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Stephen

Adding A 2Nd Medium To Booth

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I am adding wood to my booth and trying to formulate an approach. I get that I need to jury in on both clay and wood and I am making up some banners that show the handmade process on both mediums to drive home the point that nothing is buy sell. Beyond that I am trying to decide whether to mix the two together on my shelves or separate the two into their own display space.

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Ya know I will update this post toward the end of the month when I am pulling it all together and make my new jury shots. I have been 1 of 2 for the past 5 years in pottery and now I am putting together my own booth. If it helps the first wood products added will be cutting boards, small dresser boxes, mirrors etc. 

 

Much like pottery, it will be a matter of prototyping and then adding a dozen to inventory to see how things sell. My first booth hitting in October will have mostly pottery and some cutting boards and I will likely add a small keepsake, jewelry boxes shortly after and then roll out both pottery forms, mixed media and pure wood items on an ongoing basis. I will be trying to keep up a 2-3 show a month routine over the next twelve months so I can change if up if I need to.

 

The big decision at first was whether to do separate shows in each medium but I decided that since I don't do the top tier art shows that I would try to jury into the smallish shows I do ($50-$200 booth fees) with a combined booth. Most of these shows claim being they are juried but mostly I think they are just policing the shows trying to keep buy/sell out and all products locally made by local artist and craft-persons. Everything is designed by me and made by me from raw materials (no kits) and it will be much easier for me to produce for one booth, not to mention the hassle of separating out names and such. I've never seen the approach with these exact two mediums but have seen pottery/watercolors, pottery/photography so I am sure there is a pottery/wood combo out there.

 

Would love any input on combining mediums in the same booth if anyone here has or is doing something similar.

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Just my opinion, I wouldn't try to put two mediums in one booth. There just isn't enough room. It will be confusing to the customers, and it sends a bad message. You will impress a lot more people with a "there's only one thing I love to do" message than a "I like to dabble in different things" message.

 

The only way I can see it working is if the two bodies of work belong to two different people, i.e. the pottery is hers and the woodworking is yours. The display needs to present that very clearly. Pottery By Her and Woodworking By Him. Married couples are the only duos who can get away with sharing a booth with two bodies of work. When anybody else does it, it says "I can't afford my own booth." When married couples do it, it says "we like to spend time together."

Stephen and What? like this

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I totally get that it has all the potential cons you mention and most authorities on the subject totally agree with you. 

 

That said, I'm counting on the pieces of each medium standing on their own for craftsmanship and the mixed media pieces will tie each to the other and to my customers it will actually come off as just the way I work and this is what I do using clay only, wood only or both. I grappled with this and then came to the conclusion that since I have given up a lot to do this as my day job and I want to work within the two mediums, side by side with the line between the two blurred as I move among the projects as a maker, then that result is how I will market it to my customers. I've decided its not "I can be good at one or mediocre at two", its "...as an artist/craftsman this is what I produce and I do markets, fairs, fine craft and art shows to directly sell this work.".

 

I think it will work fine with the customers I sell to but like I said I have not done any high-end shows and I'm of course hoping that the shows I have been doing will let me in with this booth. Since almost all potters do buy some wood pieces for their pottery (trivet frames, small boxes for pottery inlay etc) I assume I would just have to remove the pure wood products for the ones that object on that basis. Now for those that think that working and selling in two mediums side by side makes me less serious and worthy of a spot then it will definitely cost me that show. Since I am only in my 2nd season that's not much of a problem and since I am doing this now I will build out my road schedule with shows that are OK with it. 

 

One thing I will mention is that I am talking about artisan/craft type wood pieces like jewelry boxes, cutting & cheese boards etc, not cabinets or furniture... 

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IF you truly want to do both them I would suggest doing as many combo pieces as possible with just a few total wood or total pottery. This could be as simple as a cutting board with a small ceramic bowl with it, or a ceramic spreader. Things like wooden spoons inside pottery pieces is already done everywhere and you would have a leg up in the fact that you make the spoons yourself. A wooden tray could have a pottery tea set on it. I'm sure you've thought of all this but I'm stressing that the MAJORITY of items are BOTH pottery and wood. Stress you make ALL your pieces wood and pottery to compliment each other and the customers might respond.

 

Not sure what category you would apply under, though a lot of smaller shows have a Fine Craft category and that would work. The larger shows would most likely give you some issues, unless you can explain your process thoroughly stressing the melding of the 2 forms. I've done shows where a potter showed up with a small stand of jewelry and was made to remove it because they didn't jury in with jewelry. Same with painters and a rack of photos, you will just have to test the waters and see which shows are more open to such things.

 

Good luck!

T

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Thanks pug!

 

Yeah it is a hill to climb but making a living in this business is a hill to climb. At the end of the day I think what I make matters and I just need to present my wares to the audience I can get in front of and hope for the best. Ya know in the thousands of years that pottery has had its place nothing has really changed. I put my best foot forward and it works or it doesn't. 

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Speaking from over 40 years of selling at shows I would avoid this double mediums at all costs

Mea covered a few aspects

I know many friends in the art show business who tried this and couples are the only ones to pull it off as she said.

some downsides from a potter who's husband did metal work-both are top of the line stuff

she said the public is confused and after years had to separate the mediums 

She also said the jury process cut her and him from many venues as they do not know how to handle the two mediums

I cannot say enough on this one point alone-if you confuse the jury you are out-done deal

Since getting into a show is how I make my living this point alone is a key one. The idea is focus on one medium and shine in that

I'm not saying that both are not mastered  by you its just the system is not set up for the two tier jurying.That alone will be a hindrance .A large one.

Then if say you get into both them the clueless public who is the reason your are there is confused by two mediums -that again will slow sales.

If you are hell bent on this just jury into different shows with single mediums and take that single medium to that single show. Wood sale booths are different setups anyways than a ceramics booth so you need two both rack systems either way.

I realize you mostly are going to try this but you are starting with a handicap .I would just do a wood booth at one show and a pottery booth at the next. Even this will be harder than sticking to one.

One last note I think there is more Money in the pottery business than wood.

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All of you who have posted have been doing this long enough and with a level of success I certainly am paying attention to your warnings. Pottery is still the bulk of my work and leaving out the wood pieces should not be a huge issue for larger juried events and it sounds like I should not even run this booth at a large juried events and when I do add wood at some shows I will work hard to keep the booth very focused on kitchen/dining/serving so all the pieces will compliment each other. As pug pointed out, many potters use some of the wood I will be adding but they buy the pieces from pottery supply houses.

 

A lot of the small shows I do claim to be juried but I rather doubt they are really much more than filtered. They struggle to get the booths full and frustratingly take some of the weekend knitters to fill in but the organizers are always easy to work with and are trying to put on the best event possible. Most do keep out the buy/sell and deliver a modest crowd. I really think at these smaller shows that are now my bread and butter (literally) this combined booth will work well and punch up my numbers as it will be more inclusive. This crowd wanders through the booths and of course includes lots of folks that like and buy pottery BUT the majority poke through for a few minutes and move on. I don't think they are buying pottery from someone else but rather they are not into pottery enough to pop $20 for a mug. The wood pieces I am adding for this type of show will give this non pottery crowd some beautiful options and if I pull it off right not run off my pottery customers since everything is still on point for kitchen/dining/serving.

 

I know that several of you do a slate of shows that cash flow thousands of dollars a day but I am not doing anything like that, not even remotely close. Better product, better shows and more time will even out my revenue as I hopefully both discover and get accepted to some of these venues, but right now, today, I have to throw everything I have at getting these week in and week out shows providing a meager living. 

 

I might also add that a lot of these small shows seldom seem to have many potters and I am pretty sure everyone not selling food is ringing up sales in the hundreds each day, not thousands. 

 

I very much appreciate the input and although I am going to continue with my plan, I am going to modify it to not add anything to the pottery booth that strays from the kitchen/dining/serving theme AND organize my booth to leave out the pure wood additions for the shows that it needs to be pottery only.

 

I'll keep you guys up to date on my progress and report my findings/

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If your shows are small ones as you noted then adding the wood may not even be noticed by the promotor and you can experiment with other items. I was just suggesting  not to dilute your message to the public.I have only one show like that one where anything goes (4th of july)

On a side note I do have wood items in my booth

I make chopstick bowls and they come with square very high end chopsticks wrapped in a gold foil.I bought a few thousand of these 20 years ago and am now getting low on stock and they are long gone from my wholesaler (kitchen tool supplier-Nor-pro)

I also make a mixer bowl with a wood handled wire whip

I use wooded utensil to show off my utensil holders but they are not sold with the item just a demo to show the public what the form is?

Like a sponge in my sponge holder to show the public what that form is.

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I'm always leery of people who describe themselves as an 'artist', because more often than not it means they dabble in a lot of different types of art, but aren't a master of any. This is how the public will view a booth with two different mediums for sale. It dilutes the quality of each. Folks who excel at a particular type of art general describe themselves as such, such as a 'potter' or 'painter' or 'fiber artist' or 'graphic designer', or something that defines the specific type of art that they do. Also, a lot of juried shows just won't want want to deal with two mediums. If you could somehow work out the marketing as 'handmade items for the home', rather than 'pottery' and 'wood', it may be more successful, but you would have to really work it well. It would also help if there are a number of items that incorporate both wood and clay.

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 It would also help if there are a number of items that incorporate both wood and clay.

 

+1 for everything that has already been said re 2 mediums. IMHO what Neil said above is the best way I could think of to do this if you really have to though. One of my girls keeps bugging me to make beer sampler trays, wood base plus clay cups. This kinda thing but in clay / wood.

 

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I'm always leery of people who describe themselves as an 'artist', because more often than not it means they dabble in a lot of different types of art, but aren't a master of any. This is how the public will view a booth with two different mediums for sale. It dilutes the quality of each. Folks who excel at a particular type of art general describe themselves as such, such as a 'potter' or 'painter' or 'fiber artist' or 'graphic designer', or something that defines the specific type of art that they do. Also, a lot of juried shows just won't want want to deal with two mediums. If you could somehow work out the marketing as 'handmade items for the home', rather than 'pottery' and 'wood', it may be more successful, but you would have to really work it well. It would also help if there are a number of items that incorporate both wood and clay.

Thanks Neil, all good suggestions and yes the vast majority of work with be pottery and pottery and wood with a few pure wood items that are so closely related to the other wares in utility that I don't think it will really cause much confusion to the customers. Juries? Sure some, many, most might toss me and if that happens too much then I will have to separate.   

 

There's that word 'dabble' again though. I guess I will just have to get used to folks using that word for my work if I work in both wood and clay but since what I am doing in my shop daily is my sole source of income and I take it very seriously, I just don't consider myself dabbling B) by doing this, I honestly feel that adding a few beautiful pure wood products that are used side by side in every home with pottery will enlarge my pool of buyers and help me make more money so I can continue to do this.  

 

 

 

Min, that would be a perfect example of what I would add and display along side beer steins and other alcohol related stuff. 

 

I really think there are lots of pottery booths out there with plenty of wood it's just that a lot of it is bought from factories via pottery supply houses. 

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Thanks old lady, I actually have not been the one doing our applications so I didn't realize it was an application category.

 

ya know I follow this forum and artfiarinsider.com and there are a number of users listed on that board that list mixed media in their bio. Many of them are regulars and like many of the regulars here, I have come to both respect and trust the info they give. One particular user is wood/metal & ceramic and I have followed his threads and advice for years and as far as I can tell he does at lot of the big prestigious shows and makes lots of dough (like GEP and Mark C he often mentions a home run five figure show here and there).

 

He also has been around forever so he may be doing so well because of history with the promoters. When I start applying I guess I will get my first re-actions and see if these artist are the exceptions if they will actually tell me if I was turned down because of mixed media..

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Stephen, you've made up your mind and you don't need to justify your choice.

 

My last thoughts about it ... this move is not going to squeeze more money out of low-tier shows. If you want to increase your income, work towards getting into high-tier shows as fast as you can, with one medium or both.

 

Also, take artfairinsiders with many grains of salt. I don't consider it to be a credible source.

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Thanks Mea, will keep that in mind on AFI, good to know.

 

This thread has been a huge help to me. I am literally re-doing everything and need to be back in the field early next month at the latest. My income is completely re-setting and it will be what it is but of course I am hoping the decisions I make will improve it.  

 

I cannot thank you all enough for taking time out of your busy schedules to give me your opinions. I came into this discussion with one thought process and with so many of you providing your input I been able to continue to think it through and modify it, hopefully improving my plan. Even when I don't take particular advice verbatim I do take away something valuable from all of you and it has been a tremendous help. 

 

Again, thanks!

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(Also, take artfairinsiders with many grains of salt. I don't consider it to be a credible source.)

I to am with Mea on this I joined  that site years ago and gave up posting years ago as well. 

The info was to sideways for me as I have done shows for 4  decades so I gave it up.

I only have so much net time so for me ceramics its here for me.

Tuna fishing/diving well thats another site altogether .

I will add that Mea is right on doing the better shows if you can get in. That takes time but it worth pursuing as an end goal as the work of doing a show is the same whether its a small show or a big one-the labor is the same.Its just the return is better.

Mark

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Thanks Mark, will certainly be working toward better shows. I do think you guys are being a little hard on AFI. There was a time when offcenter and the artist from Spain were blustering through this forum letting everyone have it daily that I am sure it left a lot of folks feeling that this wonderful forum had some serious issues, I certainly did. I think the tone and substance of forums are just dynamic and changes as people come and go. Moderators are tasked with such a difficult job of keeping out abuse AND allowing an open discussion. Add to that that 'everyone can be a star online' skews the accuracy of unsupported information in all of these forums. I only really know what you said is true because you said so is just the nature of the beast.

 

When I feel any forum is tilting away from what I'm looking for I usually just fade away for a while and then check back later to see if things have improved. The two of you were there at one time so obviously they do have some credible sources from time to time  :)

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Stephen, my issue with AFI has nothing to do with personalities there. I joined that site when it was very young, hopeful about its good intentions. However, I quickly learned that the site had a major flaw, which many smart artists figured out too. It is crazy and dumb to talk about shows online where it can be read by anyone. It hurts you either way. If you complain about a show, you can be retaliated against. If you praise a show, that show will be flooded by new applications. I had both things happen to me at the same time. I wrote a mostly praising comment about a show, but criticized one person on the staff. The following year I was waitlisted then stuck in a bad spot. Coincidence? Meanwhile, others were also praising the show (it does have a great buying crowd) and now this show (which is local for me) has gained a national level reputation and very difficult to get in. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT ONLINE is my current motto. The last time I visited AFI (admittedly it's been a while) all of the talk was about shows I had never heard of, by artists who are newcomers. Plus people trying to sell off their show gear. Not much high-level advice to be found there.

 

The best way to learn about shows is to make friends with other artists that you meet at shows. We talk about shows a lot, but we do it in person and privately.

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(The best way to learn about shows is to make friends with other artists that you meet at shows. We talk about shows a lot, but we do it in person and privately.)

 

Yes this is the best way-I to keep very quite online about shows for all the above reasons. I have seen so much carnage from staff and artists it best to just keep it to yourself.

The thing is at any given venue my stuff may sell like hotcakes or be dead and this is true with most mediums and the only way to know is trying or at least getting 1st hand info from an artist.

I have a network of potters who we trust and we keep to ourselves .

​All my show advice online is general in nature.In your case I just spoke to what I know to be true from my experience -Your experience may be 100% different

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