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July 2010

How To Ship Large Artwork? Asking ASK Harriete, the artist, a few questions.

Several readers have asked how best to store and ship larger sculptures
In today's post, I will reveal how my work is designed for shipping. Storage is another problem that has no easy solution.

Right now a lot of artwork lives in closets, bedrooms, and in my studio.  Sometimes, the artwork is out on display at various exhibition spaces, but other times, like now, most of my work has come home to "rest." No easy answers for storage exist, but I do design and make my own interior shipping boxes for compact and flexible storage.

Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Recycled tin cans, battery motor, alum.
rivets, dial, screws.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen 

All my artwork is designed during construction in anticipation of shipping. If possible I plan and design to disassemble fragile or delicate components from heavier parts. This principle is applied to smaller artwork as well. Below are some examples.

BermanObverse_front Obverse Obsession (shown to the left) disassembles into multiple parts which include the base, body, lid, and the sterling silver "kiss" on top. Even the delicate sterling silver kiss "flag" comes off as a separate piece. 

Each part fits into a custom-made interior shipping box. I cut foam to create recessed shapes lined or covered in flannel. The interior shipping box then slides inside a larger shipping box with space for packing peanuts between the two.

In the next photo,  you can see the inside of the base after it is disassembled. Assembly instructions are even written in letters from recycled tin cans. These instructions will never be lost (and of course, there are more detailed instructions for assembly and disassembly printed and glued to the interior shipping box.)


Obvob_kiss copyPP On the left, you can see the sterling silver kiss (that looks like it is aluminum foil). This kiss unscrews for easy cleaning (if it tarnishes) and for safe shipping. The sterling silver flag (labeled, SEDUCTION) has a little post that just pulls out and stores separately. 

Imagine trying to ship this chocolate pot without taking it apart. There would be real problems shipping a large heavy base along with a delicate sterling silver kiss and flag on top. Don't go there!!!! Plan ahead when constructing your work. 

Hourglass Figure: The 
Scale of Torture
Inside view of 
Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Inside the sculpture are assembly
instructions visible in this photo.
Recycled tin cans,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman © 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

On the right, you can see another artwork, Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture, with the assembly instructions written inside the sculpture. These instructions, along with the elaborate details on the inside are not visible when on display.


PPGrass_SW The 9' x 9' Grass/gras installation is actually 36 separate panels measuring 18" x 18" square.  Each panel fits snugly inside its own interior shipping box. Two single panel boxes fit into a larger shipping box. There are 18 shipping boxes total. Storage is a real problem. Sometimes the boxes have to live in my living room or my children's bedrooms when it is not on display in an exhibition.

MeasuringCompliance The floor for Measuring Compliance (on the left) is about 10' x 14'.  This disassembles like a puzzle into manageable pieces, numbered, layered on top of one another with paper in between, and is reassembled on site. It travels with assembly instructions and a diagram.

The #2 pencil bell curve piece titled, Take Out Your Pencils, Begin is constructed in nine sections. Each section is three feet wide (the red section or "stanine" is visible to the right) and rolls up very easily into a large roll. Eventually, when it is done, each roll of pencils will get its own interior shipping box. To protect the pencils adequately, I will either roll layers and layers of bubble wrap around the pencils or find a tight-fitting interior shipping box. This will ship in a larger exterior shipping box.

Double boxing is my preferred method.  If damage occurs to your shipping box, the interior shipping box safely protects the artwork.

Words to the wise, save yourself future problems:

  • Design your work for shipping (from inception and during construction)
  • Custom design your interior shipping box and packing method.
  • Double box your work.
  • A Professional Guidelines topic on making a custom interior shipping box will be ready soon.


This post was updated on February 5, 2022, to provide current links.

How do you find venues for your work? Asking ASK Harriete, the artist, a few questions

"Hi Harriete!
I've recently been listening to all the past Whaley studios blog radio programs and have gotten up to your interview a few weeks ago. What a great interview! It gave me a chance to know a little more about you and your work...from your own mouth!

After listening I had a few questions about your installation/museum work: How does it work? Do you come up with an idea, make the work, then try and shop it around to different venues? Or do you try and fill an already perceived need a venue may have? Or something else?

What sort of monetary arrangements are there (if any) for just showing the work (instead of the piece being acquired by a museum)?

Stevie B.

Grass/gras' sculpture close-up © 2001
Recycled tin cans, steel base
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

That's a lot of questions. I will do my best to give you some quick answers.

Grass/gras sculpture about our consumer society by Harriete Estel Berman
Grass/gras' sculpture close-up © 2001
Recycled tin cans, steel base
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Mostly, I come up with an idea, make the work, and then "shop it around", as you call it.  This takes a  considerable amount of time from start to finish. For example, the Grass/gras' installation took a year to make plus another year to finish the Grass/gras' video. The series of 200 cups titled, Consuming Conversation (see images below), took four years plus another year for the two videos. In both cases, I photographed earlier examples and started promoting the work before it was finished. Considering the entire effort, both projects took several years from inception to the finished work because I need to keep up on other work that makes money during the same period.

It often takes years until a piece becomes known, shown in exhibitions, or published in books or magazines with images widely distributed. The Internet really helps with that aspect of promoting your work, but it is important to maintain your focus and keep on working no matter what.

Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Recycled tin cans, battery motor, alum.
rivets, dial, screws.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Sixteen years after completion, Hourglass Figure: the Scale of Torture is included in the book Makers: A History of Studio Craft.  I haven't seen the book yet, but this is really big news! You have to plant your seeds and nurture them. You can not wait for opportunities and invitations to show up, you need to create momentum by working all the time.

Pencils Sharpening System in the studio of Harriete Estel BermanI have been writing about a current artwork in progress involving a bell curve made from #2 pencils on my website and Facebook. This is the fourth year of working on this project, but I am really trying to finish it this year. When I have some preliminary photos, I will start looking for exhibition spaces.

There is no money that I know of for these big projects. Once in a great while, I get a little money to make a video or to speak about a piece. Big projects like this are time-consuming, drain my financial resources, drive me insane, fill me with self-doubt and torture -- it is not a picnic.  Yet this is what I see and must do.  It is my expression of art.

The next post answers the question: "How do you transport the larger work?"  Another real-world question from several readers of ASK Harriete.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.

Consuming Conversation a series of 200 teacups construced from recycled tin cans.

Consuming Conversation © 2004
Teacup sculpture from recycled tin cans.
Handles are sterling silver or bronze.
This was the first photo I had for the
series and started promoting the series
through this image with note cards
and images. 
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The Professional Guidelines to help you make life a little easier!

The PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES offer a resource of information to the arts community.  Topics like Inventory Records, Artist Checklist: Exhibitions, Model  Contract, Consignment Contract, and Discounts all cover topics you will need to know when working with galleries.

Find this information and more on my website:

This post was updated on January 19, 2022, to provide current links.

Commission Structures with Galleries - Are they negotiable?

In response to the recent posts about Delinquent Payment Issues, there were numerous comments about consignment agreements, several implying that the consignment percentage between the artist and the gallery is negotiable.

Balance-scale-unbalanced It has been my experience that most retail galleries will NOT negotiate their consignment commission structure below 50 percent (unless you are super famous or your work is in the high-end range of $40,000 or higher).  Most galleries expect a 50/50 split with the artist, while some galleries are moving toward 60 /40 or that range (with the 40 going to the artist).

While I don’t approve of 60 /40 (with 40 going to the artist) and won’t agree to it….sometimes this stance puts me in a difficult situation.

Most of all, it is important to keep your prices as close to the same across the U.S. as best as possible. If the prices are higher at one gallery compared to another retail location for the same or similar items, the entire inventory comes into question.  Collectors/buyers DO notice the difference.  I have actually had a collector ask me why the prices were higher at "so & so's" gallery. (Clear evidence that they do compare prices.)

Cash-flowgr Some galleries suggest to the artist, "just tell me your wholesale price....then we will add our percentage." The gallery may sincerely intend that the artist receives the requested wholesale price.  However, the artist is still responsible for retail price consistency in various venues. 

Some galleries try to justify a higher commission (more than 50%) because their "expenses have increased."  While I am sympathetic that costs continue to rise, I just don't buy the suggestion that artists' expenses have not increased as well. 

As operating businesses, galleries tend to be much more aware of their expenses such as rent, insurance, staff salaries, employment taxes, utilities, and advertising.  They KNOW how much it costs per month to stay open.  

Artists also have overhead expenses but tend to price their work in proportion to their direct labor and materials only.  Most artists are not pricing their work high enough to actually cover their overhead expenses such as rent, utilities, photography, bookkeeping labor, office supplies, tool purchases, equipment, etc.   Artists frequently don't realize they didn't make money until the end of the year when they fill out their tax returns.   

It seems to me that the difference between galleries and artists is that galleries are fully conscious of ALL their expenses (direct and overhead) and their monthly bottom line.


The 50/50 split reflects a partnership between the artist and the gallery.  Each supports the other.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.

LinkedIN as a networking tool. Boost your network and networking skills at the speed of light.

I have been on LinkedIn for quite a while, but haven't used it as effectively as possible.  Then I found these great YouTUBE videos which really explain all the "bells and whistles" and buttons to use LinkedIn much more effectively.

I really love video tutorials.  Video is a great way for visual people to learn information quickly.  very close view of wall piece by Harriete Estel Berman titled Fulsome Game

Do you know what LinkedIn is? Listen to this introductory video.

Your next step is creating a LinkedIn profile. Find  people who know with this tutorial.

Wall piece by Harriete Estel Berman titled Fulsome Game

I find LinkedIn useful if I want to look up information about a person or look for contact information. Sometimes it can be very useful, unfortunately, people don't seem to keep their information up to date.

LinkedIn does not generate visibility for your art or craft. There is no image sharing or gaining visibility by accident. It is only one tool in an internet toolbox.  

That's all for now, but I hope you look for me on LinkedIn and connect with me.

This post was updated on February 5, 2022.

INVENTORY RECORDS - An Essential Ingredient for Your Business Success

EdwardsD_9aNew (1) EDWARDSgr(Rose
Two Felt Hats by Dawn Edwards. View more of her work on her website

Dear Harriete,
Is there an easy computer program
(for those of us who are not much of a "techie"), that you've found works well, and is designed for keeping accurate inventory?
Thanks so much,

Dawn Edwards

Dear Dawn,
I don’t use special computer software for inventory management. I am much more inclined to save my money and use my own system. No computer program is going to do the work for you and the most tedious and demanding aspect of inventory management is making sure you DO IT! 

Your inventory management needs to start with a complete description in a word document for each and every item (or series of items).  Include the title, date, brief description, dimensions, and photo credit. This can be used over and over for your online postings (on your website, retail marketing sites, exhibition labels, and on social networking sites).

For major one-of-a-kind work, I use the Inventory Record Form in the Professional Guidelines. Download the Inventory Record FORM


When the Inventory Record Form is printed, I handwrite the pertinent information and organize it in a binder. For more information about the Inventory Record Form in the Professional Guidelines CLICK HERE.

If you want to keep this information on your computer, then just make a similar outline on your computer (e.g. in an Excel or Word document). Create your own system based on this template form. Make sure that you are noting all your Cost of Good (COG) hours and materials on this form.


HardCandy72  AOLfree2web
For smaller items like earrings and bracelets, I just keep a list of Earring Inventory with the name of each item, short description and price. If I send the earrings to a gallery, I move it from studio inventory to a different list, in the same document under the Gallery Inventory.

INVENTORY FOR PIN with a description.
Same idea goes for bracelets or pins. Here are two pins currently in inventory.

Copycatscratch72 Collect72
Here is the description for these two pins in Pin Inventory:
Copycat Won’t Scratch
Ht 3 5/8"  W 3 3/8" pin.  $295
Collect Payment   Ht  2 3/4" height  W 2 15/16"   $195

Sometimes I have subcategories in the same Inventory file. For example in my Pin Inventory, I have lists of my Flower pins. Each pin has a title, date, description, and price.  

Here is the description copied directly from my inventory records.

April Flower  Pin 48. 3L. 6.11.10 Children toys with doll face center in soft green. Back: Soft Yellow Almanac Tin with seasonal gardening information. 3 6/16” Diameter $345


Red Campbell's Flower Brooch-
Recycled Tin Cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 2010

If an item sells, I move the record to my SOLD INVENTORY at the bottom of the same inventory document.

If you make multiples, you still need a document with your handy description. Then you could use an Excel program to keep track of total inventory, the number of items, materials, hours, etc.

THE MOST DIFFICULT ISSUE is taking time to keep careful records. You just can't send work to a gallery or store on consignment and think you will remember where it is. That does not work! If you are sending work to a gallery on consignment, you need to move the record from STUDIO INVENTORY to your list of GALLERY INVENTORY. If it comes back from a gallery, move the items back into STUDIO INVENTORY.

If you sell an item, record it to SOLD INVENTORY.  How else will you know if an item is available or how many you have in stock?

Oh yes! Back up your files on occasion. That is why for important work, I print the Inventory Record Form and keep it in a binder.

This post was updated on January 19, 2022, to provide current links.


A lot of people are not tagging photos of their artwork and craft on social networks very effectively. Sometimes a couple of tags, perhaps three or four, maybe none at all.  Are you kidding? Tags drive Search Engines more than ever.  If you don't have tags on the images of your art and craft, how is someone going to find you or your work? If there are only three or four tags and they don't include your name you are completely missing the idea. SUPERSIZE YOUR VISIBILITY with appropriate tags.

I have a suggestion for speed, efficiency, and getting the job done effectively.  I have a word document on my computer that holds all my 2.0 social networking tags for my photos. I constantly add or improve these tags, of course, but any time I post images, I can quickly open the document, copy my tags for that category and paste the tags for my photos. Then, if appropriate, I can add a few more relevant tags, such as color or theme, specific for that piece or item.

Here is an example Flower pin and the tags:
HBerman_orangeBlue50Year_flowerW HBerman_orangeBlue50YearBACK_flowerW 

recycled tin cans, jewelry from recycled materials, harriete estel berman, harriete, estel, eco, harriet, harriette, earth day, april flowers,  flower, green, recycle, upcycle, eco, trashinista, earth day, brooch, pin, san mateo, san Francisco bay area, jewelry from tin cans, colorful, advertising, packaging, consumer society,  Blue, Orange, anti aging, watch, fifty,

Look at the tags closely. There are lots of perspectives to enable someone to find this image of a flower pin by Harriete Estel Berman.

First, since my name is commonly misspelled, I include misspellings in my tags. People often seem to remember my name as Estel. So I put Estel in my tags.

SanMateo I put the same words in my tags that I (or other people) use to describe my work, such as recycle, upcycle, trashinista.

Note that I include both San Mateo and San Francisco, two ways to describe where I live.

For this flower pin I would add the following tags specific to this flower pin: blue, orange, anti-aging, watch,

In situations where the number of tags is limited, mix up the combination of words. For example, on Etsy tags are limited to 14, so I put my name in the tags in different ways on different pieces.  All I need to do is get people to my shop. Flickr allows up to about 75 tags. I don't know if there are limits to the number of tags on Crafthaus. Just prioritize the order and go for it as fast as you can.

I know that there are lots of online discussions about the best keywords, but I don't think that is as important as putting up a variety of tags. Use your own common sense. How do you describe your work? How do other people describe your work? OK. You got it. Those are your tags!

Now open your photo albums on each social network site and tag away as fast as you can. Make your images into superheroes traveling at the speed of light around the world, and working 24 hours a day.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.

Links for Professional Guidelines

In 2010, SNAG published two brochures about the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES brochures for widespread distribution.

The Professional Guidelines are documents that have been developed as a reference to help everyone in the arts and crafts community learn how to handle common but important situations that may arise.


These brochures are no longer in print, but the Professional Guidelines are available online. The Professional Guidelines assist artists in their professional development and the arts community.

INVENTORY RECORD: Documentation and Provenance

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine


EXHIBITIONS: Artist Checklist





FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS: Issues and Checklist for Artists
FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS: Issues and Recommendations for Collectors
FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS: Issues and Impact on Galleries
FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS: Issues and Alternatives for Art Organizations

CONSIGNMENT Contract      

DISCOUNTS - Impact of discounts on the arts and crafts community    

OPEN STUDIOS: Artist Checklist      
OPEN STUDIOS: Guide for Art Organizations       

CLAIMS for DAMAGED WORK: Artist Checklist



The Guidelines were written by Harriete Estel Berman with the guidance of Andy Cooperman and a blue-ribbon panel of experts. 
The brochures were designed by emiko oye with content from Harriete Estel Berman.

*Brochures were printed and distributed through a grant from a private foundation.  

This post was updated on February 5, 2022.

Anticipating History - MAKERS: A History of American Studio Craft

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ Makers: A History of American Studio Craft is the only comprehensive survey of modern craft in the United States and the release date is July 13, 2010!

This book follows the development of studio craft media including fiber, clay, glass, wood, and metal from its roots in nineteenth-century reform movements to the rich diversity of expression at the end of the twentieth century.

Culminating after over five years of research and dedication from the authors, Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, this book provides a college-level history of 20th-century craft. But there is no need to go to college for this class, as the book gives an in-depth perspective to inform your studio work. 

Many times craft is considered just a description of materials or techniques when in fact, craft can contain social and political commentary. As we enter the 21st century, the act of making or crafting by hand is in itself a social commentary.  When "makers" deliberately decide to make work in a time of mass-produced consumer goods, craft is not just a media, not just a verb, but a symbolic action. 


Increasing Quantity Diminishing Value a sculpture as commentary about our consumer society by Harriete Estel Berman
Increasing Quantity, Diminishing Value
 Recycled tin cans, copper base
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 2001
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Due to the depth and range across so much media, this book is destined to be the consummate resource about the history of 20th-century craftwork.  By understanding the roots of craft media in the 20th century, both the makers and their audiences can more fully appreciate and recognize the value of craft in the 21st century.   

I've already pre-ordered a copy.  Personally, every time a UPS truck drives up near my house, my heart jumps out of my chest.  Is my book here yet?  I am so excited!  But then I go back to work  . . . anticipation is  . . . well, more inspiration until my book arrives. Can't wait!  And I have a secret to be revealed as well!!!! 


Increasing Quantity Diminishing Value a sculpture as commentary about our consumer society by Harriete Estel Berman
 Increasing Quantity, Diminishing Value
 Recycled tin cans, copper base
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 2001
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


So far the best price I've found for Makers: A History of American Studio Craft is on  (Even better than the price I paid, Aw Shucks!!!)  In the interest of full disclosure, clicking on the link and purchasing a book will provide this blog with a few cents as an affiliate link.

This post was updated on January 19, 2022, to provide current links.

Grass closeup view of Increasing Quantity Diminishing Value a sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.
Increasing Quantity, Diminishing Value is about the environmental impact of lawns on our environment. Constructed entirely from post-consumer tin cans, this series of grass sculptures highlight the grass lawn as an ultimate consumer icon of American culture. Watch the video featuring the construction and motivation behind the Grass/gras sculpture on my website or YOUtube. 

My morning coffee with the I.R.S. MAN - Tips to prevent or smooth your audit with the I.R.S.

Coming up is the "anniversary" of my I.R.S. audit. Three summers ago, I was "invited" for a morning visit with the I.R.S. What a petrifying experience!  Coffee was politely offered but my adrenaline was pumping already.  Everything turned out fine...but perhaps you may gain some insight from how I survived economically unscathed and on excellent terms with the I.R.S.

Here are 3 basic tips based on my experience that you should implement immediately (if you are not doing this already).

Consuming Conversation R a stack of teacups or coffee cups constructed by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans
 Consuming Conversation © 2001-2004
A series of 200 cups.
Recycled tin cans, brass, s.silver,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
View the entire series on my website.

1) Keep your business banking accounts COMPLETELY SEPARATE from your personal banking. I mean completely separate! For years I had my business bank accounts at a different bank than my personal bank accounts.  I often grumbled and chafed at this extra deposit and bookkeeping effort with two different banks.

I'll never complain again. It paid off BIG when the I.R.S. MAN casually asked questions to glean if my art business funds were co-mingled with my personal funds. One of the first levels of inquiry (even before the audit) is to discover any commingling of business money with personal money. Once the I.R.S. man found out that I not only had separate business and personal accounts but further separated them at different banks ..that topic was OVER. He saw no glimmer of possibility of catching me in a wrongful accounting of my business income or expenses with personal checking and savings or credit cards.


Uncle Bens Cup from Consuming Conversation teacups or coffee cups constructed by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans
  Consuming Conversation © 2001-2004
  Recycled tin cans, brass, s.silver,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
 View the entire series on my website.

2) Keep detailed and accurate records. The I.R.S. asked for specific categories of receipts in advance. I was required to bring this portion of documentation to the I.R.S. office that morning.  In this case, they wanted to look at my Advertising Expenses for the year. While it was a tremendous amount of effort to separate my Advertising Expense receipts (month by month) from all the other receipts (it took about fourteen hours), I was prepared to show each and every receipt. 

He started out asking for the Advertising Expenses for a particular month in random order. He jumped around, March, August, October, etc. Each and every time I had every receipt (already organized by month) ready to go without hesitation or excuse.

When it was obvious that I was well organized (thanks to Emiko Oye, my studio assistant) and he could find no mistakes, he ceased this line of questioning. 


Consuming Conversation 3 teacups or coffee cups constructed by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans
  Consuming Conversation © 2001-2004
  Recycled tin cans, brass, s.silver,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  View the entire series and video.

3) The primary test is whether you act like a business. I was surprised to come to the realization that the I.R.S. is not interested in whether I was a professional success or a financial success. They did not care about my exhibitions or gallery representations.  They did not care about my education, publications, or professional visibility. They only wanted to determine whether I performed like a business.

The I.R.S. measures business standards with definitions that have nothing to do with art or craft. While my advertising expenses must have been a red flag since they were so high for a small business (professional photography is a significant expense). The I.R.S. only wanted to see that I kept complete and accurate records like a business.



Illy COFFEEPOT. titled Coffee the Golden Ratio by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from reycled tin cans, an art coffee pot
   Coffee Φ: The Golden Ratio © 2004
  Recycled tin cans, brass, s.silver,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


My advice:
-Keep your business checking account separate.
-Never co-mingle personal and business money.
-Get a separate credit card for your business.
-Keep detailed and accurate records of every business expense.
-Act like a business. 

Do all of this before you have coffee with the I.R.S.


Here are the 9 criteria from the I.R.S. used to figure out if you are a business (copied directly from the I.R.S. website).

The following factors, although not all inclusive, may help you to determine whether your activity is an activity engaged in for-profit or a hobby:

  • Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • Do you depend on income from the activity?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
  • Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
  • Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past?
  • Does the activity make a profit in some years?
  • Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

This post was updated on January 19, 2022.

IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES of Jury Selection - A Peak Behind the Curtain

Alison Antelman, President of the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild and recent juror, has offered her insight as a juror at Sun Valley Museum of Art (Previously the Sun Valley Center for the Arts) in Sun Valley, Idaho. The previous post on ASK Harriete described her experience in a jury review process. In this second post by Alison, she suggests ways to improve your chances of being selected in a competitive juried environment "following obvious guidelines and structure will increase our chances of being selected."Alison Antelman working at her hydraulic press in the studio.

The opinions expressed by the author, Alison Antelman, in this post are hers and hers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied.

Here are a few observations from my experience that may improve your chances of being selected in a juried situation:

Booth shots matter.  It surprised me how much booth shots matter. It turns out your booth gives a cohesive placement of your work. If you submit images of welded sculpture and your booth displays wood furniture, there will be questions about what you plan to show and this may cost you a spot in the show. Booth shots should match your current work--so no, you can’t reuse that old booth shot with artwork from an old collection. I recall one booth shot where the artist’s work was in question, but one look at the booth shot drew an ooooh!!!! The photographic image was gorgeous and that person got in.

misspelled word Spell check your text including artist statements, descriptions, brand names of machinery, locations, and any other details that you submit. If it comes down to the wire with two award-winning artists who create similar work, the one with misspelled words gives the excuse the jury needs to make an otherwise difficult choice. Don’t simply trust your computer spell check, have a friend read your statement for errors.

100 words

On the subject of artist descriptions (in this case, it was 100 characters read aloud), some descriptions were too technical. While technical descriptions to a certain degree are important, make sure the average person with only some knowledge can understand it. For example, wheel thrown or slab built pottery, or hand-painted glaze with hand-carved details can be understood a little more easily than cone 10 or glaze numbers. Don’t bother with platitudes like, “my work is beautiful” or other flattery to one's work. Use your allotment of words to help clarify how the work was made. Descriptive sentences like, "Not manipulated in Photoshop,”  or “hand-sewn from original designs/patterns,” helps indicate to the jury that the work is original, not an inkjet print or that the work is 100% your craftsmanship and not made from store-bought parts or kits.

Photo lights Most of you know this already and you’ve read it again and again; pay a professional for the photographic images of your work. Professional photographers have the photo lights and set up that you don’t have. They’ve spent the money on the infrastructure to professionally light and shoot your work, and have the experience, the lenses, and the consistency. Pay them, don’t do it yourself…unless you are a professional photographer. Hire a photographer specializing in your kind of artwork and media. A sports photographer is not an art /craft photographer.

Bad Earrings photos Of all the images I looked at, jewelry had the worst images on average.
  I saw at least 20 pairs of earrings (in one image) photographed on a towel that was possibly sitting on the hood of a car. I saw earrings where the ear hooks were hooked into a cable knit sweater. Never use textured backgrounds or wrinkly fabric. Use the entire piece in the shot, fill the frame, no partial art shots or close-ups that look cool, because the jury has no idea what they are looking at. These are not art shots, they are jury shots…keep it simple, close up, and in focus.

Applicants are always told that the image order is important. I did not feel that this played a big role in the jury process. I never heard from any juror a complaint about how image #1 should be #3 and so forth. We viewed them all at one time with 3 on top and two on the bottom. I did not feel that image order affected an entry one way or another.


Antelman Tourmaline Crystal Ring
Tourmaline Crystal Ring
Alison Antelman
Photo Credit: Eric Smith

For me as an artist, craft shows and their application processes are one big shoulder shrug of clicking the submit button and hoping for the best. Being on the other side of this process was insightful, educational and also made me realize that with all things being equal—don't take it personally if you are rejected, but do everything possible to be accepted.
Alison B. Antelman

Thank you, Alison. BOTH of your posts have been very insightful.  In addition, I want to recommend reading the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine in the Professional Guidelines.  The documents Exhibitions: Artist Checklist, Juried Exhibitions, and the Exhibition Contract may also help decide whether you apply to a show. Learn more about the impact of math in jury ranking with the Comparison of Jury Ranking System.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.