Pathways to Membership

Pathways to Membership, Part IV, Nominations 

ArtisansGalleryTeam is formed as a means for studio artisans to market and promote our unique, handmade work on Etsy. We are based on a gallery model in that our team appeals to buyers who want an assurance of technical quality, a selection that delights and surprises, and outstanding customer service. In my decades of gallery management and ownership, I studied gallery clientele. I found that the vast majority of gallery shoppers are not interested in sales, bargains, or something available everywhere else. They were shopping for something rare, finely designed and crafted, something that fed their soul. Gallery patrons are sensitive to issues of environmental sustainability, supporting small indie businesses, and watching an artisan grow and develop their body of work.
As founders of the team, Merritt, and I, are now focusing our energies on the vetting and jury process; Jen, of Polestar, is team captain, and Monica, of Moonovermaize, is team leader. This post is intended to shed light on what our jury system is designed to select. Team members, please post questions in the comments! Our dialogue can help everyone make appropriate nominations. We are looking for work that meets or exceeds our team standards. We are also looking to maintain a balance and variety in all of our categories. In order to be admitted to this team in the most popular category, jewelry, the work must be different from our current members’ work, and/or presented in an unusual manner; styled for a niche buyer.
We are looking for artisans who are growing and progressing, as this journey interests buyers. We would rather see a less developed artisan who is actively learning and improving than a skilled artisan who has hit a plateau and does not reach any higher. A candidate who has been rejected by the jury once and made improvements as a result is given bonus points for the next jury. Nurturing new talent is a priority for us!
We are looking for active team players; a significant difference from when we started a year ago. Our team captain and leader have organized opportunities to participate in team promotions. By joining our team, your work will be in many social media sites. Few of us have the time to tweet, Tumble, Facebook, blog, be featured in blog and magazine articles, and cross promote in treasuries every day. As a team member, your work will be in all of that while you promote in the social media sites that interest you. We are reaching beyond Etsy to capture the interests of artisan patrons who can’t find what they are looking for in the flea market listings of Etsy at large. We aim to let our buyers know that genuine quality artisan works are available on Etsy, and to help them find what they are seeking.
Team members, we need shops that balance, compliment and add something unique to our current members’ work. When you run across quality artisan shops, please take the time to examine their shop. Ask yourself the questions that our jury asks: does the work have a distinct point of view? Does the shop copy describe studio methods and materials in detail? Is the photography uncluttered, with primarily neutral backgrounds, and some with imaginative staging props? Is the feedback indicative of buyer satisfaction, and is there at least a Feedback rating of 10? Are there at least 3 listings that are highly unique; unlike other things commonly seen on Etsy? Is the shop up to date, with consistent sales, and current news?
The jewelry featured is from 3Squares, who received a perfect jury score last time, so be sure to check her shop of amazing artisan works!

Pathways to Membership, Part III

At this time, ArtisansGalleryteam has been overwhelmed with requests to join. We are currently seeking applications through the recommendations of current members only.

Thank you all for your enthusiastic response to our new team, and please understand that we are unable to receive open applications at this time.

You can leave a link to your Etsy shop, and a brief statement as to why you see yourself as a good fit for our team, in these comments. We will review them when we are able to consider open applications. Thanks, and best wishes on your own creative journey.

Pathways to Membership Part I

Our jury for Artisans Gallery Team consists of 3-6 members in various media. Each jury is different, so if an aspiring shop is rejected by one jury, our recommendation is to review what we are looking for, make strategic changes,  and then try the next jury.
Prospective shops are graded from 1-5 in 3 areas: Originality,Skill, and Presentation. Each juror grades every shop and then the scores are averaged. Here are the exact instructions sent to each juror:
Originality: Do you see anything unique and personal? Does the artist have a distinctive style, an original voice, a personal vision? Overall, is this work very much like numerous other Etsy shops, or does it stand out? Is this work than you might see in a Fine Arts and Crafts gallery?

Skill: Do you see advanced techniques? Could this work be made after just a few classes or has this work evolved after much practice? Is the person knowledgeable about the materials used? Do you see evidence of  pride in quality craftsmanship?

Presentation: This is a grade for the photography and written copy of the shop. Are the photos clear, are some staged with interesting props or models, can they be used in treasuries well? Are the photos uncluttered?  Is the shop announcement clear; showing personality without rambling? Are the product descriptions complete? Does the profile give artistic history and credentials? Is the overall feeling professional?
After jurying, the scores are sent back to the vetting team for final review. Our jury has been complete for some time now, and I apologize to prospective members, as one of the vetting team, for holding up our process. I am recovering beautifully from surgery but have needed time to mend. We will announce new members in the next week.
Happy 4th of July to US readers! I will be back to answer any questions left in comments below.
Pt 1 of this series is here
by Lee/ OneClayBead

Pathways to Membership Part II

Our intention as a team is to allow buyers of fine artisan work to locate genuine artisans of distinction on Etsy. With a rigorous vetting and jury process, we select shops with high quality handmade work and excellent customer service. Buyers who shop from our team page are thrilled with their finds, and most of our members report increased sales and exposure after joining. We already have 6 times more requests to join than room on our team, so please review our requirements carefully if you’d like to join us!

Our jury process for Artisans Gallery Team begins with nominations. Once a year we will take open applications but your best chance of making this team is to be nominated by an existing member. It’s easy to make connections. Get involved with treasuries, and  include team members’ work, blog or tweet about those whom you admire. Many of our members scour Etsy for exciting new listings to include in our treasuries. If you are notified that you are in a treasury, comment on the treasury in a personable way. This is not about pandering; it is our way of assessing whether you are a genuine artisan with an active interest in your shop and not a reseller. Strike up a relationship and ask a few members to consider nominating you. Nominations are sent to our vetting team at specific times once or twice a year.  The purpose of vetting is to:
1) determine that each shop is owned by the maker of the work. No manufactured goods or coops allowed; partnerships are fine. A shop announcement, profile, and location must be filled in, and each must give enough information to make a determination. When necessary, websites and blogs are reviewed, and the shop listings are googled.
2) evaluate the technical abilities and knowledge of the shop owner in their media. False information about the materials used disqualifies a shop from membership.
3) assess the shop’s professional presentation in a broad sense and decide if it is suitable as gallery quality and fits the categories currently open for new membership.
4) examine the feedback and any other indicators of high customer satisfaction and recognition for distinction.
This is only the start! Shops that pass vetting are sent to our jury, which is a separate team of 3-6 individuals who grade each shop.  Part 2 will cover our jury standards.

This team was started by Lee of OneClayBead (me) and Merritt of merritthyde. Our current acting VP is Betsy of betsybensen. Paula of PaulaArt is a founding member and blog manager. I have owned, managed, and been a buyer for fine art and craft galleries for decades, and used the standards learned in my career in forming this unique team. It is my hope that new and emerging artisans will use our standards as a springboard for self evaluation and improvement. It has been my experience that all true artisans grow and change our entire lives, and this blog and this team are a celebration of that journey.

If you have questions about our vetting process, ask them in the comments and I’ll be back to reply to each one.