Do you want to apply for a craft fair or design show but don’t know where to start?
Want to learn from the people who make the decisions?
Of course you do!
In this exciting guest post I asked 8 organisers of the top craft and design fairs in the UK for their own tips to help you to apply for a craft fair or design show, including Contemporary Craft Festival Bovey Tracey, Crafty Fox Markets, Gifted, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Handmade in Britain, Made London & Made Brighton, The London Design Fair (Tent and Superbrands London), and Top Drawer / CRAFT.
CONTEMPORARY CRAFT FESTIVAL BOVEY TRACEY
Sarah James, Managing Director of The Contemporary Craft Festival, Made by Hand Wales, and Nourish Festival
The Contemporary Craft Festival, takes place from 10 – 12 June 2016, is one of the largest and finest craft events, attracting over 200 makers and 10,000 visitors to the idyllic setting of Mill Marsh Park in Bovey Tracey on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.
As well as representing the very finest British making there is a full programme of workshops, demonstrations, talks, cinema and new this year, The Great Festival Pottery Showdown with guest potters from the hit BBC 2 Pottery Throwdown. Held every year in June, the show is for consumer and trade. Recent exhibitors include Brett Payne, Wayne Meeten and Tanya Ufer.
How to apply for Craft Festival Bovey Tracey? Online application with short description + 6 images of recent work. Applications open late September, deadline early November.
Made by Hand Wales, will take place this year in Cardiff from 3 – 5 November 2017, and is a beautiful show set in the impressive City Hall in the centre of Cardiff. Around 135 makers from across the UK sell to an audience of over 3,500. A relatively new event, having started in 2014.
Made by Hand is highly selective, offering a selling opportunity complemented by a comprehensive programme of workshops for all ages, demonstrations and masterclasses. Held at the end of October/early November annually, the show is for consumer and trade. Recent exhibitors include Jin Eui Kim, Adam Buick and Helen Brice.
How to apply for Made by Hand Wales? Application closed on 4 March. For more details about Made by Hand in Wales click here.
Sarah’s top tips to apply to craft fairs:
- ‘With all our shows, your images are the most important part of your application. Send in a strong collection of work and avoid detail shots. Your images need to be in focus, well-lit and avoiding too much styling or filters as this can distract from the work. Don’t be tempted to send 6 different style of objects, even if they are individually amazing. It will imply to the selectors that you do not have a coherent visual language and won’t be able to judge clearly on the quality of your work.
- If you use models, you are advised to use professional models, hair and makeup.
- Also, as most applications are now online, do not leave your application to the last day just in case you have browser issues and problems with resizing images. The process is simple but it can catch you out if you are in a panic with only minutes left to apply!’
CRAFTY FOX MARKET
Sinead Koehler, Founder & Director of Crafty Fox Markets
Crafty Fox Markets take place seasonally, 3 times per year in a selection of venues around London. Events are consumer focused and attract upwards of 4,000 visitors over a weekend. Each market hosts around 100 traders at each weekend event (50 on a Saturday and 50 different creatives on a Sunday). The work can be described as ‘modern craft’ and is either handmade by the maker or produced on small scale within the UK. The average price point is around £22.
When & where does Crafty Fox Market take place?
Sinead says: ‘Our original venue is the Dogstar, a 3 storey pub in central Brixton, in South London. We also run markets at the Bussey Building, a nightclub / arts space in Peckham, and the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton. Crafty Fox Market run Spring, Autumn and Winter events and occasionally partner with relevant organisations (such as Etsy) to run large-scale special events at other times during the year.’
Who exhibits at Crafty Fox Market?
Sinead: ‘Our exhibitors tend to be at an early point in their career. Some will be hobbyist but most are professional artists, designers and makers. Products include jewellery, art prints, ceramics, textiles and gifts. Around 70% of the makers are from London with the remainder travelling from around the country and beyond to take part. Examples of makers who regularly take part in our events are Anna Wiscombe, Alice Shields and Sandra Dieckmann.
When & how to apply for Crafty Fox Market?
Sinead: ‘Application deadlines vary. Up to date details can be found on the Crafty Fox Market website and social media for each event series. The applications are open around 2 – 3 months prior each event. There is a simple application form to complete, which asks for a link to your website or online shop. If you don’t have an online shop, then you can email 3 images of your work. For each season of events, we work with an invited guest curator to select the traders.’
Sinead’s top 3 tips to apply to Crafty Fox Market:
- ‘Make sure your photography shows off your products effectively. With lots of applications to get through, decisions are made quickly and high quality photography, shot in good light, which clearly shows the product can make all the difference.
- Aim for a cohesive collection of products. Often when makers are starting out, they trial many different types of products and this can sometimes appear like a random jumble when presented in an online collection. It looks much more pleasing to the eye (& on a market stall) when there is a clear aesthetic.
- Make sure the website link you send is correct – it’s amazing how often people send incorrect links leaving us hunting around on google for their website. This leaves a bad impression and is so simple to get right.’
Clare Edwards, Director at The National Centre for Craft & Design
Back for its 6th year in 2017 NCCD presents Gifted, a two-day contemporary Christmas craft and food market will take place on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December 2017. Gifted attracts over 3,000 shoppers and visitors from far and wide each year and prides itself in providing the highest standard of craft and food makers to ensure a special and unique Christmas shopping experience.
Gifted hosts 50 craft makers from across the UK selling high quality jewellery, ceramics, textiles, glass and gifts. There’s a fun packed programme of workshops, demonstrations, musicians and exhibitions. NCCD is proud to work in partnership with Design Factory and Design-Nation to present our largest ever market in 2017.
When & where does Gifted take place?
Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 December 2017 at the NCCD in Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Who exhibits at Gifted?
NCCD welcomes applications from designer makers of all disciplines of high quality British contemporary craft and design, and makers and suppliers of high quality specialist local food produce. Gifted is synonymous with high quality creative talent and all applications are judged by a selection panel with consideration given to price, market, quality of making and standard of product.
How and when to apply for Gifted?
Clare: ‘There is an application form and we need 6 high resolution images of your work. Application packs are available to download from the NCCD website. Images should be of your work and must represent the style of work you intend to exhibit and sell at Gifted. If possible please include an image of one of your previous exhibition stands. The application deadline for this year is Friday 17 March 2017.
Clare’s top 3 tips to apply for Gifted:
- ‘Invest time and money in high quality images of your work. Ensure that the product images you send are of work that is relevant to the event, and show a cohesive range. Provide a mix of studio shots with a plain background (more likely to be used for publicity purposes) and lifestyle shots showing work in situ if possible. For example, show jewellery or fashion accessories on a model as this helps to show scale.
- We ask for an image of a previous exhibition stand so you can show us how your work is displayed as a collection. We also take note of brand identity, signage, pricing and use of display materials.
- Follow the instructions and submit your application and images as requested, and on time. Complete the form electronically rather than hand write it and stick to any maximum word count given. Ensure that you complete all sections of the form and provide as much information as possible to support your application.’
GREAT NORTHERN CONTEMPORARY CRAFT FAIR – GNCCF
Ann-Marie Franey, Director and organiser of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (GNCCF) is a selected fair, which takes place annually in October at Old Granada Studios in Manchester over 4 days. It features over 150 stands and is open to both trade and public, attracting over 6,000 visitors. The Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair is a selected table top fair featuring 38 stands.
When & where does GNCCF take place?
The GNCCF takes place at Old Granada Studios in Manchester from 12 – 15 October 2017. The LNCCF take place twice yearly at Altrincham Town Hall. The next Little NCCF will take place on 7 May, for details click here.
Who exhibits at GNCCF?
Ann-Marie: ‘Exhibitors for all our shows are selected for their high standard of work. All our shows are oversubscribed. We invite applications from makers, designers and artists working in all disciplines of contemporary craft & design.
An independent panel of craft experts, made up of makers, curators, retail buyers, academics) selects for the GNCCF and the panel changes every year. We look for high-end, cutting edge work, innovative and quirky products, gift and homeware, fashion design & accessories at all price points, though because of the high standard of work, prices tend to be at the higher range from £30-£5,000.
As well as established makers, we are keen to attract new and emerging makers, and offer cheaper stand packages for makers in business less than 3 years. We also award complimentary and discounted space to up to 30 graduates selected from the summer’s degree shows by a curator of these showcases.
Whilst the majority of our exhibitors are UK based, we also welcome applications from artists based in other countries.
Recent exhibitors include jewellers Jennie Gill, Chris Boland, Linda Lewin and Bea Jareno, contemporary embroiderer Louise Gardiner, textile artist Dionne Swift, weaver Laura Adburgham, ceramicists Emilie Taylor, Zoe Lloyd and Sue Pryke, glass artists Vinegar & Brown Paper, Julia Linstead and Janine Partington.’
When & how can I apply for GNCCF and LNCCF?
Ann-Marie: ‘You can apply online for GNCCF. Applications for 2017 are open now and can be downloaded here. The deadline is 18 April 2017. Applicants need to complete online form with business and biographical details and upload 6 images of their work. A panel of craft experts meet to select work and all applicants are notified of the panel’s decision by mid May.
For LNCCF we take speculative email enquiries and ask for 4 images and basic personal details.’
Ann-Marie’s top 5 tips to apply for GNCCF are:
- ‘Read and follow the guidelines for completing the application form. I’m amazed how few people do this and simple things like not labeling images correctly with maker’s name is infuriating when it comes to selecting and crediting images for press and promotional purposes.
- Selectors select mainly from images supplied so it’s imperative you supply high quality full-colour images (Yes, some people do apply with B&W photos!). I recommend investing in excellent photography and employing a professional photographer. We have a good PR machine with many press contacts and we use images of exhibitors’ work to promote the show in press coverage and advertising. We are more likely to get your image in the press than you are as a sole maker. It’s important to bear in mind when you select images that are ‘press ready’ for your application. Press love images on plain backgrounds that they can cut out and so do the graphic designers who create our artwork for leaflets, city centre advertising, social media banners etc. Every year we get applications with out-of-focus images, images of the wrong resolution and even images that you simply can’t tell what they are of. Applicants should show close ups of any detail eg embroidery on a cushion, as well as full product shot.
- Beware of using models in images. If you are going to use models use professional models who know how to confidently model and show off your work – be it a piece of jewellery or a scarf – and a good photographer will also know that their job is to focus on the work rather than the person wearing it! All too often we see images of work modeled by friends who look plain awkward and this distracts you from the work. Also models can prevent you seeing the detail of the work, which is what selectors and press want to see. Model shots are good to display on your stand or feature in your own promotional material.
- Don’t wait till the last hour to apply as this causes fair organisers many sleepless nights and worries over their websites crashing. Why is everyone always applying in the last two days?
- When describing you and you work for website/catalogue descriptions, refer to yourself in the 3rd person – more professional, but also include little personal touches such as what inspires you and where you work, as well as detail about the materials and techniques you use. These little descriptions help sell you as a maker and the majority of contemporary craft buyers and collectors buy your work because they also like you and your story. So tell us your story. What’s the background behind you and your work?’
HANDMADE IN BRITAIN SHOWS
Piyush Suri, Creative Director of Handmade in Britain shows
Handmade in Britain organises a variety of shows:
Handmade at Kew will take place for the 3rd time this year from 12 – 15 October 2017 in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Handmade at Kew is becoming one of the leading international showcases for contemporary craft. It’s a high-end, four day consumer event in the heart of Kew Gardens in West London. The inaugural show in 2015 saw over 7,500 visitors and 150+ international exhibitors selling a range of high-end work across all disciplines for homes, interiors, gardens, fashion and gifts.
In the last two years there were 150+ UK and international makers of contemporary craft including individuals, groups, galleries and organisations at Handmade at Kew, including Norman Yap, Niklas Ejve, pieterSZoon, Michael Berger, Peter & Sandra Noble, Maya Selway, Gavin Robertson, Taisir Gibreel, Design Factory, and Judy Bentinck.
How to apply for Handmade at Kew? The online application can be downloaded here, and requires a short description and 4 images of recent work. Stand allocation is ongoing until the deadline so makers are encouraged to apply early. Deadline for this show is 31 March 2017.
Handmade in Britain – The Contemporary Craft & Design Fair, takes place in Chelsea Old Town Hall from 10 – 12 November 2017. For the past decade, the Handmade in Britain shows have been an annual celebration of the very best of British contemporary crafts. The fairs have showcased some of the sector’s biggest talents and launched the careers of new graduates and emerging designers alike. With approximately 120 exhibitors, this show is a well-established, three-day consumer event, set to the elegant backdrop of the Chelsea Old Town Hall. The fair are very well attended (3,500+ visitors) by both trade and retail visitors.
Each year 120+ UK based individual makers of contemporary craft exhibit, including but not limited to the following disciplines: ceramics, jewellery, fashion & textiles, glass, paper, furniture, metalwork, sculpture and interior accessories.
How to apply for Handmade in Britain? You can apply online here, providing a short description and 4 images of recent work. The selection is made by an independent panel of judges. The deadline to apply this year is 28 April 2017.
Handmade Edinburgh will take place in Edinburgh for the 2nd time from 27 – 29 October 2017. Handmade Edinburgh is set to become the leading showcase for contemporary craft in Scotland. More than 150 UK based makers of contemporary craft will be selected, including individuals, groups, galleries and organisations. Disciplines welcomed are: ceramics, jewellery, fashion & textiles, glass, paper, furniture, metalwork, sculpture and interior accessories. High-end, quality handmade work for fashion, home and interiors.
The event is highly consumer oriented with many Scottish and international consumers, collectors and aficionados as well as a select audience of professionals; including those who represent corporate and public sector buyers. Handmade Edinburgh includes the participation of individual makers, groups and organisations.
How to apply for Handmade Edinburgh? To apply for Handmade Edinburgh you need to fill in an online application with short description and 4 images of recent work. Deadline 28 April 2017.
Piyush Suri top 3 tips to apply for craft fairs:
- ‘I think that it’s really important for makers to have an up-to-date, professional and well-designed website. Often we’ll have a look on an applicant’s website to see the bigger picture, in particular we look to see where makers have shown their work before and what their wider body of work looks like.
- Good photography ties into this: We assess applicants based on the strength of their applications and photographs, so it’s important that makers have professional photographs of their work, ideally cut-out shots. We also want to see examples of exactly the type of work makers will be exhibiting, so it’s a good idea to submit photos and details of the collections which they feel are the strongest and which they see working best at the event.
- Indeed, it’s great when makers show that they’ve researched the show and can see that their work would sit well with the standard and quality of the other exhibitors. It can be great to see an image of how their stand would look too. Successful applicants will often have evidence of their stands at previous shows on their websites, social media accounts or blog.’
MADE LONDON & MADE BRIGHTON – TUTTON & YOUNG
Jon Tutton, Fair Director of MADE LONDON and MADE BRIGHTON
Tutton and Young organise three MADE LONDON shows each year; in Bloomsbury and Canary Wharf in the Spring and Marylebone in the Autumn, as well as MADE BRIGHTON, the Brighton Art Fair and collaborate to organise West Dean Design & Craft Fair.
Tutton and Young organise mostly craft and design shows catering to independent designer makers selling direct to the public. The shows typically are held in beautiful historic buildings in city centres. They range from 100 spaces up to 150 spaces and attract attendances of 5,000 – 6,000 keen buyers who come specifically to visit the show, talk to the makers and buy interesting work for themselves or as presents. Tutton & Young look for the best independent makers in the UK, although accept applications worldwide.
Jon says: ‘It’s very difficult to define who we want to exhibit although we do know them when we see them. Work needs to be honest, original rather than following a trend, certainly not copying others closely. Our shows don’t have a house style, our exhibitors aren’t traditional but aren’t slaves to trends either, we’re looking for makers who push ideas or walk their own path however idiosyncratic. Quality of craftsmanship is necessary but we’d prefer to see inspired work from a less skilled maker than skilled work from an uninspired maker! We don’t particularly take sellability into account we feel that is the concern of the maker – it is engages and interests us then we’ll find a place.’
When and how to apply for the Tutton & Young events?
For up to date information check the Tutton & Young website. Applicants submit 8 images which if selected becomes an online gallery for the exhibitor. Tutton & Young also look at your website when considering your application.
Jon says: ‘We take selection very seriously and spend a lot of time researching applicants. About 2-3 weeks after the deadline the selection committee meets to choose which makers will exhibit. Decisions are initially made on the quality of the works and then the field is narrowed down taking into account how many applications in each discipline we have attracted. Every year we get a huge number of applications for jewellery, and sometimes ceramics, and so in order to balance the show we have to turn down a large number of very good jewellers or ceramicists.
However, we do also try to both give exhibitors a chance to build their customer base by exhibiting over a number of years whilst not selecting exhibitors who have done the show for a few years previously (and perhaps haven’t changed their work greatly).’
Jon Tutton’s 4 top tips to apply to craft shows:
- ‘Research the show, visit it if possible, look at the website, email previous exhibitors in your kind of line and make an informed judgement whether your work is right for the show. Is your work even applicable? For instance if you commission skilled Turkish craftsmen to produce traditional goods for your online business you probably won’t be right for us as our shows are really for named contemporary designer makers. Another more interiors-orientated fair might be perfect for your work.
- We live in the era of the Retina computer screen! The photos you submit will be viewed on the computer and then if selected will become the slideshow on your artists’ page. Not only are your photos the main part of your application, they are your initial shop window. We have exhibitors who get a lot of traffic and sales from our website before the show has started with shops, galleries, press and individuals contacting them. and the best images will be selected for use in our press campaigns. We are looking for unique and interesting work so make sure that that is obvious in your photos. We like a simple style so that we can see the work well. But also include some that the press might like e.g. with a pure white background so that they can be used in a compilation page of ‘best cutting edge craft this Autumn’ or a lifestyle shot.
- Don’t hedge your bets. Many makers produce a variety of different types of work. When choosing what to submit try to present a strong coherent range of items that although different, hang together and display an authentic ‘makers voice’. We sometimes get 8 photos from one maker showing 8 different styles of work and although some might be spot-on we don’t know what we would be getting nor is it easy to see that confident vision through so many different styles of work. So think about how work hangs together as your range.
- Lastly: if at first you don’t succeed … Don’t take it personally, don’t lash out at the selection panel and don’t (necessarily) give up. Try to analyse why have you not been successful? Is your work actually right for the show? Are you in a very crowded sector? (e.g. jewellery) Are you producing work that stands out sufficiently from the competition? Are you ready? We have had applicants who have failed to get into our shows over a number of years but over that time have grown more confident in their work, found that confident ‘original voice’ and now are core exhibitors with us.’
LONDON DESIGN FAIR
Emily Ward, Marketing & Communications Manager at London Design Fair.
The London Design Fair, including Tent & Super Brands London, present the largest collection of international exhibitions, designers, brands, country pavilions and galleries in one destination during the London Design Festival from 21 – 24 September 2017. Located in the creative heart of East London in the Old Truman Brewery, Tent & Super Brands London is a four-day industry event that brings together 450 exhibitors from 29 countries, including independent designers, established brands, international country pavilions and galleries.
The London Design Fair is one of the top destinations of the annual London Design Festival with over 25,000 visitors, including retailer buyers, architects, interior designers, press, designers and the design savvy public who attend to see and specify the very latest furniture, lighting, textiles, materials and conceptual installations from around the world.
Who are London Design Fair exhibitors? Exhibitors are selected based on creativity, aesthetics, skill & innovation. The British Craft Pavilion will show the best designer makers. Tent London hosts a wide range of disciplines including furniture, lighting, textiles, materials and conceptual installations from around the world. Recent exhibitors have been: Sebastian Cox, Sue Pryke, Lorenzo Cereda, Smile Plastics, Daniel Schofield and Dome Studio.
How do I apply for Tent or Super Brands London? Emily: ‘We have reduced our application form this year to a few simple questions, which you can find here on our website. The team have a weekly Selection Meeting and speak personally to all successful applicants. As a company we are very proud to work with such an array of talent and each application is juried on a ‘case by case’ basis.’ The application for the British Craft Pavilion closed in February.
Emily’s top 3 tips to apply for Tent or Super Brands London:
- ‘Good professional photography is a MUST! It really is the best way to get the most from any exhibition or event you take part in. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet all the visitors at the show, but your products will be more likely to be used in Marketing & PR activities for the other 361 days of the year. I would highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to do this: beautiful products deserve beautiful photography.
- Invite your clients. Invite everyone you have ever done business with or would like to in the future. A trade show is the ideal place to arrange meetings to show off your latest collections. Treat the show like your pop-up office for the week and tell your audience and clients where you are.
- Plan your stand. You want to show your products off to their true potential – a cost effective way to do this is to paint and brand your stand. (A handy hint is to layout your stand in the studio with masking tape before you arrive for build up – it is a great way to see how many products to bring and will save you a lot of energy in the long run!)’
TOP DRAWER / CRAFT
Alis Clement, Exhibitor Liaison at Top Drawer/CRAFT
Top Drawer / Craft is the leading interiors & gift trade show, which gathers together over 150 designer makers, organisations and groups, providing them with unique access to an audience of over 15,000 UK and international trade buyers.
Alis says: ‘Our Craft exhibitors make a unique and positive contribution to Top Drawer and Home London trade shows, which take place at the same time in the same venue, by presenting a variety of high quality, selected handmade contemporary products from ceramics and jewellery to textiles and homeware.’
When & where does Top Drawer / CRAFT take place?
The next Top Drawer / CRAFT will be at London Olympia from 10 – 12 September 2016, and then 14 – 16 January 2018.
Who exhibits at Top Drawer / CRAFT?
Alis: ‘Our exhibitors are those who have demonstrated a clear knowledge and understanding of the making process and the provenance of materials used, and in particular who have given consideration to the commercial viability of the work, both in terms of its pricing and appeal to a retail audience.
Top Drawer / CRAFT seeks to achieve an interesting mix of work which will appeal to a broad range of trade and professional buyers. Our most recent exhibitors include ceramicist Alex McCarthy, jeweller Sarah Straussberg, furniture designer Felled Light, glass designer BTU Studio and organisations such as Design Factory and Emergents.’
When and how to apply for Top Drawer / CRAFT?
Alis: ‘You can apply online and by post. In the application we ask about you, your work and what you will present at the show. We require 6 professionally shot images including an image of a recent stand. Your application must be accompanied by a completed exhibition space contract together with £150 deposit cheque. Submissions are judged and selected on a monthly basis. There is limited available space in each discipline so applying early is essential.’
For new exhibitors there is an option to show as part of the ‘Spotted’ section, which is a smaller exhibition space at an affordable rate.
Alis’ 3 top tips to apply for Top Drawer / CRAFT:
- ‘Understand our audience – We get applications from creatives who have not properly considered the audience our trade shows attract. Unlike consumer retail events Top Drawer / CRAFT is an order-taking trade show for professional buyers, shops, galleries and museums. Just like our buyers we are looking for new, exciting, highly creative work from makers who have considered the commercial viability of the work they wish to present, both in terms of its pricing and appeal to the audience.
- What makes a good image? The panel’s least favourite images are when they need to guess what the product is – no camera trickery please!
- Less is more We design our application form to quickly gather the information we need to present to the panel. Keep it simple and succinct.’
So, over to you now! Good luck with your applications.
And … do let us know in the comment box below what your favourite tips is. And … if you get accepted (with our little help!) then do let us know too.