The Graduates and the Show
For those of us who have graduated and gone through the process of finding our feet after University, we understand the importance of events such as New Designers. Degree shows can highlight our work yet depending on which university attended, it is a challenge to be seen – to get noticed. Shows such as New Designers cater to a wider audience and allow us to view Graduates work from further afield, to see what we are up against on the start of our creative careers.
I have been fortunate enough to experience this show on all three levels – as an exhibitor, visitor and as part of my role as Retail Supervisor. New Designers is an experience in itself – highly enjoyable, tiring, satisfying and sometimes (nearing the end of the day) frustrating.
As an exhibitor, this event was highly beneficial. Having graduated from a small course, the final degree show consisted mainly of family, friends and past students. It was more of a social affair than a professional one and so having New Designers as something to work towards drove us to work harder, and to consider our work within the wider art world. It is easy to feel safe with those that have seen the work develop and change, there comes a point where an explanation isn’t necessarily needed – the absolute fear of having to explain my work to strangers, pushed me into thinking how best to describe the work clearly and concisely and what to include within the handout information. With such vast numbers of graduates and work, visitors tended to view work quickly, so peaking interest in that short amount of time was important – making sure to allow enough time for visitors to view work before introduction (without either scaring them away or awkwardly hovering), and to treat every visitor equally – as you never knew who you were talking to.
As a visitor, it was a far more relaxing experience – I could freely browse and chat with makers without worrying about getting back to the stand by a specific time. It allowed me to view graduate trends and see if current practice had moved on and developed.
As a returning visitor (with an aim) this year, research conducted beforehand was of utmost importance (an online presence, whether it be a blog, website or some information on the New Designers page is essential; it is very disappointing when you have liked a piece yet cannot find any information on the maker or work, or very limited information – such as only the final degree work, which by this point you may already have seen). With a short amount of time to view as much work as possible, it allowed me to pin point makers of interest right from the start. These starred names became the first point of call at the event, allowing me to either extend interest or to cross them off the list.
It is a very daunting experience exhibiting yet the ability to talk confidently about you and your work transfers confidence to those who are interested in it. PLEASE allow enough time for visitors to view work, there is nothing worse than being set upon before being able to take note of the work itself! A few minutes is enough, introduce yourself and the work (but don’t give everything away all at once) if the person in question is interested they will question you further.
Once the list was exhausted, it was time for a long and detailed sweep of the exhibition; navigating, collecting, chatting, moving on, returning, debating, writing. This was immediately followed by a nice cup of tea whilst delving though the information gathered (which consisted of a few names you may well see within our Craft Space in the near future). A final sweep of the event consisted of anything that immediately caught my eye; original and unique displays and the layout of individual makers and collective stands aid this.
So all in all a long but very satisfying day!
A few notes for future exhibitors:
- Be confident in discussing you and your work
- Treat every visitor with equal importance
- Allow visitors enough time to view work before introduction!
- Handout information – is there a way of condencing information as visitors will be collecting information from not only you. This WILL be appreciated!
- Online presence – either a blog or website which includes more than just your degree work
- Display – with so much to see and so little time, displays which catch the eye on first glance will attract more attention
Rhian Wyn Stone is the Retail Supervisor at Mission Gallery