As an artist/maker and an organiser of craft and vintage markets I have experience of trying to make new, original and well made work for myself and judging other people's work by my own standards.
Today's blog is going to be a little bit about how we decide what we are looking for in stallholders for the I Make Fun Stuff markets and how that has made me work harder on my own work.
As market organisers it's really important to us that the quality of work on sale is really high, it is original, so you can't just walk into a high street shop and buy something similar and you wouldn't see it sold at a traditional craft market.We want to be different from the typical craft fair and offer the more contemporary makers a platform to sell their work and attract the right audience. The main reason we started I Make Fun Stuff is because my work wasn't selling at fairs where the others stallholders sold quilts, ceramics, wood turning etc. It just didn't fit in.
There are a few questions we ask ourselves when judging whether we think an applicants work is what we want or not.
- Have we seen it before? (Have we seen similar products from other people?)
- Would it be sold at a traditional craft fair?
- Does it suit our target audience?
- Is it well made?
- Do I wish I'd thought of that myself?
- Do I want to buy their work?
- Does it "fit" with the general feel/ethos of the market?
It is important to us that we are confident and passionate about the work of everyone who sells at our events. We don't accept every application and that is really difficult, we don't want to let people down but not everything we see is what we are looking for. Not everything we see is made well enough. Not everything we see is new and original and when it comes down to it, if our customers don't want to buy it our stallholders don't make any money. If the standard of our markets drops because our customers aren't interested in the stalls we won't be able to do them anymore so we will stand by our decisions. Also, we want to offer something unique that is exciting for our good town of Ipswich and so the work on offer needs to be unique too.
All these amazing makers and artists inspire my own work greatly and motivate me to continue to develop my products and ensure that they are the highest quality possible. I have often compared my products to someone else's, for example someone else who screen prints bags, and felt their's are better. Whether they are or not it pushes me to improve what I do and that can't be bad!