A Conversation with Wendy Rosen
| Wendy Rosen is the founder of the Rosen
Group which puts on the
Buyers Market of American Craft (BMAC)
since 1982. It's the
nationís largest wholesale craft trade show.
| Why the Jury System is Flawed
| The standard craft show jury system does not
allow for the revelation of whose work youíre looking at, and so you could
be looking at derivative work made by someone whoís actually copying the
original designs of someone else. Thatís the first reason.
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| The second reason is that sometimes
photographs of great work look terrible and photographs of bad work looks
great. The photographs are not always representational, and the worst
thing that an artist can do is take their own photographs.
Out of the 100 slides that I see, only three are probably what I would
call a glamour shot, the rest are ordinary shots. About 60 percent are
ordinary shots, and then youíve got 35 percent that are horrible shots.
The glamour shot is the shot that can actually be used for public
relations and advertising for a show, and thatís the kind of shot that
gets through the jury.
What I consider to be a glamour shot is that itís looks like itís been
professionally taken with good lighting so that the texture comes out. The
dimensional nature of the item is there and the color is correct. There
are a million things that go into making a great photograph, but the
difference between a great photograph and a good photograph is that there
are so many good photographs out there that it isnít really a guarantee of
getting into the shows. Youíve got to have something great in order to get
into some of the more competitive shows.
| Researching and Jurying
| My show doesnít work that way because if
I see bad photography or work that I question in any way, howís it made or
what the color is or the dimensions of it, I can make a phone call. Mine
is a transparent jury situation.
My jurors are a community inside the office that initially reviews the
applications. I then look at the application very, very carefully because
there are people who want to exhibit in some shows that are not really
qualified. I have to make sure that all of their processes follow what our
rules and regulations are as defined as to what an American craft is.
I need to know what their commitment to business is and what their goals
and objectives are in getting into this show. I need to know what their
experience is and whether or not itís a really good idea for them to
exhibit now or maybe wait until theyíve gone to a business institute or
learned a little more about the wholesale side. The worst thing that can
happen to me is that an artist would actually have a problem and not make
their expenses and be able to afford their next show. I am relying on a
long term relationship because it costs me a great deal of time and
energy, and sometimes it takes us years to mentor someone to a point where
theyíre really ready to do the show, and we donít want them doing that
show before theyíre ready. We donít want them to fail.
My criteria is that itís hand-made to our specifications. Sometimes, the
specifications are more strict than other shows, and sometimes they are
less strict than the actual made in America requirement by the government.
Here are two examples of our requirements. Someone whoís creating a piece
of jewelry, and the focal point of the piece of jewelry is a fine carving,
they may get into many retail craft areas but will not get into our show.
Because in our show, the focal point of a piece of jewelry or another
piece of craft, must be something made by hand fabricated. And in the case
of etched glassware, if the glassware is made in America, but not made in
a studio, then the exhibitor can exhibit with us, but cannot identify
themselves as hand-made glassware. They have to say ďetched.Ē
There are many ways to get around the jury system. You can send in
multiple applications. You can send your slides ahead for review by a
juror to get their opinion, even though youíre not supposed to do that.
There are all kinds of devious ways that people get around a jury system.
Iíll look to see whatís on their web site. Then Iíll call and ask
questions about their process, where they went to school, who mentored
them, and what their goals and objectives are. You get a much better
understanding of where that person is in their life and why they want to
do your show.
So when these artists apply to my shows, theyíre in as long as they want
to be in as long as they donít have unresolved problems with buyers. Weíve
had situations where someone takes deposits, and then doesnít deliver.
Things of that nature are very important for us to deal with.
notes when Iím walking down the aisles. With 1,600 booths, I
cannot do on-site jurying, but we tweak things and gather information. I
do a review of the show generally in the morning and very late in the
afternoon. Iíll go look at things, and I will try to greet as many of the
new exhibitors as I can, and, but when youíre dealing with 1,600
exhibitors, thatís kind of hard to do. I often donít get to everyone whoís
new in one show. Itís only the new ones that I really need to see. The
regular ones are generally okay, and I will get a report from another
exhibitor or from one of my floor managers if theyíre not. We have
specific exhibitor relations people in each category.
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| The Internet
| I communicate with people on Facebook,
LinkedIn, and Twitter. So I am online and looking at web sites all day
long. When an artist, one that I donít even do business with, sends me a
question on something, I answer them. I had one from London the other day.
ďHow do I sell in the United States?Ē So I write them a note giving them
five or six resources to that will help them out pointing to mostly online
| Final Advice
| My advice to artists looking to do my show is
that they go to the
Business Institute or come and visit the show first, and I
recommend that for any show you want to do. You should see it, touch it,
feel it, and be there as an attendee before you decide to spend the money
to exhibit. Then
make sure to have an original line of work.
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