Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jurying Handmade Art Submissions

Is "jurying" a word? My spell check doesn't seem to think so!

Last week I spent a few hours downtown at the official meeting of the Product Review Committee for the Portland Saturday Market. I am a juror.

For anyone reading this who is not a member of the PSM:
Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts and crafts market in continuous operation in the United States. The Market has over 350 vendors who generate about $8 million in gross sales annually and attract over 1 million visitors to the historic Old Town district of Portland each year. All items sold at the Saturday Market are required to be handmade by the person selling it, and a product review committee of members juries each new item against a high standard of quality.
I have been on this product review committee for the past 2 years, this will be my third season of being an official volunteer juror.

If I could share my observations on being a juror, it would go something like this:
  • it is incredible opportunity to sell my artwork at a venue that is juried by the artists themselves (as opposed to the management and organizers, let alone as compared to a venue that has no jurying whatsoever)
  • taste is relative - it makes me uncomfortable to pass judgment on other artists'/craftipersons' creations. However, the market has clear cut rules that serve as our guidelines for jurying. this makes the whole process much more comfortably objective.
  • the PSM guidelines have been mindfully crafted and evolving over the past 30 years and printed into a comprehensive booklet (which is subdivided by materials and types of work) so that any artist interested in applying can pick up this book (they can view it online as well) and see what the membership requires of them.
  • not only do the guidelines uphold a high quality of work that can be found at the PSM, they also serves to maintain peace between all the different opinions of the 300+ members of the market. this is so key- conflict resolution is actually a huge function of the guidelines.
  • the PSM book of guidelines is really intimidating. for however helpful they are to the jurors like myself, the book of rules is very lengthy and specific. I fear many potential PSM vendors are turned off by the book of rules and never bother to submit their work for jury. I think this is sad because the market is such an incredible opportunity for sales.
So, while I didn't take a picture at my meeting so you could actually see what a jury committee meeting is like... I thought I'd share a few words none-the-less.

If you are local and thinking about becoming an artist at the PSM - I say read the guidelines and jury in! Honestly this market is such an incredible opportunity for your small business!

And if you are considering submitting your work to any juried venue and looking for advice from a juror... heres my 2cents:
1. if there are guidelines - read them! honestly most failed submissions are due to applicants negligence to submit something that the guidelines clearly detailed
2. don't take failure too personally - many times the jury will have a suggestion or two for how to reapply with success. Not only can this offer you the opportunity to take your craft to the next level but it also can be very constructive and helpful for your business. That is if you don't take the criticism personally.

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2 comments:

gemz said...

We need to put this post on the PSM website!!! In bold print:)

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