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Friday 10 February 2012


Me: Jill Spain of Christmas Pie Crafts

Why was my work not accepted?

I am sure many crafters have applied to show their work at events that required submission of work prior to the event (often referred to as juried events).  This can be stressful and at the same time every exciting, but it is an important part of ensure the quality of handmade is maintained.  Some organisers will require photographs of work, some details of the seller's website and some require samples of work to be sent in for assessment.  Very often work has to be submitted at least 4 - 6 months prior to the event and the waiting can be hard-going.

Hopefully our work is accepted and we have a place at the event - success.  However, it does happen that our work isn't accepted and often we don;t know why.  It's rather like a job interview, if you don't get the job you contact the company to find out why.  The same applies to an event, if you don;t hear from them by the date you expected to, or if they advise you that your application has been unsuccessful, contact them.  You need to know why you 'didn't get in'.

At this stage we question ourselves: what is wrong with my work, isn't it good?  Unfortunately, sometimes it is down to quality of workmanship.  Think of events you have attended where the work is declared as handmade - was it really handmade?  Was it good quality?  I am sure many of us review competitors work and occasionally doubt the quality.  The questions are 'would I buy this?', 'would I really want to sell this with my name on it?'.  I am sure that 100% of the time the answer is 'no' and this is partly how a jury reviews work.  They are looking for work of excellent quality to not only ensure their reputation is maintained but also the reputations of their exhibitors.

However, it is not always quality of work that prevents a crafts person taking part in an event, it can come down to something as basic as a poor photograph.  There seems to be a strange assumption that no matter how poor the photograph is, the viewer should still be able to see what great work is being submitted.  The percentage of high quality photographs submitted to juried events is staggeringly low - in fact I read recently that it is only 5%.  Isn't that worrying?  Very understandable why good work is rejected for no obvious reason - often we cannot see that our photography is poor.

Your work is good, but your photographs don;t do it justice.  This could be the photographs you submit to the event organisers as well as the photographs on our website.  Wrong backgrounds, poor lighting, wrong angle - all of these contribute to a poor photograph.  The important thing to remember is that the photographs may be the only representation of your work the event organisers and potential customers see - you want to wow them in the first few seconds of viewing, because that is all the time you have to grab their attention.

You don't have to hire professional photographers.  There are lots of websites providing guidance on how to take a good photograph.  However, just bear in mind the following suggestions and your pictures should be good:
  • Always use a white background to photograph your products - this makes your work stand out as there is no background distraction.  It can also make shadows an enhancement of the item being displayed
  • If you want to use a coloured background, use just one solid colour.  Don't be tempted by patterns, checks, swirls, etc as they detract the eye from the focus of the picture.
  • Ensure you have good lighting - this may be natural or artificial.  Practice will show you how to use lighting to improve and enhance the appearance of your work.
Good photographs show you are a professional and that your work will be an asset to an event.  Just think, one of your photographs could be on the front cover of the event programme!

There are other reasons why work is not accepted at events, not to do with quality of work or photography, but that's another blog topic for a later date.

Good luck


  1. Feedback is a must but sadly does not always happen, an excellent post as always thank you Jill

  2. Hello Christmas Pie Crafts - just popped by to award you 'The Liebster Award' - see my blog for further details Pamela x

  3. I've never had to submit photo's for a craft event (up to now) but I have for my artwork at galleries and the waiting can be quite stressful.
    I've always had feedback so consider myself lucky.

    Jan x

    1. I think feedback is important and it is a pity that some organisers/galleries do not bother - very few and far between I am sure. Hope you like your Leibster award.


Thank you for your comment - it is always lovely to have feedback and I hope you enjoyed my post.