Lexi’s Tips for Jewelry Designers: Juried Art Jewelry Shows

Lexi Erickson is a contributing author to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.
juried art jewelry show postcard
A postcard example from Lexi’s most recent juried art jewelry show.

Are you ready to take that big leap from small craft shows to a large, juried art jewelry show? The process seems overwhelming to many jewelry artists who are just starting out. The hundreds of designer applicants applying for the few spots can seem daunting. However, there are a number of steps that will make the process easier. It takes a lot of organization and also some money, but as “they” say, you must spend money to make money. Though many of you are gearing up for the holidays, it’s already time to be preparing juried art jewelry show applications for the upcoming year.

Creating Your Jewelry Show Booth
One of the major things to take into account when considering a juried art jewelry show is the amount of time it will take to prepare for the show. For outdoor shows, you must purchase a tent, which can be a sizable outlay of money. With display materials, posters, packaging supplies, business cards, and maybe postcards, that means more money spent before you make a dime.

It’s also fun to spend some long nights visualizing what your tent/display table will look like. What colors will you use? Will you have a theme? What do you have already and where can you purchase unusual displays to show off your jewelry? Remember that you want people to look at your jewelry, so don’t let your extravagant display overpower your jewelry designs.

Lexi's juried art show booth display
Lexi (right) and her friend Kathleen Krucoff in Lexi’s archeological-themed booth.

Perfect Your Jewelry Designs
The display is fun to think about, but the first thing you must do is make sure the jewelry designs you are submitting for your jury process are finished well. You must have excellent craftsmanship on the bezels, bails, and soldered joins, and be sure the ends are tucked under in wire wrapping, etc. On metal pieces, check and remove any fire scale, which shows up as a purple stain on the open areas of the piece.

If you notice any irregularities on your jewelry design that you are not happy with, take care of them before photography, because they will only be accentuated when magnified ten times in a photo or a hundred times when projected on a screen. (Some shows still like slides, some project CD images on a large screen, and some view images on computer screens. You don’t know how they will view your application, so be prepared for anything.) The same thing goes for fingerprints, so look at your jewelry under a magnifying glass. Doing so will help you see any flaws that would show up in the magnification of your piece on a screen.

bad example of juried art show photo
A juried art show don’t: This photo isn’t well lit, focused, or arranged, there’s debris in the shot, and a reflection on the jewelry surface distorts it.

Get High-Quality Photography
Next, you need to find a photographer who specializes in fine art/jewelry photography. You may do your own photography, but if you desire acceptance into truly high-quality, professional art jewelry shows, you will discover that everyone who gets into the shows has a professional photographer who does their work. A professional knows all the tricks to make your work look even better in the photograph than it does in person! This can be a large capital layout, costing several hundred dollars for just a few slides, but it’s worth it. To find a photographer you will like, look in several jewelry magazines and see which photos catch your eye. Most of the time there will be photographic credits given, and then you can use the Internet to find those photographers pretty easily. The money I’ve spent on professional photos (from photographers like Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist contributor Jim Lawson) has paid for itself—a good photographer makes my work come alive and that’s what gets me accepted into shows.

good example of juried art show photo
This photo of Lexi’s work is elegant and
attention-grabbing, well-focused and
properly lit, and eye catching.
Photo: Jim Lawson.

 

Be Unique
I’ve been on many juries. The process can be mind numbinghours upon hours of looking at slidesso you need to have gallery-quality pieces that are unique and different. Pieces that catch the jury’s attention, something to make them sit up and take notice, are sure winners. Different construction techniques, unusual combinations of materialssomething out of the ordinary will get a jury’s attention every time.

You may know your jewelry is beautiful, colorful, and well designed, but the judges have never seen your work in person. Unless there is something about your photographs that really catches their eye, you may be passed over. Don’t miss out because your photos are not well lit, crisply focused, artfully laid out, attention grabbing, and professional looking. And you don’t want to grab their attention only to have cat hair in the background of your photo! You have ten seconds or less to make the judges love your jewelry designs enough to put it in a high-quality, top-notch jewelry art show or gallery. Use everything you have to say, “Here I am! Look at my unique art jewelry! It deserves to be in your show!”

Get Inspired
Easier said than done sometimes, right? If you need a little instruction or inspiration to get you started making eye-catching silver jewelry designs that make it into juried shows and galleries, check out Lexi’s metalsmithing videos. They will help you master many gallery-quality jewelry projects that jurors love to see. You’ll learn how to create wearable art jewelry designs featuring details that will set your work apart. And most importantly, good luck!

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