Tips for Applying to Indie Craft Parade

Erin Godbey

Applications for the festival open June 1, and each year, more and more talented makers are competing for the same number of spots at Indie Craft Parade. The jury reviews all applications anonymously and chooses the best submissions for the festival. Work is judged according to its originality, uniqueness and innovation, along with how well it aligns with the vision of Indie Craft Parade.

In addition, the jury is looking for:

  • High quality photos 
  • Cohesive aesthetic     
  • Modern branding
  • For previous exhibitors, a progression from past years   

Here are a few tips on how to showcase your strengths and stand out from the crowd.

Photography: This the primary method jury members use to determine the quality of your work. We cannot stress enough the importance of good photography. When you submit an application, you have 4 photos and a brief description of your work to put in front of the jury. Make sure those photos are impressive. This doesn't mean you have to hire a professional photographer, but if you're not fully confident in your photography skills, ask for assistance or advice from a friend who takes great photos. If you're shooting with your phone, there are lots of great apps that you can use to edit your photos, but don't over-filter! Keep the colors true and the product in focus. (Our favorite photo editing apps are VSCO and ColorStory.)

Give your product context.

Make sure your photo is well-lit and the product is in focus

Show multiple products in one image.

Style your product to create a sense of your brand aesthetic. 

Or let your product have the spotlight with a clean white background.

Quality: The jury is looking for signs of craftsmanship, so if an application is completed haphazardly — the description full of typos or photos out of focus — this reflects poorly on your work. Take an extra minute to re-read what you've written and make sure you submitted the correct photos, and that they are oriented as you intended. This extra attention will convey that you care about what you do.

If you have tiny details that can be missed from far away, consider using one of your images for a close up shot that will show off your skills.

Cohesive Aesthetic: The four photos you submit should be representative of your current body of work. The jury is looking for a cohesive aesthetic that ties all of your work together. This is especially important if you make a wide variety of products, or if your work spans multiple mediums and categories. Emphasize the cohesion of your work by shooting photos in a manner that unifies them, whether that's a similar background or styling decision.

Branding: Let the jury know you're serious about your products by paying attention to the presentation. The branding and packaging of your goods doesn't need to be fancy or even professionally produced (although it never hurts to have an expert work on your logo and packaging design). However, adding modern, unique branding will help make your work memorable. This tip doesn't apply as much for fine artists or applicants who have a completely original products, but for the makers of consumable goods (soap, candles, artisan food, etc.), the branding and packaging is the primary deciding factor for the jury.

Progression: For artists who have exhibited at Indie Craft Parade in the past, the jury is looking to see a progression of skill and that your work has evolved. Hint: don't submit the same exact photos you did last year. This doesn't mean that your body of work is expected to be be completely new each year, just that you should be continuing to refine, create, improve, and innovate. 

Cory Godbey   /   The series above shows images from 4 consecutive application years.

Cory Godbey  /  The series above shows images from 4 consecutive application years.

Originality, Uniqueness and Innovation: You want your work to stand out from other applications, especially if you're entering a highly competitive category like To Wear. Our best advice is to show the jury something they haven't seen before. An item made with an unexpected material or color is going to catch the jury's eye a lot quicker than something they've seen a hundred times before. Also, our jury loves seeing a fresh, modern take on a traditional craft, like a dip-dyed woven basket or a carved wooden pedestal with clean lines.

The vision of Indie Craft Parade: We are looking for the highest quality handmade goods in the realm of modern craft. The emphasis is on quality and modern. Experience and background aren't a deciding factor; if you create the most amazing handcrafted work, we don't care if you’ve been doing it for 30 years or 3 months, we want to see it! This isn't your grandma's church bazaar, not a place where you'll find "country crafts" or monogrammed tupperware. We feature modern craft; high quality work with a fresh and unique spin.

We hope these tips help you put your best foot forward, and we can't wait to see all the submissions! 

All images shown are from previous Indie Craft Parade exhibitors.