This may sound like crazy advise, but even if the art you create has nothing to do with beads, gemstones or precious metal, you are shortchanging yourself and your business if you don’t attend a bead show this season. Ideally, you should visit a major show like the Tucson Gem Shows, but if you can’t travel to Arizona, there are likely smaller gem shows within a few hours of your home.
Here’s why you must attend a gem show:
Even though I seldom make jewelry anymore, I get inspired to do other creative projects every time I walk a gem show. You can’t see all those colors, textures and shapes without a burst of new ideas.
Whether you create sculpture, wearables, fiber art or wall art, you need to be current on trends and any trade show will give you an overview of what’s happening in fashion, home and lifestyle. Even if you make vintage crafts, you MUST be up on popular colors and styles.
Original VS Knockoff:
For years I sold venetian art glass and beads handmade on the island of Murano in Italy. If I didn’t attend mainstream tradeshows, I’d have no idea that thousands of vendors now sell what they call “Murano glass” which is factory-made in China and looks to the untrained eye like the real thing. I wouldn’t have known why my sales of venetain glass slowed down and people thought the prices of the handmade pieces were outrageous. Learning that what you make is being knocked off for a much lower price doesn’t mean you should stop making that item, only that you must be sure your creations are different enough from the copies to warrant the much higher price. And, you should make sure that you or anyone wearing or selling your work knows your personal story and why your work is special and commands a higher price. (The designer whose venetian glass jewelry I sold had been an opera singer and her story was part of the intrigue. See “why your art needs a story” HERE. )
Gem shows are also a source of connection with other artists in different media. I’ve never attended a bead show that didn’t include vendors other than gems and jewelry. As is the case anywhere you assemble artists, you’ll find a high level of creative energy and opportunity to learn and network with like-minded people. And if those aren’t reasons enough, you’ll have good, clean FUN. Go play.