This is the time of the year when applications are due in for the various fairs that I do throughout the year. And the time of the year where I have to sum up what I do and why in no more than 150 words and then sum it up again (and make it sound enticing) in less than 15 words.
It's also the time of the year when I have to decide which photo's of my work I should use to convince a panel of strangers that they want to allow me to exhibit with them.
I've often been asked for advice about applying to the big shows like The Contemporary Craft Festival and The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. These shows are all curated and can be hard to get in to. They also cost a lot more to exhibit at than your average craft fair, so you and they want to make sure that it's the right show for you to do.
Becoming a successful applicant depends on many different things, and lord knows I'm no expert, having been turned down plenty of times, but for most of us the first and most important contact that we have with the selection panel is through the images you submit with your application.
When I started applying for curated shows I submited images that showed as varied a cross section of my work as possible. Which was my first mistake. My second was to not look at the images of previous exhibitors on the shows websites.
The best advice that I can give anyone intending to apply to curated shows is to try and get your images right. Rather than showing off how varied your work can be, try and present a coherent collection of work. Have a look at previous exhibitor photo's and take note of how clean and well shot the images are. Think about whether the photo's are on clean, plain backgrounds or whether they are life style shots (some shows ask for both). My orginal images were always lifestyle shots and were far too busy, which detracted from my work (think about how much impact you have to make to stand out from the hundreds of images being looked at).
Base the style of your photography on the type of show that you're applying for. If it's a contemporary fair, then present your images in a modern, contemporary style. Light backgrounds with simple clean images work best, but interesting angles that show detail also work well.
But if applying to something like County Living, then lifestyle shots tend to work better - present your images in a way that fits in with the magazine's aesthetic.
For me, the challenge is always about overcoming the idea that children's clothing and accessories don't fit in with contemporary craft (because so much of it doesn't). And I wasn't successful until I realised that I had to style my images in a specific way.
For my latest slew of applications I've chosen these 6 images. They're certainly not perfect and they don't show much of my newest work (because it's still not quite finished!) but I do think that they present a collection of work that compliments eachother and that looks like it was created by one person.
Although I still get rejection emails, and am certainly not a pro, I really do believe that the best advice for getting accepted to shows is to spend some real time and thought getting your images right.