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Television Teasers and Live TV with "Gail on the Go" - Listening to the Voice of Experience

Recently, I drove to Los Angeles for the opportunity to be featured on a Los Angeles morning TV news broadcast called "Gail on the Go."

I learned a lot. And here are some of the insights that are worth sharing!   

For this television experience, I had four goals:

GOAL ONE: LA viewership potentially reaches 14 million people, but the demographics are not pre-selected for art or craft.  However, it was an opportunity to introduce the Craft In America exhibition space in LA and the Craft in America JEWELRY online video to millions.

GOAL TWO:  It was also a chance for me to "practice" being on television. Like most skills, no one starts as an instant expert. One must practice their craft -- but in a completely different way than the metalsmithing craft experience.  This would be a "live" opportunity to practice.

GOAL THREE: Learn more about the production of television & videos.  I was told to be at the gallery between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.  Can you imagine? Television starts early. We got there at 6:20 a.m.   Gail (the on-camera host/reporter) and Bob (the producer/cameraman) talked to me about my work, my history, their television plan, and expectations.  Actually, it was a very relaxed environment.  Really!  Over the next 4 hours, we did multiple short interviews and several live 30-second segments, called "teasers," during the morning news.   In each of the 30-second "teasers", they try to set up some intriguing images or topics about the exhibition at the Craft in America gallery.  


GOAL FOUR: Be prepared with ideas and be ready to adapt. With several "mental visions" for this opportunity, I brought more recycled black plastic from home to place into the window display.  Once I saw what they could do, I suggested that a teaser could show me actively placing more plastic in the window as an action shot. "Yes", "yes", they liked the idea.

Then it was getting close to the time to get ready for the interview. Thinking fast....I suggested that "Gail on the Go" might like to wear one of my Recycled Black Plastic bracelets during the interview. "Yes", "yes",  Gail and Bob loved the idea. I have to say, the bracelet looked great with what she was wearing.
IMG_20220202_094406522 IMG_20220202_094355689_MP













Fortunately, I had extra bracelets in the car.... so Bill, my husband and personal assistant for the morning, went to get another bracelet.  

He also got my mobile studio -- actually a cardboard box filled with black plastic for cutting while riding for hours in the car.IMG_20220202_083441846_MP

"Gail on the Go" and the artist, Harriete Estel Berman, sat together in the window of the gallery and talked about a variety of details that Gail and the producer might want to cover when the camera went "live."  Otherwise, there was no preparation for the questions that Gail might ask me.  Behind the camera, staff members of Craft in America (Carol Sauvion, Emily Zaiden,  and Joan Mace) watched. 

While Gail and I talked between "live" segments, I casually started cutting plastic.  This is what I normally do for hours....it is a slow process.  Serendipitously, this also helped them visualize my next suggestion. What if I was actively cutting plastic on camera -- another "action" shot. "Yes", "yes", they liked it.

Between action shots, I also noticed Gail adeptly using her phone to communicate with the control room. She found short clips from the Jewelry video and images from my website for the television station to include in the broadcast.  Her mastery of phone interface was impressive. 

IMG_20220202_083244865Another level of astonishment was that Bob, the producer/cameraman (shown in the photo left), used his cell phone's camera to capture "B roll" images.  "B roll" is any extra footage, images, or video clips for supporting content to use as background or details. 


At one point, Bob asked, "Do you have any shots of the Recycle jewelry being modeled on a real person?"

Within a minute, I am using Gail's phone to show them images on my website. They chose some images to send to the studio for editing....where the studio editor would prepare to insert my photos into the video segments with text information, links, and resource information, all within minutes while we waited
at the gallery for the next "live" teaser or interview segment.  

Also while we waited, I showed Gail how to cut shapes from the plastic trays and containers.  She is curious about everything and it became obvious that she would like to try doing just about anything.  Gail was thrilled to make her own cuts in the black plastic.


Time for the interview. The producer/cameraman did not use a tripod for my interview so he could move around for different angles and move in for closeups. I was given a last-minute tutorial for hand signals to navigate silently during the interview.  Yikes! Learn fast.

Cutting plastic trash has become second nature for me, but cutting AND talking during an interview, AND looking at Gail or looking into the camera, AND thinking of what to say articulately and intelligently, all at the same time..... That was a challenge!  I had no idea what the questions would be. I need more practice like this (i.e., well-prepared, "spontaneous" commentary), but I survived.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself in situations like this, I try to learn some insights from professionals in other professions.  Here is the big lesson that I learned from Gail.....and a great lesson for everyone.

"Gail on the Go" visits and talks to people all over the Los Angles area covering activities of cultural interest for an audience of millions.  While we were talking off camera, she confided, "Every artist needs a website."  I AGREE! (All caps to yell this loudly!)

Every artist and maker in every media needs a website. Social media is good, but it is not a website.  A website is your "go to" resource for opportunities just like this television shoot.  A website is your first step for putting your work out there 24 hours a day for public consumption.   Gail told me that she was often disappointed when the to-be- featured artist didn't have a website for links, extra photos, or supporting information for viewers to follow up independently.  Consequently, the opportunity is lost. 

Screen shot Gail on the Go

A website is essential to leverage your visibility before you step out into the public view or before the craft show.  With all the digital technologies and apps, there are no excuses or barriers to entry.  Website templates are relatively easy to use. The learning curve is designed for easy interface, and if you don't feel ready for learning website construction, then you could hire a high schooler or college student for their youthful familiarity with the internet interfaces.

I use SquareSpace....but there are many other websites that provide easy-to-use templates. Pick a style and jump right in. Websites can and should be constantly updated.  So don't wait.  Let the website grow whenever you have time or new thoughts to include. You can change it at any time. Websites are not like a finished drawing. Websites are always in flux. 

Learn from the voice of experience.  Learn from "Gail on the Go."  Where is your website?


"They Whispered Names to Me - I am a channel"


I waited until Chanukah to share this recent example of  my work titled, "They Whispered Names to Me - I am a channel."  This Menorah (or technically a Hannukiah) was fabricated during the first half of this year, 2021,  for an exhibition that will open in 2022.  It was finished shortly before the video crew from Craft In America came to my studio in June.

Then, as an amazing stroke of good fortune, the crew decided to record a video of me talking about this artwork -- even though it was not about JEWELRY.

A clip of the video is embedded into this post, but just in case it doesn't work, here is the link.

For this upcoming exhibition, each artist who was invited to participate was given a transcript and video interview of a woman rabbi. The overall premise was to recognize women in religious leadership, as part of an ongoing and sometimes controversial issue in Judaism and other religions all over the world. How can this still be true? 

It is unbelievable that women are still treated as second-class citizens in current cultures and religions to this day! This is why I decided to participate in the invitational.

The title for this piece consists of two quotes from my assigned woman rabbi, Rabbi Noa Kushner in San Francisco.  Listen to this short video from PBS  and see what you think.

I would love to respond to any questions that you may have -- so ask away. 

In future posts, I will be sharing images of the intermediate steps during the construction of this piece. This will document the sometimes tortuous and challenging journey it takes to fabricate an idea from inception to the final screw. 


Images:      "They Whispered Names to Me - I am a channel"
  Recycled tin cans, brass, candle cups cast from a 19th century Menorah, brass screws, 10 k gold and sterling silver rivets.

The Shamash is fixed on the left side of the frame to prevent it from being lost or stolen.

Photo Credit for these images: Philip Cohen

Dimensions: 21.75” H x 23” W x 3.5” D

Uneasy Beauty - Original, Personal, and Provocative

Uneasy Beauty at the Fuller Craft Museum
Last week, I was 3,000 miles and a world away from today.  Saturday, October 13 was dedicated to my first visit to the Fuller Craft Museum and the opening reception for the exhibition "Uneasy Beauty." The whole day was a rich experience. Why was it worth traveling 3,000 miles? Why even go to an opening reception? 

Uneasy Beauty CoverFirst, true confessions.  I went to this opening because there are too many times when I wonder why I make my artwork.  Perhaps like many artists, I spend so much time alone in my studio, experimenting on yet another vague and uncertain idea . . .  and wondering why should I try so hard or care so much
.  At such times, I can remember this opening and the images of my artwork on a brilliant fuschia wall at the Fuller Craft Museum (above.) The photo of my Black Plastic Gyre Boa-Constrictor was on the cover of the catalog for "Uneasy Beauty" as well. 

Wow!  It does indeed feel good to see this exhibition in person.  And the bonus honor to have my work featured in this way doesn't come that often. So, if and when I find myself at that uncomfortable, uneasy moment working in the studio, struggling, pushing, testing unwilling materials to look like something unexpected, a little shot of memories from the Fuller Craft Museum opening will help me push forward with the challenge.

At the opening events: It was a real treat to see old friends and meet new fellow makers (shown below).

(left to right) Masako Onodera, Boris Bally, Curator Suzanne Ramljak, Harriete Estel Berman, Holland Houder


Brave 4: Breast Plate, 2013
Boris Bally
gun triggers, gun bolts, and gun barrels, brass shells, stainless cord, 925 silver 26" x 11 1/2" x 2"

Notice that (in the photo above) Boris Bally is wearing his gun triggers necklaces so well with pride and bravado. They echoed the uneasy beauty of his Brave 4: Breast Plate necklace in the exhibition (left.) 

I finished and wore a smaller, special version of the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace (above) just in time for the opening.   (It filled 85% of my largest suitcase and was definitely not a carry-on option.)  I can't understand why jewelry artists don't take the chance to wear some amazing examples of their work at openings.  It is sharing your work with an appreciative audience.


Spoiler, 2009

Erica Spitzer Rasmussen
cotton, buttons, handmade paper, human hair
27" x 18" x 9"



The exhibition "Uneasy Beauty" has become my favorite exhibition in a very long time. Curated by Suzanne Ramljak, she carefully selected the artwork to be original, personal, and provocative. The exhibition overall and the individual artworks always surprised, expanded, shifted one's thoughts addressing diverse, difficult subjects.  But first, you were captivated and drawn in by the beauty of individual objects. 

(I will include a selection of images taken at the Uneasy Beauty exhibition in this post.)




Elegy by Sally von Bargen
The center brass disc says: "this elegy of truth-these lot treasures - lies brought this lament."

I wish that I could share an image of every artwork in the exhibition. 

Not one artwork was a dud. That in itself is an accomplishment. There are times that you go to a show, and there are pieces that you wonder, "how did that get in?"

Come on, admit it! We've all been to exhibitions where some of the work just does not measure up to the quality of the other art or craft. 






Elegy  (close-up image), 2008
Sally von Bargen
brass, paper, digital photographs, paint
10" x 18" x 4" 

In "Uneasy Beauty" nothing disappoints the viewer either visually or conceptually.  Powerful artwork demanded thoughtful introspection such as Elegy by Sally von Bargen. ( I assume that these are photos of military personnel that have lost their lives, but I have not been able to confirm this.) 

If you can possibly go to this "Uneasy Beauty" exhibition before the closing date of April 21, 2019, I recommend you go out of your way or at least purchase the catalog.  



Uneasy Beauty exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA

Another striking aspect of this exhibition was the installation of the artwork.

There were subcategories for the organization of the work in the exhibition. (These same categories organize the artwork in the catalog.) The subcategory titles on the wall really helped with the visual flow of looking at the work. For example, under the Victim Fashion category, Spoiler (shown above) by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen hung on the wall near a pregnancy shaped corset by April Dauscha (left) or bra undergarments by Mimi Smith (below right.)

Protector Against Illness: Black Tamoxifen Bra, 1996
Mimi Smith
nylon, lace tamoxifen pills, acrylic paint, satin hanger 16" x 15"










Another superb example of the thoughtful installation of the artwork was one display case with four different collars by three artists.  White fabric shirt collars by Anika Smulovitz, silver Corporate Collar by Edward Lane McCartney and a worn black fabric Object of Mourning collar by Renee Zettle-Sterling held a close conversation when grouped together in a case.

White Collar #9                                      Corporate Collar                          Object of Mourning:Impermanence#3
Anika Smulivitz                               Edward Lane McCartney              Renee Zettle-Sterling

Mellitus Bracelets Installation, 2011
Doug Bucci
Mellitus bracelets, process installation, insulin pump, and Continuous Glucose Monitoring transmitter

There were many more excellent artworks within the exhibition. Doug Bucci's red Mellitus Bracelets Installation was one of my favorites. He doesn't hold back from sharing the personal experience of wearing an insulin pump as the most modern of accessories. What can be more uneasy and challenging than dealing with a life-threatening disease, and the impact of constructive or destructive lifestyle decisions? The presentation of the three red 3-d printed bracelets was very effective both visually and conceptually.  

During the evening events at the Fuller Craft MuseumSuzanne Ramljak gave an insightful slide lecture,....though perhaps a bit long, this slide lecture provided context for the selection of artwork. I love listening to lectures like this. I want to see gears working, the stretch that curator's take to pull together a diverse group of work.

This is a show worth seeing.     



My Dear, 2015
Masako Onodera
repurposed fur coat, parts from silver-plated coffeepot, oxidized, thread
12" x 7" x 50"



Fabulous and heart-stopping news!

Uneasy Beauty Cover

Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa shown on a mannequinFabulous and heart-stopping news! That is what I would call it when Curator Suzanne Ramljak told me that they were using a photo (left) of the my Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa for the cover of the catalog "Uneasy Beauty" (shown above).
How did Suzanne know about this image? Because Suzanne discovered it on an ASK Harriete blog post Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?  
The post covered several of the mannequin shots taken on one of the photo shoot days. Maybe, out of 50 mannequin shots, Philip Cohen and I  had winnowed them down to five images. An exceptionally painful irony was that I usually only buy a few photos of each genre and had not purchased that one image, neither was it sent it to Suzanne Ramljak at an earlier deadline.....so back to my photographer Philip Cohen to buy another image. 

Being featured on the cover of the catalog is good fortune but also at least partially a result of two approaches that any artist can take for their own art or craft.

The first one is diving deep into an idea without reservation or hesitation. Going all out. Making an artwork for an exhibition without compromise is not the same as art or craft made for your customers. I believe it is necessary to put blinder's on and ignore market influences. Consumer tastes can be superficial, trendy, or financially motivated.  In contrast, speaking purely from your own artist's voice amplifies the potential to stretch into uncharted waters. Magnify a vision far beyond "average." Fabricate your dream. Whether this work will sell or not is irrelevant to the artist's vision. 

Black-plastic-braceletWhen Suzanne Ramljak and I were discussing work for this show I showed her a bracelet
(right) made from black plastic waste. I told her that I had dreamed of making a much larger version.  She encouraged this direction, pursue that dream and I  proceeded to make a Black Plastic Necklace Boa that was 26 feet long with my entire force of nature, full blast every available second of the day or night for two months. My family and I had to survive the two months of craziness. I took the deadlines seriously. 

HB61-9089_EmailFileThe other approach is planning the photography. Documentation and vision of the photos, while the artwork is in progress, can really help create a successful photographic image.  The quote from Louis Pasteur always comes to mind for me, "Chance favors the prepared mind."  What are the possible uses for the photo?  Can a close-up, full view, plain white paper background, model or experiment capture the artist's intent?  One photographic approach may be appropriate for a specific situation, and the model shot takes the photography in another direction. 

It is super exciting to have my work on the cover of the catalog. Super thanks to Suzanne Ramjlak who had confidence in my work to invite me to make something unknown for the show. She had unbridled optimism for the artist's vision without restriction. 

Black Plastic Necklace Boa from black plastic trash.The Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa will also be on the entry wall of the exhibition (I've been told) but will have to see for myself at the Fuller Craft Museum opening.  If you live near by or will be visiting Boston, I hope you will be able to see this exhibition.

At the Fuller Craft Museum, there will be a related exhibition in another gallery by MassArt students: Discomfort Zone: Fashion and Adornment from MassArt.  During the opening evening, there will be a live model presentation of some of the student works during the event. 

The festivities begin at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, with a not-to-be-missed Curatorial Lecture by Suzanne Ramljak! Who doesn't want to peer into the mind of the curator?  I for one can't wait!!! I am traveling 3,000 miles so I can get there really early.  Look for me there.


Uneasy Beauty Reception Invitation



More Information about the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace can be found on my website.

Previous Posts in this series about photographing the Black Plastic Gyre Necklace Boa:

Photography -- Model Challenges & Working Out the Details

Photography -- Mannequin Needed! Rent, Buy, or Borrow? Basic or Stylized?

Photography and The Plain White Background

Photography - More than Documentation?


The Power of Your Dollar

Politics in America is now front and center. You can't avoid a political discussion whether you lean to the right or the left.

Illy COFFEEPOT a symbol of political protestOur country was founded on political action.
 One of the earliest political actions by American colonists was a boycott by colonial women who stopped buying tea because it was taxed by England. This is why to this day, coffee is more popular in America than tea. Boycotting tea was a political statement.  "No taxation without representation" became the voice of American political activism almost 250 years ago.
I try not to politicize the information on ASK Harriete, but I just can not stay silent as the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are in jeopardy -- despite their negligible impact on the budget accounting for only 0.003% of federal spending.  That is 3/1,000 th of a tax penny.
"The NEA and NEH are vital to innovation and creative expression, cultural and artistic understanding, and scholarly research. The NEA and NEH support cultural institutions like museums, libraries, universities, and public television and ensure that all Americans have access to arts and culture." Your local or national art organizations have probably received NEA grants at one time or another. Your local PBS station is definitely dependent on NEA or NEH funding.  
Elain-Salinger-HuddleThis February in a Huddle, I learned that the current administration intends to divert funding from a wide range of education and cultural programs (including the NEA and NEH) to fund the production of more nuclear weapons. (This shocking shift in priorities was announced at a town hall meeting in San Mateo with U.S. Representative Jackie Spier.)
Learning from our colonial ancestors, the power of the dollar can affect politics and the art and craft community. I am using postcards of my art for writing to all my Senators and Representatives. Save funding for the arts!

Collect Your Money Pin by Harriete Estel Berman“Women hold the purse strings — this has been true for a long, long time.”  "There are many steps that each of us can take that cost us nothing and take no time. One is to boycott T___P brands. Brand specialist "Shannon Coulter began a boycott campaign on Twitter with #GrabYourWallet.... "  A spreadsheet (linked below) lists over 50 companies to boycott based on whether the company sells T____p products," etc.

"The list includes Macy’s, LL Bean, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Zappos, Amazon, T. J. Maxx, Lord & Taylor, and Bed Bath & Beyond." "Companies such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Jet, have been removed from the list after they stopped carrying Trump products." Use your dollars wisely. You can choose to buy or not buy T____p products, boycott stores, or call customer service desks and let them know your opinion.

The power of the dollar is in your pocket.
 Yes, your pocket. How do you spend your dollars? Or align your art and craft with your political allegiance?  In this polarized, dismantling of the arts and education trend, everything has become political.
This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending


Here’s What You Can Do To Protect National Arts And Culture Funding
 from the Huffington Post

TRUTH an artwork by Harriete Estel Berman
TRUTH - an artwork in progress.



Honesty at Gun Point, Kickstarter a Shot in the Dark

Guns-for-artistsIn March 2016 Boris Bally invited me to participate in an upcoming exhibition titled, "Imagine, Peace Now."  All of the artists were to be given an inoperable handgun and asked to make an artwork addressing gun violence in America. A previous post shared my artwork.

I have known Boris for at least 28 years (maybe more) and am a big fan of his work with recycled traffic signs. The range of Bally's work is backed up by exquisite craftsmanship, sophisticated aesthetic, bravado, integrity, work ethic and sometimes even outspoken opinions. Go Boris!


Picasso -Guernica
Guernica by Pablo Picasso. 1937. Oil on canvas.

Obviously I have the utmost respect for Boris, but beyond that, I believe, I BELIEVE,  I BELIEVE that artists and makers can send a message with their work. Indeed, some of the most famous artworks of history resonate with political and social messages.


Imagine-Peace-Now-logoIn this post, Boris Bally shares his experience putting together a show with a theme about gun violence.
It is always enlightening to hear from the voice of experience. Boris enlightens all of us about the challenges of an invitational and juried show, the lessons learned from organizing an exhibition, finding exhibition locations, and mistakes made along the way.

Putting together a show is in itself a noble effort and a time intensive commitment powered by passion. Boris raised funds through Kickstarter for a print catalog for the show.  A Kickstarter campaign is kind of like a Sisyphus challenge -- it seems endless and always requiring more effort.  There are many successfully funded projects, but it requires a great deal of support. Boris tells more about this too.


Imagine-Peace-Now-pinThank you to everyone who made a contribution for the catalog and the influential voice of artists and makers speaking out about a politically hot topic.  A dollar or five dollars may show the power of the arts to speak up about a life threatening issue.  If you can afford it, a larger donation gets a Kickstarter reward (left), but every dollar counts.  

Below my questions are in red bold followed by Boris Bally's responses. Included in this post are a selection of artworks to be exhibited in Imagine, Peace Now.

What have you learned from organizing this show?

Andrew Hayes

The show organization has lots of detail and complexity. An ongoing challenge has been to insist on following the original rules and guidelines initially set forth -- by treating all artists fairly and equally. Occasionally, this gets put to the test and it is a difficult decision. I am reminded that, by nature, artists don’t pay attention to the basic details: deadlines, artwork constraints and sometimes there is pressure to make exceptions to rules. This show is teaching me to be firm, yet diplomatic.





Did the work submitted for the show surprise you?

Hoss Haley

I am surprised by the amazing individuality and talent displayed in these pieces. So many angles -- the various approaches to the theme which is fairly narrow in scope but has so many strong opinions tied to it. However, the broad spectrum of quality astounds me.

Some of the better known artists have submitted what I consider a lazy stab at the topic and devoted little energy (I am withholding names -- it will become apparent when the show is on display). A few of the lesser known artists have given the project 150% and used their full creative arsenal with a lot of thought and energy in their pieces.

I am surprised how many METALsmiths have chosen to keep the gun as a whole, rather than to manipulate or reconfigure the gun’s materials. Certainly a big part of this was the barrier of working with a frighteningly ‘loaded’ (metaphorically) and often unfamiliar object.

Of course you love every entry, but did you hope that people would address one specific issue about gun violence rather than just use the gun parts for adornment or shapes?

Ka-Bloom by April Wood

I definitely do NOT love every entry. However, I was pleased by the range of topical involvement. Even adornment using gun components can make powerful statements with sensitivity, hopefully making people think about guns in a different way.

Surprisingly, no entry glorified guns despite the extreme range in severity of anti-violence statements. I did not want to censure anyone, rather hoping to engage and elicit conversations -- which hopefully lead to involvement and action. The work that spoke to me the most was that which worked off the actual statistics, or the specific gun laws and transformed these into art that helps viewers to comprehend the emotions, the flaws and the sheer magnitude of the issues at stake.


How did you find show venues?

Christine Clark

I wrote to many of the venues that hosted my first gun show. Several had changed leadership or were not able to meet a rapid deadline (my initial goal was to get this into a showing before election day). The first venue that signed on, The Society of Arts and Crafts, did so quickly, supportively, and without question. Fabio Fernández and Luiza deCamargo believed in my project given our history of working together in the past. After they signed on, Bob Ebendorf, Barbara McFadden and Gerald Weckesser made a strong case for the show at ECU despite the Director’s initial hesitations. I am so pleased to be able to open the show at the gallery and will be featured during the Materials Symposium where I initially made the big decision to move forward with IMAGINE.


What has been the hardest part about starting a Kickstarter Campaign to fund the catalog?
Christine-ClarkIt took at least two months to prepare the incentives (which are required) and to produce the video (very helpful). I interviewed several successful KS campaign candidates for advice. It took lots of planning to lay the groundwork of what I was asking for, how I would ask, becoming familiar with the platform, the incentives, the up-loading process and the rules. The most worrisome component was that KS lists in the rules that weapons are not allowed.

They would not directly answer my questions when I asked them, in advance, if the project to go on. They said, "just apply and you will see if it gets accepted.” That was very nerve racking -- should I put all this into something that they will later not accept?

The amount of mail I receive has been daunting -- SO Much from various PR firms that promise funding help. Also I have been writing non-stop begging folks for support. It is an uncomfortable position to be in, but on the up-side, it does benefit the artists in the show.

What do you think is important about a print catalog as compared to just a digital version? 

Safe House by Stephen Yusko

Obviously, both have their place. I am old-fashioned in believing that a print catalog circulates in different ways than digital. It ‘sits’ on tables and can be easily browsed without batteries or glare. The essays will provide for some interesting reading that will lay the framework for the show and the publication. A book becomes a collectible, an ‘artifact’ just like the physical works in the show. Books have such a rich history and I believe, still a place in the libraries of our homes / offices. A book becomes a ‘presentation’ of the content -- like an exhibition . . . and a nice way to view an exhibition if you can’t be there in person to get the real time show. But, if we do not get the funding for a print catalog, we will try to get funding to do the downloaded one. (still a big expense)

How did you even estimate the cost of the print catalog?
Stephen-Yusko-side-viewI didn’t want to create a low-end catalog again, after having done this for my first show, ‘Artists of a Different Caliber’ back in ’97. Been there done that. Thought I would see if we can get a major, museum quality book going, to give the show some extra credibility in the high-end art world. I still believe we can do this. Of course, all the artists in the show get a complimentary catalog and also a discount on initial orders of future copies.


What is a Kickstarter Campaign financial picture?
The $50,000 estimate for the KS campaign breaks down as follows:

  • $5,000   Kickstarter and Credit card fees lop off about 10% in fees, so now we are down to $45k
  • $13,000 getting high and low actual print costs (based on 2,000 copies @ 100 pages @ 8.5 x 11” with neat binding)
  • Roughly 1,100 catalogs would go to fulfill the donations on KS so we will have leftovers to give artists and to sell at the venues.
  • Our high estimate was $26k - we did have one for $86k but threw that out -- and lowest was $11k.
  • $6,000 our photographer gave us an estimate of $5k- $8k for reshooting the art (depending on the quality of what we receive -- all work -- or any work that needed to be reshot)
  • $3,000 our designer gave us a cost of $3,000 for the whole project, including the logo. This is a steal considering she will also be working with the photographer.
  • $1,000 video honorarium for KS/ advertising
  • $20,000 incentives costs for the campaign range (depending on quantity of pledges) between $15k- $28k. These are for producing the keychains, pins and platters, etc.
  • $2,000 padding-in case I screw up. (minimal payment for my time if I do not)

What are your regrets:

Linda Savineau

I wish I had not promised invited entrants would get their work included in the show, despite the jury process/ decisions. There were a few pieces that should not have been included due to major technical issues or minimal effort.

What are your hopes:
After the second venue, we regroup the show into a tighter, more focused grouping culling to perhaps 50 pieces to travel to a variety of venues. At that point, I would welcome new entries to ‘refresh’ the show while distilling the show to its most powerful examples.

To the readers of ASK Harriete, I ask, What is the power of art? Review the Kickstarter Campaign for Imagine Peace Now    It needed 31, 284 $1.00 donations. That is a lot.

But as an alternative, the catalog is fully funded with 6,257 $5.00 donations. That could happen in one day, with your help.  

What shocks me is the amount of money the NRA spends on lobbying and political campaigns. According to OpenSecrets, a site that tracks money in politics, the NRA spent $984,152 on campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle. It also spent more than $3 million on lobbying in both 2013 and 2014. How much do you think the N.R.A.is spending on the upcoming election? 

So can you give the cost of a cup of coffee so the arts can raise it's voice about gun violence?

(P.S. I'd like to add more information about the images but didn't have the title for all the artworks. Please feel welcome to email me with the titles.)

This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.



Can You Connect Me with a Good, Simple Exhibition Contract?

Yes!  The Professional Guidelines includes a sample Exhibition Contract.

Exhibition-Contract-page1-2This Exhibition Contract is specifically tailored for an exhibition where the gallery or exhibition space will be showing work for a limited period of time (with no expectation of an on-going representation). 

If an exhibition space doesn't have a contract, then suggest using this Exhibition Contract so that both the sponsor and your artwork are protected. I prefer to think of a contract as a checklist to facilitate a discussion of issues in advance that can help to avoid potential problems or friction.  As in any contract, it must be mutually agreeable. And of course, everything is negotiable.  The contract can be modified or edited so that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement. 

Established exhibition spaces are likely to have their own Exhibition Contract. It that case you can compare their contract to this Exhibition Contract from the Professional Guidelines to look for issues that may have been overlooked or that you might think are important in protecting your art or craft.

What if your local arts organization wants to organize an exhibition? Use this Exhibition Contract to establish a great working relationship between the artists and the exhibition sponsor.   



ExhibitionsArtistChecklist2010_Page_1Looking for more guidance about whether an exhibition is "right" for your professional goals?  

Check out the Professional Guidelines document  Exhibitions: Artist Checklist.








CONDITIONreportSending your work to an exhibition?  Use the Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines.  

Learn how to use a condition Report on ASK Harriete (in a future post.) 


Subscribe to ASK Harriete
in the upper left column so you don't miss a single post.  Your email will never be sold or used for anything but providing you with ASK Harriete information. 



P.S. The Professional Guidelines were written with the help and guidance of many professionals in the field from artists, makers, gallery owners, and collectors.

Do you see a need for a particular topic?
Let me know.  

Are you interested in helping write a document offering your words of experience? Write to me anytime.  

How about editing? I could definitely use a proof reader. 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

Adventures in ArtLand

Every so often after working really hard, an artist's professional role includes going to an exhibition opening . . . maybe, even at some distant location.  When such events arise, I am often tortured trying to make a decision about whether it is worth the expense and time to travel to the opening.  

How should one justify the time and expense for going to an opening? I am not sure, but when my artwork is in a museum exhibition in New York City, the opening seems like something of a bigger deal . . . but the "adventure" is much scarier, more expensive, and oh so many thousands of miles away.  I deliberated with myself extensively, but when the curator said that I could stay at her house....I had to say "yes." 

Harriete-Estel-Berman-San-FranciscoTraveling by myself is a real challenge for me.  Serious effort.  I'd much rather stay at home, work in the studio and exercise until I fall over exhausted than navigate subways and trains or eat in a restaurant by myself. Two weeks ago, one of these art adventures tested my endurance -- and I survived. In retrospect is was an empowering experience.

Wayne-Theibaud-Painting-San-FraniciscoMy departure started at the San Francisco airport at 5:00 a.m.  However my not yet caffeinated mind spotted this painting by Wayne Thiebaud titled, "18th Street Downgrade" near my gate. The depiction of San Francisco's roller coaster hills reflected my heart pounding anxiety. My adventure had begun.  

Why go to an opening? Is it worth it
In retrospect, one good reason to go to an opening is to see your own artwork with new eyes. Instead of the humble circumstances in a studio laying on the work bench half formed, I saw my work installed magnificently and gloriously surrounded by powerful and interesting work by other artists.10 plagues 008

The installation of my artwork was just amazing. My quick cell phone photos do not capture the presence or atmosphere. 

Blight-10-plaque-Evil-Exhbition-ShotThe exhibition Evil: A Matter of Intent and the installations were truly of the best caliber. The organization, layout, and the lighting consistently enhanced the work.

Water-pollution-blood-10 plaguesIt is impossible to show how exquisitely my artwork was lit to enhance the intent of the work. The blades of withered grass on Blight-World Hunger (left) had extra shadows. Blood-Water Pollution (right) had watery red reflections (just like water) bouncing onto the wall. 

The vision brought to life by the  curator and the professional installation staff was evident. I've seen my artwork displayed many times in 35+ years....and I've come to appreciate the superior skills and evident expertise that museum and exhibition staff bring to bear on how to install artwork.  Their talents are all too often underestimated.

Thank you to everyone who was living in or visiting New York that made it a priority to view Evil: A Matter of Intent.

This week in November of 2015, another adventure begins.  This time to Washington D.C. for the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Below is shot of the invitation that arrived in the mail. Gold embossed lettering on a thick square of dense cardboard. This memorable invitation seemed too special to miss. My cocktail outfit is ready in my suitcase.




This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


"Uncommon Couture" - How Do I Decide About Participation in an Exhibition?

Artists and makers frequently have to make decisions about participation in shows, exhibitions or competitions. Depending on your experience, time and finances the criteria will change and evolve.

AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x

In the past, I've had work in an exhibition titled, "Uncommon Couture" that just opened at the Florida Craft Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. I've had other work in a separate show that opened Saturday, September 12, 2015, titled, Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. 

Recently with the up-tic in the economy, I am much surprised by the number of invitations to participate in exhibitions.   With each opportunity the question arises, "How should I decide about participation?" -- sort of like "to be or not to be" in each one.


One of my hard and fast rules about participation (actually my #1 minimum requirement) is insurance at the venue.  After much experience (good and bad), I have chosen this requirement as a measure of whether the sponsor has their act together.   The issues surrounding insurance have been discussed at length in several previous posts.  

“We all hope that the insurance coverage isn't needed, but it is just this guarantee to the artist that raises professional exhibitions above the lower level venues and events.  Participating artists are assured that their work will be protected with superior handling AND will have a "back up plan" (i.e. insurance) in case of damage.”

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

The need for insurance at a show can be a "red hot" topic leading to heated discussions on occasion. This really isn't about whether you have business insurance in your studio. [Yes, I have business insurance.]  This is about a minimum professional standard in an event that characterizes itself as something above the day-to-day mundane -- is this a real "show" or is it just a hangout.

Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanIn previous posts, I have gone on record saying "no insurance, no show. "Competitions or exhibitions that do not provide insurance are for the hobbyist/amateur level such as the county fair, a display at the mall or at the local library, as just a few examples."  In these venues the artist/maker assumes all the risk.   Often, these artist/makers are just beginning to accumulate experience in showing or selling their work. 


I understand that insurance is an expense that is getting very expensive. But in my opinion, every exhibition or opportunity needs to consider insurance as a demarcation of professionalism and a minimum accommodation to attract the best work. Providing insurance is a reflection upon the exhibition sponsor's expectation for the quality of work to be shown. 

We need to stand together supporting professional standards. No insurance, no show.

If you are invited to participate in any situation where you are sending your work to a location outside of your control, then you have a reasonable expectation that the sponsor will provide insurance.

  • Read the contract.
  • Raise the issues with exhibition sponsors.
  • Learn how to establish appropriate insurance values (in a future post.)

All of the images above in this post have been exhibited at "Uncommon Couture" at Florida Art Craft Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Exhibition dates: August 28-October 24, 2015

Location: Florida Art Craft Gallery
501 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Silicon Valley from the California Collection at the Richmond Art Center

Thanks to those who joined me on Saturday at the Richmond Art Center at the opening for Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art  5 - 7 pm, free and open to the public. 
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804
Open until November 15th, 2015


This post was update on December 10th, 2021.                                             

OREO Unlock the Magic Bracelet in Yellow, purple at Uncommon Couture.Oreo “Unlock the Magic”

Photo Credit:  Steven Brian Samuels 
previously at "Uncommon Couture"



Yellow Bracelet with orange dots, super thin.

Reverse side: “America Online” dark blue & white address label.
previously at "Uncommon Couture"


Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

Red Hot Flower Pin
Recycle post consumer tin cans & plastic.

previously at "Uncommon Couture"


Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanTotally to the Point Flower Pin
Recycled post consumer tin cans & plastic.

previously at "Uncommon Couture"



Silicon Valley Jewelry from the California Collection by Harriete Estel Berman

Silicon Valley from the California Collection 
Three bracelets displayed in a custom made wooden fruit crate. Bracelets and fruit crate label constructed from recycled tin containers, 10k gold rivets, aluminum rivets.
Currently at Richmond Art Center "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art"

Additional work at  "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art" include: 
Santa Rosa Bracelets Bermaid Santa Rosa
Bermaid Santa Rosa Bracelets and fruit crate display

Recycled Fruit Crate and necklace from recycled materials

Recycle from the California Collection
Recycled Fruit Label from recycled tin cans BermanRecycledcollar72  Berman Recycled Bracelets from Recycle the California Collections

De-Installation Without the Artist on Site

If you want your art or craft to travel the world, then unpacking, installation, de-installation, and repacking are crucial issues to anticipate before the artwork or craft leaves your studio.

De-Installation of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin

Most of us don't have staff who can travel with the artwork for repacking.

My artwork has to travel without me. Therefore I always include detailed Unpacking, Installation, De-Installation and repacking instructions with my artwork when it is shipped out. That is an important concept for every artist and maker who want their artwork to travel to new exhibition opportunities.

But for my very large work, Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, I realized that a more effective outreach demo for prospective exhibition locations was needed. That is why I created this presentation on YouTube:

With links to the installation and de-installation I am ready to demonstrate in a couple of minutes. Now the challenge is to find exhibition locations.

Packing up the pencils from the installation about education Pick Up Your Pencils, Begini
In this photo, my son and I are laying the pencils
in the custom made paper envelope designed for storage and shipping.

P.S. As anyone who has organized a show with tell you, repacking the work for return shipping is a nightmare. You can hear what French Thompson had to say in this interview with me, Harriete Estel Berman on Jay Whaley Metalsmith Bench Talk on Blog Talk Radio. (Listen while you work with this archived version.)

A previous ASK Harriete post - "Finding Exhibition Opportunities - Instructions for Unpacking, Assembly, Display, and Re-Packing" offered detailed examples for shipping Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.

Behind the Scenes, Design, Rolling Up, Packing UP Your Art and Craft for Shipping

Previous posts and SlideShare Presentations
have focused on designing your art or craft for shipping. I firmly believe that if we want our artwork to travel safely, securely and without breaking, or costing an arm and a leg, then artists and makers need to design their work for shipping.
Harriete Estel Berman rolling up pencils for safe shipping of artwork Pick Up Your Pencils Begin

Planning in advance during the design phase can improve the likelihood that your work will arrive safely and securely. This is not saying that the artist changes the art or craft in design, concept or aesthetic. What I am recommending is that thinking ahead will save you heartache, tears, storage space and shipping expenses.

My vision for the artwork Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin took five years to bring to fruition, yet, all along, I knew that if I wanted it to leave my studio, it had to pack up as compactly, store easily, and ship without problems.

Considerations included pedestrian problems like:

  • making sure the artwork arrives safely without damage (In this case, I couldn't even have a pencil point break - talk about challenges);
  • making sure the weight of the boxes are manageable for one person (usually me) to pick up and carry;
  • storage allowance will be as compact as possible;
  • installation and repacking are relatively easy for others to execute without me. (More about this soon.)

Here is a presentation about rolling up the artwork for safe shipping and compact storage. What do you think about the recommendations? Any suggestions, corrections or confusion?

Below are links to presentations about designing your work and packing for shipping. Principles in these lectures can be applied to shipping anything.
This is a large PDF with lots of pictures...give it time to download.

Custom Shipping Box /Design Your Work for Shipping
The 2012 PDS "Ins and Outs of Shipping (includes 9 presentations about shipping)

Please consider sharing by copying the link to the presentation or handouts and writing your own original content to avoid "duplicate content". A comment or review is all you need for improved SEO. Do not copy and distribute this information without permission from the author.

SlideShare for Exhibition Opportunities

During the past two weeks I dedicated special efforts to creating SlideShare presentations about my artwork Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.
Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin discusses the impact of standardized testing on education.by HThese efforts were way over due...the artwork has been finished for a while, but admittedly, I was confused about my objective for the Installation, and De-Installation presentations. How could I possibly squeeze in all the images and information in one presentation?

So instead of creating one presentation, I created several presentations each with a different objective.

My first goal was to make this 28 foot wide by 15 foot tall installation seem less intimidating to prospective exhibition locations.

Harriete Estel Berman Looking UP during installation of Pick Up Your Pencils, BeginiAll those exhibition venues, from big musuems to smaller non-profit spaces, are dealing with the impact of a weak economy, lower membership, and increasing expenses. They compensate by reducing expenses such as shipping and installation costs of exhibitions. The perception is that the bigger an installation, the more labor it takes and the more it costs.

An exhibition that fills the room (e.g. one that it is 28 feet wide and 15 feet tall) may look like it needs a moving van to ship. It occurred to me that perhaps this monument to #2 pencils, could cause curatorial staff to have serious budgetary concerns.

So this SlideShare presentation is an effort to dispel these concerns by talking about the pedestrian aspects of installing and exhibiting the artwork.

But then I realized that other audiences would really enjoy this short presentation.  Potentially a much bigger audience. Doesn't everyone these days love seeing the action behind the scenes?

Creating this SlideShare also means that I can share my artwork with a wider more diverse audience. What you think?

INSTALLATION Details for Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin is one of 30+ presentations that can be found on my SlideShare Harriete Estel Berman
Tomorrow's post is about designing your work for shipping.

P.S. My visit to SlideShare last week  to test their user interface was featured on the SlideShare Blog! TALK ABOUT sharing work with a new audience. 

Selling Craft Before Its Time

"Some things can't be rushed, good music, good wine,"*good craft, and finding your own artistic voice.

The recent Metalsmith Bench Talk discussion; The GOOD, The BAD, and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet was discussed by Ronna Sarvas Weltman on her Facebook page.

AncientmodernShe recounted an experience with a past student who had second thoughts about selling what was based on one of the projects from her book, Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay and Wire Jewelry.

Below is a quote from Weltman's post:
"If you are making things for yourself and/or friends and not selling it, people look upon that with more grace, since you’re not trying to profit from another artist’s ideas. But once money and the marketplace enters into the quotient, everything changes. And collectors can get really annoyed if they discover what they bought, thinking it was a fresh voice, was in fact copying or at least an obvious derivative of another artist’s work."

"Moreover, and even more important for you as you go forward, if you’re stopping at a place where your art is obviously imitative, then you’re selling yourself short by stopping before you’ve found your own voice in your art."

Aligned with Ronna Weltman's post, I want to focus on a recommendation from my interview and the lecture; The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet.

Do not sell or exhibit work derived from tutorials, workshops, or books.


Just like creating fine wine, creating good work, finding your own voice and cultivating a healthy, innovative, craft marketplace all require time.

A craft marketplace filled with derivative work does not present the consumer with the best of media, or the best of a maker. 

In addition to the collector's regret if purchased items are "derivative of another artist’s work" (which will likely to become public knowledge), the maker is selling prematurely before their time. Once an artist or maker enters the marketplace, the consumer ends up having a profound influence on your work.

I say this with the voice of experience, not judgement. Every time you sell work, no matter where, or at what level, the customer requests bigger, smaller, less expensive, and more or less they want to include their ideas. I'd say this happens 80% of the time. It takes a a lot of core strength to remember who you are, and why you make something to resist the lure and influence of ustomers/clients/collectors requests.
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander     Model: Stephanie Reisfeld

Here is a real life story:
I have been creating my work in a signature style and technique for 30+ years and yet, a well known gallery that I have worked with for many years approached me because a "collector" wanted an example of my work. They then proceeded to tell me exactly how big it could be, and that it had to have pictures of a particular animal on it.  Does anyone see the irony of a collector wanting an artist's work and then telling the artist what to make?

The point is that in the marketplace the client often wants to tell you what to make. Michelangelo regularly ran into this problem. John Singer Sargent stopped painting his fabulous portraits because he couldn't stand the customer telling him how and what to paint. Listen to this video about James Whistler's blue Peacock Room - a "clash of art and commerce."  "The birds faced each other, on ground strewn with silver shillings, as if about to fight."  Whistler titled the mural Art and Money; or, the Story of the Room as it became a physical embodiment of the struggle for the artists integrity while making a living.

The-Gold-ScabIf Whistler is experiencing the struggle, "the seemingly constant conflict between the desire of unfettered artistic liberty and the basic requirement to earn enough to have shelter and to put bread on the table" what will happen to the inexperienced maker prematurely selling their craft with undue influence from the marketplace?

Sell no craft before its time.*

P.S. This discussion topic is not a topic limited to the United States. It is fascinating that the topic is in Scotland as well. Quoting the words of The Justified Sinner in a discussion on Crafthaus. "I am suggesting that poorly-made and poorly-designed goods from anywhere are clouding the public perception of the marketplace for "handmade"."

Blue And White Tears

Have you ever thought that maybe it could be a good thing that you haven't sold some of your best work? By holding onto your finest artwork....perhaps the right collector or an important exhibition will come along. 

I never consider any of my exhibition work as "old" inventory.  I don't even call it "inventory" (except to the I.R.S.).  

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot from recycled tin cans printed with Blue and White ceramic patterns
Boston Chinese Tea    2005        Harriete Estel Berman

Here is one story and revelation:

Several years ago a "collector" purchased one of my favorite teapot sculptures, "Boston Chinese Tea".  I was thrilled. This one piece sold for enough to keep me out of the "red zone" in my accounting for several months.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot in Blue and White by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.  B
Read more about Boston Chinese Tea teapot here.

An artist always hopes that their work goes to a good home.  I also had the name and contact information of the collector to keep track of my work so that it could be loaned for an exhibition if invited.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot Handle from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

In early 2012, curator Emily Zilber from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston wanted to borrow Boston Chinese Tea for an upcoming show at the museum based on Chinese blue and white porcelain.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot detail constructed from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we both tried (along with some other people) to contact the collector, in every which way we could, the collector would not reply to the letters and emails.

My heart is broken weeping blue and white tears as the exhibition has opened at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and it looks magnificent. What an honor it would have been to participate in this show. It is very disappointing that my teapot could not be included.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin Cans.OUTdetail

Go to the Museum of Fine Arts website for a look at some of the work in the show. There are a few images from the show titled, NEW BLUE AND WHITE.

If you are lucky enough to visit or live near Boston, the show is up until July 14, 2013.

New-Blue-White at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

New-Blue-White LINK to the video by curator Emily ZilberXTo the left is an image, CLICK on it to go to the website, there is a link to an excellent video with Emily Zilber, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she discusses some of the work in the exhibition. It is definitely worth watching this short video.

Price your best work high enough to make it worth selling.

Always get the complete contact information of the collectors who buy your work.

Keeping your best work for an important exhibition may be key for building visibility and your professional reputation.

Know the value of your work even if it doesn't sell.

Value is not always determined by whether a piece sells.

P.S. There is more to say about this issue including the shocked look of the I.R.S. auditor. Stay tuned.  

SHOW MANAGEMENT is like Cultivating a Garden

Ever since starting this theme about craft shows and art festivals, readers have been sharing stories of chronic problems.

The vast majority of issues fall into one or more of four categories:

  • buy/sell merchandise
  • imported items competing with local artists
  • bad, sub-standard, low-quality displays
  • bad management

Each one of these categories deserves further illumination, but I am wondering ....How do these situations persist from show to show without resolution?

WeedingdandelionThe responsibility certainly lies with the craft show/art festival sponsor, but a bit lies also with the artists and makers. 
I see the situation as somewhat similar to cultivating a garden.  In a garden, some weeding and pruning are often required to promote healthy growth.  Likewise, our craft show participation needs to carefully cultivate what should be nurtured and what should be weeded out.  We are in control of our future, but only if we act accordingly.

PruningshearsArtists/makers can decide to decline participation in shows that do not have clear policies regarding buy/sell, imported merchandise, and minimum display standards. 

Examine show policies before applying.  Do not apply to a show that does not have minimum standards. Go one step further and write to the show organizer clarifying what you consider the minimum expectation. It may require pruning a show from your list of events for the coming year even if you made money last year. 

Do not support poorly managed shows with your money & time.

Pruning treeshearsThe same goes for show organizers. This job is not a popularity contest. Clear policies regarding the hot button issues of buy/sell, imports, and display are necessary. Just like cultivating a beautiful garden, strong pruning is often required for healthy growth. This includes eliminating sellers that do not meet minimum standards for selling studio-made merchandise in a reasonably attractive display and instituting policies that guarantee acceptance for top-quality sellers.

The limitations and clear expectations for show standards from both the artist/makers and the show organizers are important for a healthy future for craft.


Related articles:

6 STEPS to Craft Show Research

Responsibilities of Craft Show Organizers

Window Dressing for Booth Display Inspiration

This post was updated on July 1, 2022, to provide current links.

Ordinary, Extraordinary & Future of Craft

This Labor Day weekend I went to the King's Mountain Art Fair and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  The two venues provided both striking contrasts and similarities -- which raised questions that continue to reverberate in my brain.  The ordinary and the extraordinary coexist in both.  The absolute natural setting of an amazing redwood grove versus the man-made, credentialed establishment of a modern museum. 

Can you see the similarities and differences?

Kings Mountain Art Fair.

What issues do these photos raise?
The issues are varied and complex:

Is there a future for craft beyond D.I.Y.?

What is the economical model we are looking at here?

Can craft media makers make a viable living in craft media?

Can craft makers hope to achieve more than break-even? What is break-even?

Does selling at craft fairs reach your objectives?

Is there a future for craft fairs?

What is happening to the Galleries that sell craft media?

Will there ever be a craft media superstar?

Is it a bunch of baloney to say that making a living from craft is possible?

Does "handmade" have value anymore?

Should consumers pay what it costs makers to make?  

Can consumers be educated about why our work costs so much? Does it really matter?

In the next few posts, I intend to examine, discuss, and debate these issues.  Send comments and let me know your opinions, questions, and insights.


This post was updated on June 17, 2022.


Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS

Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, and Retail Price for exhibitions are sometimes confused usually because of inexperience and good intentions, but with negative consequences and hard feelings if an insurance claim becomes necessary.

This is why a recommendation will be made here.

ALWAYS CLEARLY WRITE DOWN on the exhibition contract:

CONDITIONreportI also write this on the Professional Guidelines Condition Report when I send my work to an exhibition.

Defining each term on the contract by a dollar value avoids confusion.

Here is an example:
RETAIL PRICE:            $ 3,000
$ 1,500

NEVER use the term "ARTIST PRICE" on a contract or in a discussion. The term "Artist Price" has too many definitions to be a reliable term. Interpretations of an "artist's price" range from a special discounted price off wholesale to a special retail price.

ALWAYS LIST THE RETAIL PRICE even if the exhibition sponsor does not have a space for it on the loan form. Write in the Retail Price yourself, if necessary, between the lines or in the margin.

If art or craft is borrowed from a collector that paid retail, then there is no wholesale price and the insurance value is the retail price.
RETAIL PRICE:            $ 3,000

Keep this as clear and straightforward as you can.

Recently I was in an exhibition at an established museum. An inexperienced intern was in charge of the exhibition paperwork (a cost-cutting measure that had huge consequences). The loan form from the museum only had a place to write the "insurance value". The artists wrote in the insurance value as the wholesale price. That is correct, but the museum then sold the artwork at those wholesale values instead of the retail prices. What a mess!  

This confusion didn't happen with my work because I wrote down both the retail price and wholesale price, but I do know that at least one artist had her work sold at wholesale! The artist lost the potential of establishing a new "higher retail price" for her work and the museum expected to pay the artist half the wholesale price. Bad news! The museum fixed the mistake at their loss. What a shame! A huge opportunity cost for everyone involved.

Avoid confusion. Always list the retail price, wholesale price, and insurance value on your contract and  Condition Report.


Previous posts about Insurance Value, Wholesale Price & Retail Price:

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money defines the terms.

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price for $HIPPING clarifies which value to use during shipping.

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money

What's the difference between Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, and Retail Price? Confusion is common, but it is important to understand the differences before shipping your work to an exhibition or elsewhere.  The consequences can be substantial -- we are possibly talking tears, frustration, embarrassment and real money.

You would not believe the stories I have heard from others and experienced myself.

Today's post provides the definition of each term. The next two posts will discuss in more depth some examples of deciding shipping insurance and confusion at exhibitions. Misunderstandings will likely cost you money and potential embarrassment.

Here are the definitions:

The RETAIL PRICE is what the gallery/store/exhibition sponsor lists as the purchase price in the catalog or on the “price list.” (We are ignoring "discounts" off retail in this post.)

The WHOLESALE PRICE is what the artist actually expects to receive as payment. This is sometimes called the “artist price”, but I'd recommend never using the term "artist price" because it may imply different things to different people.

If a gallery, exhibition sponsor or collector uses the term "artist price" I strongly recommend that you ask them to clarify what they mean. Sometimes a person uses the term "artist price" as some kind of special discounted price off retail or wholesale. Beware . . . you would not believe the long sad tales I have heard. Don't use the term "artist price".  

The INSURANCE VALUE may also be a confusing term. Most artists, galleries, and exhibition sponsors usually equate the insurance value as the wholesale price. Most insurance companies will only pay the artist the wholesale price if the work is lost, damaged or stolen during shipping or at an exhibition because this is what the artist would receive if the work was sold.

Insurance value steps up to the retail price as soon as the artwork is sold at retail. The invoice for purchase will be the documentation an insurance provider wants to see to establish the insurance value at the retail price.

This is true regardless of who sold the artwork at retail (whether an artist or gallery/store/exhibition sponsor). Insurance value will be full retail when the work is sold at retail.

The insurance value for a collector is either the purchase price or current market value in the marketplace. If the retail price of an artist's work has increased over the years, a collector may want to periodically check to be sure their insurance policy covers the current market value of the work in their collection. Some insurance companies may require an appraisal to establish insurance value. 

This is the beginning of the discussion. The next posts describe insurance value, wholesale price and retail price for shipping, and some real stories resulting from confusion with exhibitions.   These will be real stories, but I will try to keep it simple for clarity and to avoid revealing names of the innocent and the guilty.

Conversation U
from a series of 200 teacups titled "Consuming Conversation".

This is the image for a retrospective exhibition of my work that was on display from August 27, 2012 to September 28, 2012 at:

Kimura Gallery, University of Alaska Anchorage,

This post was updated on June 13, 2022, to provide current links.

Exhibition Opportunities for Metalsmiths

Push Yourself Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.  Two opportunities for exhibiting work with online and gallery exhibitions are listed below.

But before you apply, . . .
You could improve your application by reading one document in the Professional Guidelines;
TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine.



1) “Ferrous”- A Cooperative Exhibition between Velvet da Vinci Gallery (San Francisco) and Crafthaus (an online social network of artists and makers).

2)  "Holding Place: A Repository of Containers and Vessels"

MORE INFORMATION about both exhibitions is below.



Ferrous_logo_v2Ferrous -  Steel, iron, and pig iron: materials used by mankind for thousands of years. The Chinese were already making pig iron by the late Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 BC) and the usage of iron (Berlin Iron) in jewelry has been well documented.

Velvet Da Vinci Gallery and Crafthaus are joining forces to create a new exhibition of jewelry that brings ferrous materials into the contemporary realm. We are looking for artists from all countries who create jewelry in ferrous materials (iron, steel, stainless steel, and other iron alloys) or incorporate ferrous elements into their jewelry work.

There will be a catalog of the exhibition produced by Velvet Da Vinci with an essay by Jillian Moore. All participating artists will receive a complimentary copy. Additional copies can be purchased via the gallery.

Open to everyone. Crafthaus membership is NOT required!! International entries are welcome.

Exhibition dates: March 6 - April 6, 2013

Simultaneous exhibition at Velvet da Vinci Gallery, San Francisco, CA and Crafthaus.
For more information about FERROUS go to Crafthaus. 
Share this link with your friends: http://crafthaus.ning.com/group/ferrous



Holding Place: A Repository of Containers and Vessels by Metalsmiths Around the World

Illy COFFEEPOT by Harriete Estel Berman.One of the axioms of mathematics is that the container must be greater than the contained. Prove us right!

Ganoksin is pleased to announce its third annual International Online Jewelry Exhibition. This year's theme will be "Holding Place: A Repository of Containers and Vessels by Metalsmiths Around the World".

The exhibition is open to all metalsmiths, professional and amateur, advanced and beginner, around the world. All metal containers and vessels are eligible for entry. Examples include, but are not limited to, pill boxes, vases, bowls, pitchers, lockets, prayer boxes, and memento mori.

As this is an online exhibition the work will only be seen via the photographs metalsmith submit. It is therefore vital that these be in focus, on a neutral background (preferably not textured), and do an excellent job allowing the viewer to really see the piece and the workmanship involved. Any photographs not meeting exhibition standards will not be used, and the submitting metalsmith will be asked to re-submit the entry with a higher quality of photographs. Works will be juried by the curator and director.

The exhibition will be curated by Beth Wicker, Co-President of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths in the United States, and Adjunct Instructor at Northeastern Technical College in South Carolina. The Director of the exhibition is Hanuman Aspler, founder of The Ganoksin Project, the world's largest internet jewelry site.

Entries are accepted from now until January 15, 2013

Details and entry information is available.
Share this link with your fellow makers:


Compare USPS to Fed Ex: Outrageous Difference

Everready Working WomanRecently I had the opportunity to participate in an exhibition with one of my favorite autobiographical pieces Everready Working Woman (left).

It cost $67 to ship it by USPS Registered Insured Mail from the San Francisco Bay Area to Arizona.

However, when the show was over (only a week later )... return shipping by Fed Ex cost $177.26 for the same identical box, with the same artwork, for an identical distance. 

That is an outrageous difference.  $177.26?...for one lightweight box is a lot of money.

I was so shocked by the price difference, it took more than a day to figure out how to reply to the email asking me to pay the $177.26.

What would you do? Really! Any suggestions?

  • Pay for the return shipping up to $67 and burn my relationship with the museum.
  • Pay the full amount of $177.26.

At this point, I have written to the exhibition sponsor asking why the return shipping cost 2 1/2 times more than shipping to the museum.

Here is my email.

While I appreciated your returning my work, your email was a huge shock.

It cost me $67. to ship my work U.S.P.S. Registered Insured to the show in AZ
To see that the return shipping by Fed Ex costs $177.26. is unexpected to say the least.
 I am thinking that there has to be some mistake.

How could shipping the same identical box cost 2 1/2 times the original shipping?

Thanks for looking into this further…..


Just found out that they shipped the box FedEx standard overnight. I would swear that my conversation said 2nd-day air. At least it would have been less. I am really upset. This means one show that was up for four days cost $244.26. Not worth it.

I am going to the FedEx office and discussing this issue. 

Hopping mad. Any ideas?


I will update this post....with information so stay tuned.


Shipping connects our studios to the world. It is such an important issue that the SNAG Professional Development Seminar dedicated our entire 2012 program to shipping. A recent post Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers compared five shipping companies. The cost comparison handout did not reveal such a disparity between USPS and FEDEX. What gives?


This post was updated on April 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Everready Working Woman

Reality bite, you are the best spokesperson for your work.


Exhibition in the Gallery at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, MABostonSOCIETY
Three Bracelets by Harriete E Berman
Post-consumer recycled tin cans 2007

In the previous post on ASK Harriete, a student asked, "What is the first step to get my artworks shown in a gallery?"

My guess is that the real sentiment was "How can I get my work in a gallery so that the gallery will sell my work, and I can just focus on making and not selling?"

Harriete flattening tin cans working in the studioTINS.100Many makers hold on to the fantasy that a gallery will sell all their work so they can dedicate their time to making work.  The reality is that those days are gone forever (except for a few rare individuals).  There are various reasons, including the Internet and this tough economy.  But it is incredibly important to realize early in your career that you are the best seller of your work. 

Just as movie studios came to realize that actors should participate in the marketing of their movies, and publishers understand that authors should appear on television and radio to sell their books, artists need to participate in the marketing of their work. The visible and articulate artist/craftsperson is the most effective tool there is for marketing.


Alyson Stanfield and Harriete Estel Berman at the Loveland Museum
Harriete E Berman & Alyson Stanfield
at the Loveland Museum exhibition 2010

People (i.e. buyers, collectors, and viewers ) want to see, hear and meet the artists. Whether it is meeting at an opening, participating in social networks, offering to do interviews, writing about your own work on blogs, or standing in your booth at a show, the creative spirit is what people want to see and hear.  They want to learn your story.

Showing your work, telling a story, or explaining the meaning behind your work are steps you need to take to achieve success. No gallery can perform this job better than you can.

A gallery that sells your work is a partnership. They may be providing a retail location with a customer base, but the better you are at your job, the better they can sell your work.

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Plant a Seed, Nurture Ideas, Time to Prepare for Blooms and Fruit

Pomegranate_TreeBefore starting the actual construction of a piece for an exhibition, I usually read, study, and research background of the topic or theme.  This prepares me for the intensive hours, days, weeks to months creating exhibition work -- in this example, a special Seder plate about planting, growth, nurturing, and realizing the fruits of our labor.

PomegranateThe theme for a past exhibition was Tu BishVat (a lesser-known Jewish holiday) celebrating the birthday of trees. This had me thinking about fruit trees as a metaphor for artists and makers.

There is a Biblical recommendation that newly planted fruit trees should not be harvested before the 5th year.  Thus Tu Bishvat is sometimes called the birthday for trees since this holiday is used as a demarcation for the passing of each year, a very practical recommendation for the future health and productivity of the tree.

If the tree is nurtured for five years before harvesting the fruit, all of the energy and dedication of the caretaker will be realized in the long-term health of the tree.  When the mature tree produces fruit for harvest, it will be more "fruitful" for many years. 

HB Seder Detail1pomegranatetreeThis is a perfect metaphor for budding artists and how they should nurture their creative output.

Artists and makers should take this to heart... I am really serious about this point.

I am concerned especially for emerging artists (of all ages) who expect their early creative pursuits to bear immediate fruit in both money and critical acclaim. A premature expectation for visibility and sales too often influences what is made and how it is made.  I hope they learn to overcome these common mistakes:

1.) Shallow roots. Demands from the marketplace can distract artists and makers from developing substantive skills and meaningful ideas. Sustained personal development produces the best fruit. 

2.) Grafting onto others. It is easy to take other people's ideas, styles, and techniques.  But copying what's been done before never develops the individual voice within each of us.

3.) Premature Harvest - Spending too much time promoting initial work instead of developing and producing more thoughtful, more meaningful work.  I am all for selling, but spending time trying to promote and sell premature work damages the long-term reputation of emerging artists and drains potential energy from more meaningful development and creativity.

I know my words are pointed.  I don't usually say "should", but in this case, it is warranted.

Trying to harvest fruit too early damages the core of creativity and dilutes the energy of individuals who could benefit from experiencing growth over a period of time.  Learning from experience and consciously seeking to improve quality should take precedence over immediate gratification.  Higher quality work may take a few years, but once established, it can be productively sustained for a longer period.


This post was updated on February 27, 2023.



No Insurance at an Exhibition....What Shall I Do?

A true story. 
I saw an announcement for an upcoming show with a great title at a very nice museum.

It sounds like a great opportunity -- until I read..."Please note that while the exhibition space is secure, the museum will not be providing insurance.  Return shipping costs must be covered by the artist..."

Draw a line in the sand

Huh? No insurance?
Makers and artists are asked to give so much, but to give up even on insurance?  Well, that is my professional line in the sand.

Then....a repeat situation.
Days later, another invitation for a show says, "Please be sure to take a close look at the bottom section of the document as it contains very important information regarding insurance and shipping. Please note that insurance and delivery (both ways) is the responsibility of the artist!"

What?  Again, no insurance, no shipping?

Draw a line in the sand for your principles

I am appalled, dumbfounded, and frankly very concerned. Is this a growing trend? Has insurance, the most basic protection for a participating maker, become optional?

Amateur exhibitions might not have insurance.  Professional exhibitions do. A local club or small group might not have insurance, but a major institutional exhibition should.

Three years ago I responded to a question on ASK Harriete, "What do you recommend if a show has no insurance?"  I said "no," an absolute and unconditional "no".

Draw a line in the sand

"Even if there are pedestals with vitrines, the work still has the highest risk of damage during installation of the show and when the show is being taken down."  Thirty-plus years of exhibiting my work have demonstrated this fact to me on too many occasions. Theft during the exhibition is another relevant issue.

We all hope that the insurance coverage isn't needed, but it is just this guarantee to the artist that raises professional exhibitions above the lower-level venues and events.  Participating artists are assured that their work will be protected with superior handling AND will have a "backup plan" in case of damage.

Sure, artists and makers can buy their own insurance, but insurance from the exhibition sponsor indicates that work will be displayed professionally and demonstrates motivation for the best handling possible.

The people organizing the show may have the best intentions, but this issue of no insurance is more than an erosion of standards. They are transferring onto the makers all of the risks and responsibilities of unpacking work, setting up and exhibiting work, taking down and repacking work, and shipping.  Although they will "do their best" -- without insurance, they are abdicating any and all liability and responsibility.  Something will happen.  Then the maker bears all the risk, yet has no control -- except to decline to participate.

Draw a line in the sand again and again

How can any organization that purports to support and advance the professional practices of artists, or makers
endorse an exhibition without insurance?  Where is the education and leadership that demonstrates the hard choices necessary as a community that represents artists and makers at the highest level?

These hard choices start with artists or makers. It starts with you. An individual can demonstrate leadership by refusing to participate in a show that does not measure up to their professional standards. 

Line in the sand with many hands

Draw your own line in the sand.
A polite letter or email stating the reasons why you can not participate in an exhibition or opportunity that does not meet professional standards is taking a stand for advocacy in your community.

This issue is not about one organization or one show. It is about every show. It is about every opportunity.

There are many resources to help guide every artist, maker, craftsperson, crafter, organization, or exhibition sponsor.

ASK Harriete regularly offers advice and opinions
about the best professional practices for artists and makers.

The Professional Guidelines offers several documents with information about exhibitions.

Exhibitions: Artist Checklist   This PDF document includes information and questions artists may want to ask the sponsor of any exhibition. Also includes Artist Responsibilities for an exhibition.

Exhibition Contract This document addresses noncommercial exhibitions where the main intent is not the sale of work but rather the showcasing of artwork for the purposes of education, information, or public consideration. Included is an overview detailing and explaining each clause of the contract and the multiple options offered.

Consignment Contract This document includes an Introduction, and Overview offering a complete explanation for each clause in the Consignment Contract with possible options for the artist and gallery. This is followed by a complete Consignment Contract that can be used in whole or part by artists and galleries to cover many issues involved in developing a good working relationship.

Juried Exhibitions  This document presents an ideal scenario for organizing a juried exhibition drawn from the collective experience of the Professional Guidelines Committee members. A well-organized exhibition benefits the sponsor, the artists, and the craft field at large. These guidelines are primarily intended for the sponsors of a juried exhibition: galleries, museums, schools, or other organizations. They are designed to enhance the organization's ability to conduct a successful juried exhibition and to clearly describe the sponsor’s and the juror’s responsibilities.

Draw a line in the sand for yourself and every artist "No insurance, no show" may seem easy to say, I understand.  Some will argue that a show without insurance is better than no show at all.  And I would agree that a local show where the artist is actively involved changes the scenario.  But a major institution or organization should adhere to and support the best professional practices.

We all lose if we continue to accept declining standards.  It is an issue that every artist, maker, and organization needs to address. Participation in shows without insurance endorse substandard professional practices.

What do you think?  Where would you draw your line in the sand?


P.S. This post was inspired by both personal and professional experiences. An update is posted on ASK Harriete titled Insurance at an Exhibition - An Update.

This post was updated on February 16, 2022.

EcoArts Awards - A Competition Opportunity for Everyone

EcoArtsIf you have ever wanted to promote ecology while expressing your artistic expression, here is an opportunity to weave both together. 


All ecology-minded artists, artisans, and makers should submit their works to this upcoming competition.

Eco Arts Awards is calling for entries in 6 creative categories:

  • Fine Art,
  • Photography,
  • Literature,
  • Short Videos, 
  • Songwriting, &
  • Functional Art/Repurposed Materials in Art & Design.

Awards: $1,000 cash for the first place winner in each category.

Final Entry Deadline - midnight, November 30th, 2011

The entry fee per work is $30. Winners will be notified no later than April, 2012.

For more information, visit their website.

Recycle (above) is a series of necklaces and bracelets fabricated from post consumer plastic waste.  By taking materials from the waste stream of our consumer society, these pieces transform the mundane into the extra-ordinary.
Recycled Fruit Crate by Harriete Estel Berman about recycled plastic waste.

Recycled Necklace from Recycled Fruit Crate by Harriete Estel Berman about recycled plastic waste

Recycled bracelets from Recycled Fruit Crate by Harriete Estel Berman about recycled plastic waste


More information is below about the environmental messages behind my work.

These extra-ordinary bracelets also represent a very serious message about the overabundance and waste in our society.  Just think about the quantity of the trash that we throw away every day.

Most plastics are not bio-degradable or recycled. In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal *points out that only a small percent of PET beverage containers are recycled.  The recycling rate hasn't kept up with the growth of plastic-bottle use over the past 15 years.
"Coca Cola is wrestling with low recycling rates, rising prices for used plastic as demand from China has grown, and headaches tied to curbside recycling programs. So low is the supply of recycled, bottle-grade PET that its price is about 10% above that of virgin PET in the U.S., according to Coke and recycling industry executives."
"Due in part to the woes at the Spartanburg plant, Coke has about 5% recycled content in its plastic PET bottles today, down from 10% roughly five years ago. PepsiCo Inc. says it has 10% recycled PET content. Both rates pale with recycled content in aluminum beverage cans, which stands at 68%, according to the Aluminum Association."
"Not many bottles are recycled in the first place. The U.S. recycling rate for plastic bottles made from PET, typically derived from petroleum, was 28% in 2009, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources. That compares with a recycling rate for PET plastic bottles of nearly 50% in Europe.  In California, which recently strengthened bottle-deposit rules, 68% of PET bottles were recycled last year."
Think about all the plastic that is not recycled! The recycling rate for HDPE used for milk bottles, shampoo bottles, and similar containers is even lower!    

We contribute to the problem unconsciously in so many ways due to a lack of awareness. Tons of plastic are thrown away every day filling our landfills with materials that do not fully decompose but turn into microparticles of plastic. Plastic is contaminating our oceans, sea life, and waterways. The solutions are not easy. But the issue is acute and most people don’t even know about this problem.

Harriete Estel Berman

*Esterl, Mike. "Plastic Bottle Recycling Is In the Dumps", The Wall Street Journal, Friday, August 19, 2011., Marketplace section pages B1-B2.

CaFE, Behind the Curtain: Insights as a Juror Using CaFE

CaFElogo2 I had the opportunity to be a juror for a show. The jury submissions and review used CaFE, an online jury review service.

While I have used CaFE as an artist many times to submit my work for a juried situation, this was my first time as a juror using this service.

Today's post will reveal the "behind the scenes" difficulties and challenges for a juror using CaFE. Future posts will continue with concerns and suggest options for artists to improve their juried application on CaFE.

First, let's start with my overall assessment of CaFE, then a detailed explanation.

CaFE does a great disservice to the artists, makers, and jurors. The website does not offer what I would consider the minimum features.

Justice The formatting /programming for this online service is below the current standards for social networking and photo viewing such as Flickr or Facebook. I have not used other online jury review systems, but I think there is definitely room for improvement in CaFE.One-star-rating copy If I was giving the CaFE website a review it would get one star." 

CaFE is a market leader in the online jury review business which is why the issues listed below bother me so much.

Juror Challenge #1.
Reading the information and statement.

WhitetextonBlack The information presented to the juror was white text on black. White text on black is a nightmare. (Don't use this color scheme for your website, blog, or any social networking format). White on black is hard to read, unpleasant and tiresome. 

If the text information is influencing a juror's decision, the formatting of white text on a black background isn't helping your chances of selection. White text on black isn't artful, it's antagonizing.

Juror Challenge #2.
The images are surprisingly small.

BLACK white EARRINGS by Harriete Estel Berman I would have liked to look at an image that filled my screen. I mean maybe 1,000 by 1,000 at 72 dpi or even BIGGER!

As a juror, it would be nice to be able to click on the image and get a larger view, or magnifying window. This was not possible.

The images that the juror looked at are much too small. I am not talking about the "thumbnail images". I am saying that the jurors are looking at images that were 500 by 500 pixels or smaller to make their decisions.

CAFEimageBLKborderedge Some are even "less", because if the image was not square to use up the 500px x 500px, the maximum dimension was 500px in one direction.  Consequently, any remaining area was just "fill" (for example, the right image using my work as a guinea pig).

There was no way to even look at a bigger view either. That was it! This is hardly ideal and a real downside to using CaFE. 

CaFE management says they are working on an enhancement to display images at a maximum of 700 x 700 pixels. This is a little bigger but not full-screen. That would be an improvement, but in my opinion, not enough. This issue really offends my sense of justice. Juried decisions should be based on larger photos!

Justice_statueI have three more challenges with CaFE, but am not going to overwhelm you in one day. The next three Juror "challenges" (image review, the scorecard, and the Artists' Statements) will be described in the next post. 

After that ASK Harriete will take several posts to review how artists can improve their CaFE submissions.

Stay tuned.


This post was updated on February 10, 2022.     


Finding Exhibition Opportunities - Photos and Packing

A real-life example:

Pencil_stanineWEB I recently finished making Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, and am currently looking for an exhibition space. A previous post offered a few suggestions on how to find exhibitions spaces for your work. This post will show what I am doing step by step to find exhibition opportunities.

PencilsCenterPROGRESS72 First, photos of the finished work are needed.  In this case, because of the size of the work, I need to find a temporary space to install this large sculpture for photography. The artwork is 27 feet wide and 12 feet tall with an installation height minimum of 15 feet.  

A friend has volunteered a large gallery space but only for a weekend.  So, next weekend, my whole family will have to help install the work and take it down in a day and a half.

Great photos are essential to obtain an exhibition commitment.  This has been mentioned many times before (so I won't belabor that point in this post).  But here are some additional issues to resolve early: shipping and storage.

Shipping and storage are significant issues for both the artist and the exhibition sponsor.
I recommend making custom packing for one-of-a-kind work as soon as it is finished.  Your work can then be stored as needed and you are ready to ship safely as well.

For Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin I devised a simple method to protect the work with brown paper.  Each of the fifteen feet long stanines roll up into tight bundles. This protects the pencils while providing compact storage and shipping. Before I even started this project five years ago, I planned how it would ship. It was all part of the big plan. Always plan for shipping and storage while you make the work.
You can view every step of the packing process on my Facebook album or in a special Flickr set with step-by-step photos.  It may appear that the packing is simple. REALITY CHECK: It took two people working really hard for 6 and a half hours solid to get this done in one afternoon. We had to replicate this "envelope" for each of the nine stanines.
In the above photo, you can see Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin wrapped tightly in the brown paper in its individual box. It will be surrounded by bubble wrap and peanuts for shipping.

Yes, I know, there is empty space in the box but I want lots of cushioning (bubble wrap and peanuts) to surround my work and don't want the box to be too heavy. People will drop heavy boxes to the floor. I want gentle and careful handling to protect my work.

The pencils stanines are in these boxes. All nine stanines fit in five boxes!

I do not like the printing on the outside of these boxes but the dimensions were perfect. I will cover the writing with brown packing tape and my instruction sheets.  I still have hours of work to further prepare the boxes.

Many times exhibition sponsors want an estimate for shipping before making a commitment.  The artist should be ready to estimate the cost for shipping (especially if the exhibition sponsor is paying for shipping). Each box needs to be weighed.

In my exhibition proposal, I will be able to provide the exact number of boxes, dimensions of the boxes, and shipping weight. For example, Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin ships in five boxes, 40" x 12" x 12". Weighing the boxes is work for this morning.

Write Instructions for Unpacking, Display, Installation, Packing, and Shipping.
I know this seems like a lot of advanced work,
but all of this advanced preparation provides protection for your artwork and gives exhibition sponsors confidence in showing your work.

Sample Instructions for Unpacking, Display, Installation, Packing, and Shipping will be the next post on ASK Harriete.

Stay tuned.


This post was updated on February 10, 2022.

Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work? How to Find Them.

A reader of ASK Harriete asks: I do not have credentials or know how to "shop around" for a future place to exhibit my artwork. So how can I find exhibition opportunities for finished work? 

Consuming Conversation S © 2004
A commentary about our consumer
society and on a balanced economy.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

As mentioned in a previous post, I recommend making the work you want to make, without waiting for an exhibition that forces you to take action.  Rather than reacting to a themed exhibition, let the artist inside of you make work that inspires you now.  When the work is complete, then find an exhibition that fits your work. 

But the big question is...How do Artists and Makers find exhibition opportunities for finished work?

Here are some suggestions:

Write about work while it is in progress on your blog, Flickr, Facebook, or Crafthaus including interesting facts, tips, or "in the studio" shots that may interest your audience.  This is especially important to generate visibility and interest if the work takes a long time.

When the work is completed you need fabulous photos! If the work is too big to photograph before installation, use some close-up images.

Write an artist statement about the finished work. Keep improving and updating this information.

Create custom-made shipping box(es) for storage and shipping.

Figure out how much it will cost to ship.
An exhibition sponsor may ask:

  • How many boxes? How heavy? Dimensions?
  • Know the insurance value. (Insurance is usually half the retail price.)

Prepare instructions for assembly, installation, display, and packing, as necessary. This includes an installation diagram and how much time it takes to set up.

Send photos and information to exhibition spaces and curators that you have worked with in the past. This is where your history of participating in group shows, juried shows, and invitational exhibitions may be helpful.

  • A personal letter or email is essential. Group emails are worthless. Personal contact is key.
  • You should have a professional (or close to perfect) working relationship with previous exhibition sponsors. Flaky behavior will get you nowhere.
  • Professional behavior in every regard, and great working relationships, are key to these inquiries.
  • Write to every place that has ever exhibited your work.

Leverage a network of networks.  Let your network of contacts extend into their networks to reach exhibitions that you would not hear of otherwise.

Be proactive and patient.  A perfect exhibition opportunity is not likely to show up immediately, so be patient.  But you must actively get your photos and statement out to let it spread and find opportunities.  If you don't inform people, no one will "find" you.  

And, of course, keep your eyes out for published invitations for exhibitions.  Broadly interpret any stated theme to include your finished work.  Submit your photo and modified statement to all shows that could possibly be interpreted to include your work.  You never know who might agree with your interpretation of the theme.

The most challenging option is to submit your images, and exhibition proposal to galleries, museums, or non-profit exhibition spaces that you have not worked with in the past. This requires research to figure out if your work is appropriate for each venue. Look on their website, study past exhibits, and internet search results for your preliminary investigation.

Consuming Conversations - A series of teacups about our consumer society. A concealed rod holds each stack of cups together in a precarious position. A position mirrored in our current economy of overspending and consuming without regard to realistic finances.


NEXT Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete: A step-by-step example of how I am seeking exhibition opportunities

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?

A reader of ASK Harriete asks:

Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?  My fine art pieces also take me a long time (months and months). 

3M & m Candy Dispenser by Harriete Estel Berman.72jpg The short answer is that it depends on the show and your situation. While I generally recommend to make great work and then find a show... there are occasions for which a smaller piece may fit both your long-term goals and the near-term exhibition theme.  For example, I created the 3M & m Candy Dispenser (right images) for such a situation.

A few weeks or a couple of months' notice to make a piece for an exhibition isn't much time,
but yes, sometimes the opportunity presented is worth a grueling crush to complete.

3 M & m Candy Dispenser back viewck-72
   3M & m Candy Dispenser © 2005
   Constructed for an exhibition based on
   using 3M products.
   Recycled tin cans, candy dispenser,
   candy, brass
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Here are my main criteria for deciding whether to participate in a show on short notice:

  • Does the exhibition include insurance?
  • Is this a quality exhibition space with an established reputation either locally or nationally?
  • Will the work be handled by professional art handlers?

  • Will the exhibition sponsor generate good visibility for the show with an audience that would appreciate my type of work?
    • Do I have a good/interesting idea for the exhibition theme?

    • Is the exhibition sponsor (or curator) a place (or person) that I would like to develop a working relationship with for the future?

    • Do I want to support the theme or organization sponsoring the exhibition?


  • MOST IMPORTANT: Do I have enough time to make an excellent example of my work including skillful execution and a thoughtful concept?

Below are more examples of work made for a special exhibition and why I made it.
Butterfly by Harriete Estel Berman

Butterfly close up view by Harriete Estel Bermantl
“Butterfly” by Harriete Estel Berman

This is my butterfly for the exhibition “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” at the Holocaust Museum in Houston. If you look closely, you can see the children playing. The Holocaust Museum Houston was collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies in an effort to remember the loss of children during the Holocaust. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition, currently scheduled for Spring 2012, for all to remember.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • The theme expressed a poignant resonance.
  • I had the perfect tin to execute my butterfly idea.
  • The project was small. I could make an exquisite butterfly in a week.

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman

CERF  Converse style shoe by Harriete Estel BermanshoeLEFT

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman TOP
CERF Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman
St. silver rivets and eyelets, electrical wire shoelaces, tool dip.
1.15 “height  x  3.5 “ width x 3.5 “ depth (including shoe laces)

My shoe is constructed from recycled tin cans from KIWI Shoe Polish and other tin cans. This shoe was made for CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund) as part of their raffle that was shown at SOFA Chicago 2009. CERF helps artists with financial emergencies.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • CERF is an organization that helps artists.
  • The raffle for the collection of shoes gets great visibility at SOFA, Chicago, and mail distribution of their postcard.
  • Their raffle method does not devalue my work (like most fund-raising auctions.)

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman
Children are not Bulletproof  
© 2000    Harriete Estel Berman
Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans; brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.                          
64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts were exhibited and sold as one unit.
Children are not Bulletproof is available for purchase or exhibition.
Close-up view below.

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman_closeUP.nobackground72
Children are not Bulletproof  © 2000 Harriete Estel Berman

This was originally constructed for a political badges show at Helen Drutt Gallery.
I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • Helen Drutt asked me to participate. (It is hard to say "no" to people you respect or admire.)
  • Helen Drutt Gallery usually managed to get great visibility for many of her shows.
  • I thought that I could make a good piece within the three-month advance notice.

These were just a few examples. When there is an invitation or a juried opportunity, you have to weigh the pros and cons for each show, and then decide for yourself.

I have one more post in this series coming up... How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities for Finished Work?

Do you have any more questions about this topic? Let me know.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Children are not Bulletproof                                                             © 2000    Harriete Estel Berman

Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans (pre-existing scratches and marks may be present); brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.


64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts sold as one unit.  Pieces may not be sold separately.     

Where Do I Find Opportunities to Exhibit My Work?

"Where Do I Find Opportunities to Exhibit My Work?" is one of the most frequent questions that artists and craftspeople ask.  CAFElogo copy It's hard enough to make the work, and then spend more time looking for opportunities to exhibit. ASK Harriete has answered variations of this question, such as a previous post titled How Do You Find Venues for Your Work, but here is another idea, REGISTER with online jury sites like Cafe'.


HAND PICK & Win Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
  Pace HAND-PICK & WIN Flower Pin
  Post Consumer recycled tin cans
  © 2010  Harriete Estel Berman
View the entire collection on Flickr.

The recent newsletter emailed from Cafe' prompted me to write this post.  I found several opportunities for myself and friends not otherwise on my radar screen. Here is what Cafe' says on their registration page.

"CaFÉ provides artists with an easy-to-use system to create a profile with contact information, upload digital images of their artwork, and apply to a number of open calls for entry at one time. There is no cost to register your profile and you can update it at any time by going to "My Info".


HAND PICK & Win Flower Brooch(back view) by Harriete Estel Berman is jewelry constructed from post consumer reycled tin cans.
    Pace HAND-PICK & WIN Flower Pin  
   (back view of pin with hallmark)  
   Post-consumer recycled tin cans
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
View the entire collection on Flickr.

Registration is FREE, do it now!!!! It only takes a few minutes. After you register, you can receive their newsletter listing new opportunities. 

In the future, as you respond to juried opportunities, the photos that you upload can be saved on the Cafe' site for you. This way you can access them again for the next opportunity. The downside is that CAFE' requires your photos to be uploaded in a specific size (eliminating any advantage that horizontal shots have over vertical) and resizing your images for Cafe' takes extra time.


Meteor Fruit Crate and three bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans
  Meteor Fruit Crate -California Collection
  © 2009 Harriete Estel Berman
  Three-dimensional fruit crate label
  constructed from post-consumer recycled
  tin cans, custom made wood crate,
  handmade paper, three bracelets.
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Do you know of any online Jury sites that you would like to recommend to other artists?

Why not list them below in the comments?

Help yourself and other artists:

  • JOIN (yes, pay membership dollars) to a select number of artist organizations that fit your work. Most likely they will regularly send out emails and newsletters to their members. Support the organizations that support artists like you.
  • REGISTER with online jury sites like Cafe
  • SHARE opportunities with friends and they will share with you


This post was updated on January 21, 2022.
Meteor bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman fit in the Meteor Fruit Crate display as a commentary about the California economy. 

Three Meteor  Bracelets from the Meteor Fruit Crate
California Collection
  © 2009 Harriete Estel Berman
Bracelets are displayed and sold with the three-dimensional fruit crate label,
and wood crate display.
MATERIALS: Post-consumer recycled tin cans, handmade paper, recycled cardboard, s/s rivets, brass tubing, wood. 
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Create Your Own Exhibition Opportunities

ArmoryShow_poster I've been reading my way, word by word, chapter by chapter, through the comprehensive reference book,  Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. There is a section about the famous Amory Show, which I'd heard mention as many of my favorite artists from the early 20th century exhibited at the Amory Show. It wasn't until now, that  I fully realized how groundbreaking this exhibition actually was, and why.

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ What astounded me was that this show was not organized by a museum or any other institution, but by the artists. "The members of the new Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) were seeking to undercut the power of the conservative American Academy of Design by independently showing their art (and that of their colleagues) that had been rejected by officialdom as too radical. They were quite successful: the Armory Show created a market for contemporary art almost overnight."  And subsequent to this  event, "the younger generation no longer pursued Academy recognition."**

This example illustrates the merit of reading such an in-depth book.  We can learn much from history, and with some understanding, we can also gain some inspiration.  Do you feel that you are limited by the exhibition opportunities in your community? 


Sleeping Muse, bronze sculpture by
Constantin Brâncuşi, 1910, originally
shown at the Armory Show.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why not create your own exhibition opportunities? Put together your own show just like the artists who organized the Armory Show in the early part of the 20th century.  The Professional Guidelines offer guidance for exhibition sponsors along with the entire project.

Why not be your own sponsor?  The Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract (for non-commercial exhibitions) is designed for artists and non-profit Exhibition Sponsors to clearly define each party’s responsibilities. (For retail/commercial gallery exhibitions, refer to the Consignment Contract instead.)

Do be aware that sales in a non-commercial exhibition are usually a low priority.  The Exhibition is not expected to represent the artists over an extended period of time like a gallery. Instead, the Exhibition borrows work from the artists for a limited period of time, focusing on work that contributes to the theme or premise of the show.  Prices are not usually posted on the wall, although a price list may be available at the desk or upon request.

Exhibitions curated without the pressure for sales may offer an opportunity to show experimental work or work that is not viable in more conventional venues. These exhibitions often include work that is aesthetically challenging, provocative in content or concept, or made by artists not often seen in established galleries.  These exhibitions can be important opportunities to expand the audience for artwork and to educate the viewers.  

Armory painting by Amadeo de Souza Cardoso
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, artist
Saut du Lapin, 1911

Ideally, such exhibitions produce quality, promotional documentation of the artwork and possible professional reviews, and broad exposure to the community.  So while you are putting together this show, consider publishing your own catalog.


Picture of the Duchamp Brothers who helped sponsor the organization of the famous Armory Show.
Three brothers, left to right: Marcel
Jacuews Villon, and Raymond
in the garden of Jacques
Villon's n at their studio in Pateaux,
France, 1914, all three brothers were
included in the Armory exhibition.

Find more information

Consider the outcome of the Armory show. "The artist-organizers handled all the administrative details themselves and gave up a year of their art-making time to make the show happen." Summarizing the information from page 86, of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, $45,000 of work sold.  "Marcel Duchamp and his brother, Jacques Villon, sold everything they had at the exhibition." "All the most advanced works, including those of the Cubists, were sold out...".**

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase perhaps the most famous painting from the Armory Show.
Nude Descending the Staircase
Marcel Duchamp
Painting shown at the Armory Show.


For more insight from history and potential inspiration, read the book, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft.

Ironically, Bruce Metcalf, co-author of the book, helped me by editing some of the early topics of the Professional Guidelines nearly ten years ago. How can you help your fellow artists?


* Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract

** Metcalf, Bruce and Koplos, Janet, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010, page86.

This post was updated on January 21, 2022, to provide current links.

The affiliate links on ASK Harriete may provide this blog with a few cents to keep on going and defray expenses.

Dragon Fire Flower Brooch makes your day memorable and super hot. Constructed from post-consumer, recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman, 2010.

Worked returning from an exhibition? Did you fill out a Condition Report?

Last Thursday, 39 boxes were returned from an exhibition at the Loveland Museum.

The question and lesson arises, What is your job as the artist when receiving work back from an exhibition?

Several of the exterior boxes were dented, crushed, and damaged as mentioned in the previous post.

Step 1. Remove the exterior shipping boxes. What a mess! Peanuts everywhere! That took four hours for two people. (Eight total work hours.)

Step 2. All the damaged exterior shipping boxes were saved in case a claims agent needs to see them. The boxes in good condition were collapsed and put away. Peanuts stored.


Harriete Estel Berman Consuming Conversation several stacks of teacups
Consuming Conversation © 2001-04
Recycled tin cans, brass, sterling silver
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Waiting in a box to be checked.

Step 3. Now to open the interior shipping boxes. When work is returned from an exhibition, I check every piece as soon as possible. With more than 39 pieces, this is a mini-marathon. There were over 72 teacups alone, plus 36 grass panels. That's a lot of work!


Harriete Estel Berman Consuming Conversation 13 is three teacups.
Consuming Conversation © 2001-04
Recycled tin cans, brass, sterling silver
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Waiting in a box to be checked.

Step 4. All of the work needs to be cleaned and checked against the Condition Reports.

Before sending work to the Loveland Museum, the condition of all work was examined. Registrars at museums are really "picky" about this. Scratches, dents, and imperfections were noted on the Condition Report. I made photocopies of my Condition Reports and mailed the originals to the museum along with the work.

The museum should have sent a copy of the Condition Reports noting the condition of the work upon arrival -- and again before it was returned. Each step in this process is an effort to document the condition of the work.


Harriete Estel Berman Obverse Obsession Chocolate Pot
Obverse Obsession © 2005
23” height   x   17” width
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Current location...waiting in a box to be

The museum did not return my Condition Reports, but I have a copy of my originals!

What is a Condition Report you ask?
The Professional Guidelines has a sample Condition Report  Download CONDITION REPORT.

The purpose of the Condition Report is to document the condition of your work:

  • when it leaves your studio;
  • at each exhibition location (if it is in a traveling exhibition);
  • when it is packed to be returned
  • and when it arrives back at your studio.

This Condition Report establishes a clear expectation about how you want your work to be handled.


Harriete Estel Berman Consuming Identity a chair constructed from recycled tin cans.
Consuming Identity © 2001
Recycled tin cans, fabric,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Waiting in its crate to be checked.

I made a photocopy of my Condition Reports filled out before the work was shipped to the Loveland Museum. Now begins the tedious task of cleaning and checking each piece. 

At least with a thorough Condition Report, you can make a Claim for Damaged Work if it is ever necessary.  


This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Burned by burnt paintings! Oh no! What shall I do?

Dear Harriete,

A good friend of mine opened a café and I had my paintings/giclees* exhibited there. Last week she had a fire. Most of my work was either destroyed or damaged. My husband also had photography work there and it was smoke damaged. She was under the impression that her business partner had upgraded their insurance to include the artwork (mine was not the only one) and other new equipment that they had acquired. Guess he didn’t. Am I without recourse? Thank You.

By the way, I did have one small piece which was a watercolor framed under glass. The glass protected the painting so that was good.
JK Sanders

 JK Sanders mural before the fire
"Marcies Ghost" © 2008
Mural, Acrylic on wall 2.5' by 4'
Artist: JK Sanders

Wow, very sorry to hear about your work and your friend's business setback. This illustrates the importance of a contract. The primary reason for a contract is not enforcement but to give both parties a checklist of things to do and verify.
If both you and the cafe owner had taken a few moments initially to look over and discuss the issues typically itemized in a contract (including insurance), perhaps this situation would have a better outcome.  

If the venue owner had signed a contract that included an Inventory List specifying the total number of items and value of the exhibited work, then their level of responsibility would have been clear. As it is now, they can easily claim that they never promised insurance coverage or that you knowingly displayed your work at your own risk.  You have only a verbal conversation which is not much to stand on legally.  In this case, I don't think you have any recourse without documentation of the conversation.


JK Sanders mural damaged by fire
"Marcies Ghost" (with damage by fire)

Given the circumstances, it looks like you cannot prove an expectation for insurance.  Both you and the restaurant owner are responsible for this situation. I don't mean to be unkind and I am not a legal expert, so this is just my opinion. Your legal case is weak and hiring a lawyer will cost more money. You could consider taking them to small claims court and making an enemy of a friend. All of these are hard choices. Maybe the cafe owner will voluntarily give you an amount of money out of the goodness of their heart. That is a lot to ask or expect considering their significant loss.


JK Sanders watercolor
"Maxwells Garden View"  and
"Tibby's Trophy" © 2001 (before fire)
Artist: JK Sanders

JK Sanders watercolor
"Maxwells Garden View" 
© 2001 (with fire damage)
watercolor,  24"X30"
Artist: JK Sanders

This is a very hard way to learn a difficult lesson. We can hope that other artists will learn from your well-intentioned but harsh experience.

There are two sample contracts in the Professional Guidelines that can be downloaded for free. Either contract can easily be modified to suit both parties and adapted to the circumstances.  It shouldn't be an adversarial discussion but contracts do oblige both parties to consider "what if" problems.

The Consignment Contract focuses more on retail sales and representation.

The Exhibition Contract is designed for a situation where retail sales are not the primary focus.

Here is a link to the one page handout in the Professional Guidelines which is useful for preliminary discussions when showing your work at any venue. Print it out and keep this on your desk so that you know which topics are already available for your reference.


JKSanders watercolor with fire damage
Coffee Cat Series damaged in the fire.
Artist: JK Sanders

One more issue.   In any scenario where artwork may be exhibited, (especially in an unsupervised environment such as a restaurant where it may be touched), I would fill out a Condition Report before the work is installed. This way if it is returned damaged in any way, you have documentation of its prior condition. 

Despite all this documentation, the primary focus is always to establish a good working relationship. On occasion we all take calculated risks for an exhibition opportunity, so clarifying responsibilities ahead of time tends to be helpful for all parties as events unfold.  It is unfortunate that this one turned out so badly.

If anyone has another suggestion, please leave a comment. I'd like to hear what you have to say. Maybe there is another solution that I didn't consider.

*giclée - the use of ink-jet printing to manufacture artistic prints


Stay tuned for the next posts about galleries and stores that don't pay on time, sample order terms, and net 30 Applications.

This post was updated on January 11, 2022. 

Looking Forward to the New Year

Champagne_bottle_GR Looking forward to the New Year, I thought a quick post about upcoming events and topics in the coming year would be appropriate.

Upcoming soon...a sample Cease and Desist letter for anyone to use when someone copies your work.  More information will be appearing in my Opinion article for Metalsmith Magazine soon.

Podcasts about my work.  I am learning how to create podcasts and how to put short lectures online with audio.  I am really excited about learning this new skill which is remarkably easy with free software.  You can listen to my first experiment at the following link. I'd love to hear your feedback about this new professional resource experiment.

CLICK HERE for a presentation about my chocolate pot Obverse Obsession.



California Dream © 2005
Recycled tin cans, Pentium chip
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

An exhibition of my artwork is coming this February at the Loveland Museum, Colorado.  Forty (40) boxes were shipped to the museum a few days ago. (Can you imagine how much work it was just to pack up this much work? A peanuts blizzard and cardboard box marathon!)  On Saturday, February 13th, there will be a lecture by Liz Quisgard followed by a panel discussion with all the artists. 

The Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference in Houston is coming up March 10-13, 2010.  If you are not planning to attend the entire SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference March 10 - 13, 2010, you can pay for just this PDS seminar on pricing your work).  The first presentation is by Bruce Baker speaking about "The Art of Selling". The morning continues with "Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog about Pricing Your Work" with Marlene Ritchey, Guido Schindler, Jennifer Trask, Kiwon Wang, and Francesca Vitali. This will continue with an informal discussion during lunch.  While the SNAG Conference is generally focused on jewelry, metal arts, and design, this information will be applicable to a wide range of media AND the speakers represent a wide spectrum of viewpoints.

Also at the SNAG Conference, I am working on a new program titled, "A Smaller Conference Experience."  Everyone is invited to a more relaxed setting for individual introductions and conversation before the pin swap on Wednesday night, and an informal lunch discussion on Thursday with the Keynote Speaker Caroline Broadhead and the Thursday morning speaker Beverly Penn. Bring your own lunch, grab a chair and join our conversation. Space is limited to 75 people. Please come and say your name, "hello", and tell us what kind of work you do.

Portfolio Reviews at the conference. If you are interested in a short conversation offering insight about your work and discussion about reaching your professional goals with gallery owners, curators, or experienced artists, then stay tuned for the opportunity to grab a portfolio review slot.


Recycle © 1999
The California Collection
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, wood, milk bottles,
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This year begins for me with an intense focus on finishing artwork that has been "in progress" for quite a while.  Finally, I am completing a whole group of work that has taken me more than two years.  To the left is one piece in the series.

Stay tuned to my website, Facebook, and Flickr where new images will be published in the coming weeks and months. If you aren't already my friend on Facebook, this is a great way to stay in touch.

Looking forward to the New Year and all it holds for our professional development.

I write this blog for my readers. Let me know what you want to hear and learn in the coming year.

Best Wishes for the New Year,


The artist / gallery relationship - Does one size fit all?



Traditionally the artist/gallery relationship has been clearly delineated.   The artist made the artwork or craft. The gallery took responsibility for all marketing and sales.  This model is simple and the two domains are served by different skills and expertise.  In effect, however, it is a one-size-fits-all scenario. 

The reality is that business models can be much more complex and apply a range of skills and expertise to varying degrees.   Some artists are in fact quite adept at marketing and sales.  Some galleries are better than others in taking advantage of new technologies and resources and addressing shifting consumer sentiments.  


This is not a new discussion.  Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, manufacturers have chosen whether to sell direct or to sell through distributors and retail channels.  Kelloggs

In many examples, manufacturers focused on making products; and let their retailers focus on marketing and sales.  Kellogg's sells cereal through grocery stores.  Tylenol sells pills through drug stores and convenience stores.  Neither sells directly from the factory.



At the opposite extreme, Dell and Apple decided to cut out the middle man because they thought they could do it better.  And both are extremely successful. The irony is that Apple created its own retail outlets through Apple stores and Dell has no retail outlets at all.


And there are many variations. 

Here is a hybrid model.  Cell phones are sold through service provider outlets like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T.  In addition to their stores, they also sell through other retail channels like Best Buy and Radio Shack, and many retail websites.

Some clothing manufactures are selling directly from their websites, some aren't.  Some, like Lands End, do both.

Kohler (a well-known plumbing fixtures manufacturer) doesn't sell from their factory, but they sell one line of lower-priced products through Home Depot and a premium line to their more exclusive retail outlets.  Most people don't realize the distinction between the two product lines until they study the products carefully or talk to a plumber.

Many different business models are quite effective in the marketplace.  Who is right?  The real point is that a variety of business models can be effective, i.e. the business model is not sacrosanct.  There is a spectrum of possible models and they all can succeed or fail for reasons beyond the business model.

One model does not fit all situations.  The 50% commission (or 50/50 artist/gallery) model has been around a long time.  I think it is time to reconsider and create some new business models.   I am not saying that the 50/50 model is bad, but it is not ideal for all scenarios.

How and when would some variation of other business models work?  In what situations would another business model be more effective?

What do you think?  Are you marketing your work online independently?  How do you or would you coordinate your marketing with a gallery?  Share your ideas about the changing artist/gallery relationship.  I'm going to continue this discussion in a series of upcoming posts.


This post was updated on December 28, 2021.

Online Marketing - Gallery and Artist Collaboration




Galleries have traditionally been the primary conduit for buyers to find quality art and craft. The galleries were responsible for marketing and promotion as well as supporting a physical retail space to show art and craft. Artists and makers typically felt ill at ease in such marketing efforts (with the exception of wholesale/retail shows) and preferred to devote their time to the studio.

The Internet has changed the equation - permanently. 

Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

One of the new realities is that artists and makers CAN market and promote their work via the Internet without gallery representation.  Potential buyers CAN find artists and makers without gallery vetting. The days are past when clients can only find an artist exclusively through a gallery. 

However, in an age of information overload, galleries still offer authoritative credibility regarding the merit of represented work.  For the client, galleries also offer expert guidance, appraisals, and insight well beyond the mere display space for viewing.  For the artist and maker, galleries offer skilled promotion and reliable sales support.


Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

But the Internet is a multi-lane highway connecting many destinations. So here is a radical idea . . .  Artists and galleries need to work together in their marketing efforts.

Huge opportunities are lost when galleries and artists don't act as a team to fully benefit from their respective resources.

Artists need to have their own websites for credibility and visibility. Galleries need to use the Internet more effectively to showcase all the work for which they are responsible. An exhibition should no longer be presented to the public as one image on a postcard or one page on a website. With minimal expense, the entire exhibition can be posted as an online catalog of the show.

Galleries and artists can both be more effective with online marketing.  Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one goal, i.e. a bigger "web" of links (more links earn a higher rating).  SEO can drive more traffic to the websites of both the gallery and the artist. 


Galleries can benefit by linking to all artists' inventory and exhibition pages.   Artists should email and post on their websites any relevant gallery link such as upcoming events, openings, exhibitions, juried shows, etc.  

Likewise, artists can benefit by helping galleries link to any new resources such as newspaper reviews, magazine articles, open studios, or selection into books.

Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Both parties need to trust that purchases generated as a result of either website will be positive and boost credibility, visibility, and revenue.


If a customer arrives at my site via the gallery's website and purchases work from my site, hopefully, we can work out the appropriate commission for the gallery. 


Commission strategies need to be reconsidered.  This is an area that needs a lot more discussion.  For example, the websites for both the gallery and the artist could set up affiliate links that pay commissions in both directions.  There are many other mutually rewarding scenarios that encourage ongoing collaboration.  We need to adapt to a new future. 

Yes, there are areas of overlap that will need negotiation. But realistically, was there ever a time without issues to discuss?  I expect to revisit this topic in the near future.

Like it or not, the multi-lane highway of the Internet is going to get bigger and better.  A collaborative effort can be mutually beneficial.

Do you have any ideas or comments?


This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

Online Marketing Tips: Gallery Websites and Internal Links

3M & m Candy Dispenser    (back view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The Internet provides a powerful new way for galleries to engage potential buyers.  And most galleries nowadays do have beautiful graphics and images on their websites.  However, some sites are not yet taking full advantage of the interactive capabilities to enhance the client's experience

3M & m Candy Dispenser    (front view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

A website enables a gallery to be showing and promoting their entire inventory 24 hours a day around the world in beautiful full color.  The website (like a full-time digital assistant) should help the visitor enjoy themselves nearly as well as a walk-in visitor to the gallery itself.  The website is not just a place to publish static text announcements and pictures.  It is a dynamic medium that can and should be able to help visitors easily cross-reference the artists' profiles, statements, and artwork along with the variety of events and other content that is unique to each gallery. 

Here are a couple of easy recommendations from my personal experience.


Internal Links   On a number of different gallery websites, I've noticed the same problem. For upcoming gallery shows, the website announces the show and lists the exhibiting artists' names, but does not enable internal links to the participating artists' pages and images within the gallery's own website.  Each artist's name on the website could have been a hyperlink taking the visitor directly to images of the artist's work already at the gallery.  The lack of internal links forces the visitor to stop, look around, and attempt to figure out how to navigate around the website for additional information.  If visitors get frustrated, they leave.  Consequently, both the gallery and the artist may have lost potential buyers.  Internal links also enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is very beneficial to any website.


3M & m Candy Dispenser (close-up view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Hyperlink Anchors   A long page of content on a single web page is a common occurrence on many websites.   If a visitor must scroll down an extensive page to find multiple artists or exhibitions further down a web page, then I recommend that some hyperlink anchors should be inserted at important subsections . . . and a small navigation list of these subsections (similar to a table of contents) should be shown at the top of the page.  This helps a visitor who is unfamiliar with the website to see what is further down and "jump" directly to an item of content.  The purpose is to empower visitors to follow their interests as easily as possible. 

These are two very useful and easy features to implement that can make a gallery website more enjoyable for visitors - and more profitable for both the gallery and the artist.  Artists can be advocates by providing amazing images and giving constructive feedback to galleries regarding ease of navigating around the gallery website.

Galleries continue to offer real benefits for clients by selecting and displaying work of merit from represented artists and makers.  Additional guidance, appraisals, and insights can be achieved through direct contact.   The overall value still revolves around the client relationship, even if a part of that relationship is now an online reality. 














This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

What if a show has no insurance?

Extinction Book
Judy Hoffman

Dear Harriete,

Would you put your work in a show that has no insurance? Would you try to get your own, or do it as a group? Or send lower-priced work? Or just pass?  I'm wondering what to do about an invitational show at a local arts center.

Judith Hoffman


I have frequently been asked this question.  For me, whether an exhibition includes insurance or not is always a deciding factor about whether I show my work or not.  The exhibition space must have insurance or I will not send my work to a show. 


Harriete working on the Pencil Project
Metal Arts Guild display at Maker Faire

There have only been a few minor exceptions to this rule such as when I was at Maker Faire with the local Metal Arts Guild.  At Maker Faire, I was standing right next to the display, all the work was in a very heavy locked case, and I showed less important work.

Insurance during shipping is a related matter.  You can buy insurance for shipping from the shipping agent.  I try to use the U.S.P.S. (United States Postal Service) if possible for shipping my work.  At the post office, it is easy to either purchase insurance or send the work registered mail, insured for better handling.  Unfortunately, they have size limitations for the boxes they will handle.

Alternatively, the exhibition sponsor might have insurance that will cover the work while in transit.  Check with them in advance before shipping your work.

Make sure that arrangements for return shipping are handled in a similar manner.  Personally, I do not consider shipping work by UPS acceptable for one-of-a-kind art or craft. Check in advance how the exhibition sponsor plans to return your work.

It is always your responsibility to pack your work carefully and professionally so that it will arrive safely.  Shipping companies DO NOT accept responsibility for damaged items - even if it is insured -- if it is not packed properly. Stay tuned, there will be a new Professional Guidelines topic about Packing and Shipping Art and Craft in the coming months.  In the meantime, if you ever need it, there is an excellent Professional Guidelines topic titled, "Artist Checklist: Claims for Damaged Work."


This post was updated on December 27, 2021.