Picture: “Talisman for Film Noir Lovers”_Loukia Richards, 2013. The picture/caption was published in Germany’s print weekly Die Zeit (appr. 500.000 readers) in 2013 and left a strong digital trace.
Hot air or real business?
Fairs, weeks, shows, meetings. More events, more Open Calls, more “jewellery VIPs”, more “nurturing jewellery community bondings”, more phantastic opportunities ask for your attention – and money.
How to choose the right show for you and not become the captive of the vicious recycling of the same people, same slogans, same concepts, same jewellery, same public, same poor or non existent sales in different places and seasons depends on
the homework you have done examining options, pros and contras
the honesty with which you address your own career needs despite fashions or peer pressure
the purpose behind your passion for jewellery.
Talking about money should never be a taboo!
Cost-benefit analysis lies at the very heart of neoclassical or market oriented economics. It is based on the assumption that each individual meets rational decisions and judge the results of her/his economic actions by how much they cost and how much they return.
Sooner or later – if predictions of an economic slowdown prevail in 2019 – jewellery artists and designers investing in fares, accomodation, gallery or stand rentals, advertisement fees etc. to attend or show their work in fairs, weeks, shows, meetings will have to learn to calculate in hard currency (rather than Facebook/Instagram likes, friendly pats on the shoulder and useless compliments) an event’s profitability.
If money does not interest you (and you are not rich already like jewellery designer and multi-millionaire heiress Eugenia Niarchos), then you are in the wrong business. Jewellery is par excellence THE art medium expressing status. It is by definition impossible to make poor jewellery. Even “ethnological jewellery” made of poor material – for our Western standards, such as nuts, mummified animal or human remains, shells, bones, teeth etc. – expresses the highest values of the society this jewellery was made for.
Here are some questions that may be proven helpful to anyone wishing not to be fooled by trends:
1. How much did the event cost and how much did it return? (Pure business aspect).
2. Did you add new customers in your mailing list? Have you been invited to participate in a next (fee free) show? (Networking/ Reputation/ Advancement in your career/ Exposure possibilities).
3. Did your work or the show you participated in get print or online Press references/reviews? Was the review published in the general (local or international) press or the specialized press or was it an advertorial you had to pay for? (Reputation/Biography enhancement and prestige through Press reviews/ Press is important when you apply for scholarships, artist residecies, awards, job interviews etc.. Advertorials are loud but useless, because everybody knows you paid for it and you have not been s-e-l-e-c-t-e-d).
4. Did you get any further feed back or updates from the organizers or visitors after the show was over? (Do people remember you? Reputation/ Networking effect).
5. Did your show leave a print and/or a digital trace? Can potential customers read about you and your work in a catalogue, a leaflet, a print invitation, a website even years after the show is over? (Sustainable exposure possibilities/ Reputation/ Biography and CV fundamentals).
6. What are the credentials of the organization/organizers managing the fair, the show, the week etc? (Networking effect/ Prestige/ Curriculum).
7. Are the eventual awards of the event, fair, meeting prestigious and 100% positively-adding-value-for-the-artist or are they just marketing tools, for example: a discount on a fair or week participation fee you have to pay in order to activate the award).
8. What is more important to you: To be a professional artist living from your work or to be (considered) a member of an imaginary community? Professionals work in the market; worshipers live inside a community. (What is your incentive for working in this sector: professional fulfillment and advancement in your life goals or need for attention and family-Ersatz?)