“I’m a professional craftsperson, and my work has been juried by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador!”
If you are a craftsperson working in Newfoundland and Labrador, this is a valuable statement to be able to make. It means that your work has been reviewed by your professional peers, and has been found to meet the Craft Council’s written Standards of Quality. It means that your work excels in originality of design, quality of materials, and excellence in technique. It opens doors to marketing opportunities and sales venues. It will advance your business and improve your bottom line.
The Standards of Quality is a core policy document for the Craft Council that outlines criteria for excellence in craft. These criteria were developed by working craftspeople, and all works of craft to be offered for sale at Craft Council marketing events must meet these standards. The Standards Committee meets monthly, and has been doing so for more than 40 years.
Why Have Standards?
Why bother, you may ask? Why not put it all out there and let the market decide? Why is it important to have a self-regulated quality control process within the craft industry?
First, it’s a valuable service to the craftsperson. An unbiased assessment of a product’s strengths and weaknesses, along with suggestions and recommendations to improve a product’s technical and design attributes, is a useful tool. It will allow the craftsperson to make product adjustments before an extensive investment of time and finances is made in its production. If your product needs changes to meet its maximum market potential, it’s better to hear that early in the production process. You don’t have to wait until your work is made and can’t compete with other handcrafted products.
Second, it’s important to the Craft Council because we advertise our venues as offering high-quality products. Our loyal customer base now knows what high quality in craft means. They expect to find only the best at the Craft Council.
Finally, it’s important to the industry. Knowledgeable customers are willing to pay a fair price for high quality, which means that more and more craftspeople are able to make a full-time living from the production and sale of fine craft products. The provincial craft industry is now valued at $32 million a year—due in no small part to the Craft Council’s steadfast insistence on high-quality products.
The Jurying Process
The Craft Council’s Standards Committee represents the full range of media and offers valuable advice. They look for technical proficiency, materials that are of high quality and appropriate to the function of the article, and designs that are traditional or original to the maker. They always look for a distinct personal style (the hand of the maker), characteristics of design, technique and/or materials that illustrate the individuality of the craftsperson and his or her work.
Decisions of the Standards Committee
The Committee meets monthly and a decision, along with an assessment of product strengths and identification of areas where improvement is recommended, is provided in writing to each person submitting.
We know it’s a tough thing for a craftsperson to do—package up samples of your handmade work that you have spent many hours working on (and poured your heart and your passion into), send them off to a committee, and ask for a critique. We understand that, and we treat your work with the respect and care that it deserves.
We are craft makers too and understand that the marketplace is a hard place in which to make your way: lots of competition and lots of places for the buying public to spend their money.
Here at the Craft Council, we want to give you the best possible chance to make a successful career as a craftsperson, and sending samples for jurying is written into the job description of every professional maker. Want to explore a new market in the US? Want to supply a local buyer with corporate gifts? They are all going to want to see samples to determine that their criteria will be met. It’s an industry hazard, and something that you must get used to. It’s also a great benefit. We’ve heard many a craftsperson say “Thank you . . . that’s the most useful advice I’ve ever had.”
So gather up your courage and send us your best work! You’ll be sure to gain something from the process.
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