even a handheld magnifying projector) so that you can see what the images will look like on a screen. It's very different from a printed picture vis a vis scale and composition.

8. Send the slides in a slide holder specific to the number of slides you're sending. For example, don't send four slides in a sheet with 20 pockets. Slide holders of all sizes are available from 20th Century Plastics 800-767-0777

9. Don't make the slides difficult for the jury organizer to handle.
Example one: six slides are individually packaged so that six envelopes must be opened. Example two: four slides are put into a slide box meant for 20 slides. Example three: the slides are affixed with something exceeding the grip strength of duct tape to a sheet of cardboard.

10. Label your slides with your important basic imformation, including name, which way is up and which way towards screen (especially if seeing it left to right correctly is important). Don't do this with tape or little papers. Most labels are OK and there are even some Avery laser labels that are just the right size (#5267 - 1/2" x 1 3/4"). But most photographers and slide developers can have your name, phone number and year printed on the plastic when the slides are developed.

11. Choose plastic slide mounts rather than cardboard.

12. Never, never send originals. Always, always send dupes just in case you don't get them back. Irreplacable originals seem to generate negative energy that somehow increases their chances of getting lost. Alas, we have seen it happen.

13. Fill out the entire application and give as much info as you're allowed to. However, extra info should always be added in the neatest, least troublesome way (i.e., don't make jurors read tiny, tiny handwriting, illegible scrawling, a novel, your first art classes' review card, etc.)
14. If you are allowed to send a presentation packet of some sort make it the best assemblage you can. Press kits are fine but plastic-sleeved presentation books are better.
Caveat: 12-lb. oversized leather-bound books that need special care or special strength to lift are generally not appreciated. There is such a thing as overkill.

15. Include in your presentation package all press clippings, copies of ads, copies of award certificates or mentions, background information, artist's statement, samples of brochures or mailers, and any other printed material that shows off your business savvy as well as your design sense. Juried craft fairs often judge work solely on its artistic merits but juried trade shows often want to review the whole business package.

16. Don't send videos, CD-ROMs or other formats of information that require special equipment to view. Most jury rooms are set up with a slide projector and that's all so this other stuff is just a waste of postage to ship and an annoyance for the jury organizer to keep track of -- and jurors won't be able to view it anyway.

17. Take the deadline seriously. If it says by a specific date understand that to mean that your package should be there by that date - NOT postmarked by that date. With our postal system the way it is, a mailed package could arrive a week or more later than expected, which might also mean after the deadline date and perhaps even after the judging! Most organizers will not accept a package that arrives after the deadline. If you have any questions, always call the organizers but realize that most of the time a printed deadline is the real deadline -- especially for the more popular events which can afford to be strict.

18. If you want your materials back, always include a self-addressed pre-paid envelope (FedEx, UPS or regular mail). Most organizers will not send your stuff back without it. And use the right size envelope - if you only want your slides back then a business-sized envelope is fine but if you want your kit/book back make sure you use an envelope that it actually fits into.

19. Don't call for results if the application says they'll notify you by mail.

20. Don't question the jury's sanity (to the organizers) if you aren't chosen; designers must realize that they are among a very large and talented crowd and sometimes even though their work is wonderful it may not be their lucky day. If there are only two booths available and 20 or 200 applicants are vying for them, chances are there will be more than two worthy applicants and sometimes the chips just don't fall your way. This time. Maybe next time.

21. Never be rude to the organizers. While a jury acts independently and doesn't consider your behavior in their judging -- they shouldn't even know about any bad behavior unless they've personally experienced it -- one of your goals is to become a client of theirs and being disrespectful of them couldn't possibly help you. What if there was only one spot available and your score was tied with someone else's and all other things were equal? Think about it. Who would you give the booth to? The rude/pushy/arrogant/whiny one or the incredibly polite and friendly one?

22. Reapply when next there's a chance to; juries change routinely and your chances are never exactly the same each time. If things didn't go your way this time, they might be better next time.


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