This is part 5 of our Conventions organizing series of articles.
Most crafters are artists, but not all artists are crafters. However, when it comes to your convention, all crafters are vendors. As a convention organizer, you need to decide what you classify the crafters as and you need to choose where you are drawing the line.
Are you putting crafters in with the artists, with the vendors, keeping them as a separate category, or mixing them between vendors and artists? Then how are you defining the distinctions?
Technically, all crafters are vendors; they are there to sell product, that defines them as vendors. If you just wish to put them all in the vendor category, that can easily be done. However, if you decide you want to put some more definition into how you separate the crafters, you need to look a little deeper.
Crafter / Artist
As stated earlier, not all crafters are artists, but a large portion of them are. They pour their heart and soul into their unique products.
If you aren’t going to put them in Artist Alley, then you need to find a way to separate them from the artists, and probably the best way to do that is to define crafters as artists of anything not two-dimensional. Another words, if it isn’t on a flat surface, then they are a crafter.
They have unique products. A few examples could be stuffed creatures, custom painted craft kits, molded figurines, beaded necklaces, or dolls designed and dressed to look like TV characters. These items are designed and created by the crafters. They have put their own twist on these items and made them their own.
Crafter / Vendor
Not all crafters are artists, some crafters simply assemble things. Sometimes the distinction can be hard to see, especially if you are not familiar with the type of product they are working with. If you chose to draw lines, then you need to figure out if the crafters can be defined as artists.
If the product they are offering is assembled model kits, sewn scarves that are two pieces of fabric stuck together, or a skirt made from a simple and easily accessible pattern, then those are crafters and not artists. Basically if there is no imagination involved or no unique quirks that vary it from the original product, or it’s a simple assemble by numbers, then they are simply crafters that vend a product.
If you aren’t classifying crafters as a separate entity, then these crafters should be put in the vendor category. They may not have a mass-produced product or a huge variety, but they are not artists. They are model kit builders, knitters, sewists, etc.
It’s up to you
How you define the crafters will determine where they will be arranged at your event. The definition between artist, vendor, and crafter can be a fine line, but if you don’t have a one-price-fits-all table policy, you may want to figure it out.
Once you’ve categorized them, you need to treat them exactly the same as the other Vendors or Artists you’ve grouped them with. If you put them separate, then you need to create a whole new set of parameters, though I’d suggest you follow the recommendations we gave for Artists.
Remember that the crafters are also your patrons, so everything you provide for patrons (like the other groups) is free advertisement. They want people to come to their booths or tables, so they will push the fact they are at your event.
This is just a basic overview of some of the things a convention organizer needs to consider for their crafters. Not everything applies to every convention, they all have their own unique set of circumstances.
To find out more about setting up a convention, check out our handy page on Convention Running 101.
And just to reiterate our point – These are in no way the definitive be-all and end-all rules for a convention. They are only a guideline…a place to start.
They don’t apply to all conventions, and not every convention is big enough or capable of dealing with some of the things we discuss, but it doesn’t hurt to keep some of them in mind.
If you have your own additions to this, please put them in the comments.
I do not run conventions, I have not run conventions, and I have no plans to run a convention. I’ve seen how much work they are.
These articles are based off my own experience, those of vendors, agents, artists, volunteers, and several convention organizers I have spoken to over the last several years.