Getting Ready to be Reviewed
Respect and congratulations are due to every member artisan who makes application for Master Artisan Status, the most prestigious designation of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.
Master Status in the Pennsylvania Guild is a lifetime honor awarded for a body of mature work that embodies the Three Benchmarks:
- Excellence in Craftsmanship
- Resolved Design
- Unique Voice (Contemporary Craft) or Faithful Reproduction (Traditional Craft)
Here are a few steps to take that will help you prepare to tackle this very big step in your artisan career.
- Make full use of your PGC membership. Attend PGC Fine Craft Fairs and pay close attention to the works of Master Artisans who are exhibiting. Be active in your Chapter; work with your Chapter Standards VP and achieve chapter-level master status. Listen critically to comments offered about your work and use those that you feel will lead you to a higher level. Find a mentor – or ask the Standards Vice President to help you find one – who will talk with you about your work and theirs.
- Educate your eye. Visit large museums and galleries to look at work in your medium and beyond. Notice details. Learn to recognize good design, colorand
balance, the use of tension and space. Assess how what you see could be applied to your work. Look around you. Be observant. And practice, practice, practice.
- When you do take that step and submit your work for Master Artisan jurying, remember that the process is mostimportantly
about education – learning about what is good and what might be improved in your work. (Try to) Relax. If you can open up to listening to the jurors, you’ll get the most out of the experience. Every juror who’ll be reviewing your work has been in your shoes.
- The jury will assume you are bringing your best work to be reviewed. Be sure to look your work over with a critical eye. Careful attention to details – and reviewing it with the Three Benchmarks in mind – goes a long way toward getting your work ready.
- When choosing which four to six pieces to bring for review, choose ones that complement each other – that represent your style and voice – and make sure the pieces featureyour technical mastery of your medium. Excellence in Craftsmanship, Resolved Design and Unique Voice/Faithful Reproduction. That’s what you aim to demonstrate with the collection you bring.
Works not eligible for Master Artisan consideration include:
- Works created from commercially available kits and patterns
- (Non-traditional) work that is directly derived from the work of others
- Assemblages of found or manufactured items unless it is evident the maker has significantly altered raw materials.
- Commercially produced elements may not comprise a major component of any work.
Many Master Artisans did not pass on their first – or second – attempt, very probably including members of the jury. While no one wants to hear their work didn’t pass, when Master Artisan Status is awarded, you’ll have reached a high bar reflective of all your effort. It’s not uncommon for the person who reaches this mark on the second or third try to tell us they’re glad they needed to keep stretching as their work has matured.
When the day is over, pass or fail, does the process end here? Make use of the benefits of this great membership organization. Take time to reflect. Talk to your colleagues about your work. Push yourself to continue to learn and excel. Go to galleries and museums. Be observant. Take workshops. Take chances. Enter gallery exhibits. Have fun. Make fine craft.
Our Three Benchmarks
Excellence in craftsmanship is reserved for work that shows the highest standards of quality. The work demonstrates a mastery of the medium, far beyond basic and intermediate proficiency skills. Attention to details and a thorough knowledge of the medium is demonstrated. Materials used are of the highest quality and of the best choice to enhance the overall design of the piece. The entire work is executed without technical flaw and it meets its intended purpose — e.g., if it’s a pitcher, it must pour, a jacket must fit, a drawer must glide freely. The appropriateness of technique and process are successfully united in a piece that shows excellence of craftsmanship.
Resolved Design shows good composition and artistic excellence. Choice of materials and methods shows innovation and mastery. Criteria for reproduction or original interpretation of traditional work include both the use of materials that are appropriate to the period and style and documentation to support the traditional style of the work being interpreted or reproduced.
Unique Voice speaks of the true creative nature of the Master Artisan who creates contemporary fine craft. The conceptual richness evidenced in the work shows the nature, complexity and execution that marks the work as particular to this individual artisan. It is distinctive. Unique Voice sets it apart from the work of others. It achieves an individual identity readily recognizable as belonging to this artisan.
Faithful Reproduction represents the faithful and sensitive reproduction or original interpretation of traditional styles, designs, and shapes that have defined long-respected works of the craftsmen of our history.