Artists have long known that the key to a craft business’s survival is creativity and change. And, it seems, craft shows are taking a cue from artists when it comes to ensuring their longevity, revisiting their venues each year to keep them fresh and enticing, both for the exhibitors and show shoppers.
This year, the American Craft Council’s thirty-sixth annual Baltimore show is no exception. Taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center, the show is broken into two sections, Wholesale, from February 21 – 23, 2012, and Retail, from February 24 – 26, 2012. Within these two sections, attendees can survey handmade goods from more than seven hundred of the country’s finest craftspeople. Did not get what you wanted for the holidays? Coming fresh after the season’s celebrations, ACC Baltimore provides the opportunity to purchase jewelry, clothing, furniture, sculpture, home décor, and distinctive goods for yourself or other lucky recipients.
Back by popular demand are sections introduced to the show in recent years, like the Handmade Under $100 category, which helps artists call out items in their booth that retail at affordable prices. This in part boosts artist sales in a conservative economy, but also encourages budding collectors to acquire new works without breaking their wallets. Also returning for 2012 is Greencraft—a category highlighting artists who use eco-friendly materials and processes in their art, a fast growing segment of the craft population.
Education is an important facet, too, in keeping the show circuit alive and well. ACC Baltimore offers a demonstration stage for artist presentations, and the encouraging School-To-Market section, where students—this year from Savannah College of Art and Design—present a curated section of their work, gaining first-hand experience in booth set-up, installation, sales, and public interaction.
Seasoned attendees, of which the show has accrued many in its more than three decades, will be pleased to see that ACC continues to push the envelope with a few new show categories in 2012. Foodieware appeals to the culinary artist in all of us, with fantastic functional objects for the kitchen and beyond. The Bride-To-Be capitalizes on the lucrative wedding market as more and more bride and grooms turn away from the traditional registry process in favor of more individualized, meaningful gifts. The Local section is just that—a place for nearby artists to present their crafts to a national audience. Perhaps most exciting and overdue, is the addition of the Men’s Department, where men of all ages, and those who love them, can shop for artist-made clothes, accessories and goods. And, for the big players, there is the Blue Chip Club, featuring one-of-a-kind works priced at ten thousand dollars and up.
As usual, wearable arts are well represented in the show, with a large number of exhibitors in the multiple wearable categories. 2012 will present a strong variety of jewelry, leather and fiber works, with the return of the heavy-hitters, as well as new artists in each category. Artists themselves seem to be pushing ever-forward with their works, exploring new designs, many in bolder pops of vibrant colors, always a welcome reminder of the spring season around the corner.
Buyers attending the wholesale portion of ACC Baltimore can attend educational pre-show workshops, an evening reception with Bryan Batt, author and Mad Men interior designer, and gain free access to other 2012 ACC Retail Shows. Retail show shoppers can purchase tickets online to save a few dollars and avoid waiting at the site, and can take advantage of special five dollar admission after 5 p.m. on Friday.
With its diverse offering of handmade objects from juried artists across the country, as well as educational
and community events, it is refreshing to see that craft shows such as Baltimore continue to adapt to a changing marketplace, demonstrating their commitment to craft, and to the artists and buyers who appreciate the virtues
of the handmade.
Our upcoming issue 37.4 contains
Philadelphia Craft Show
Some of Our Popular Articles