Clueless and Crazy? The Southern Highland Craft Guild…

The mission of the Southern Highland Craft Guild:

“Bringing together the crafts and craftspeople of the Southern Highlands for the benefit of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation.”

This is the link to their website…http://www.southernhighlandguild.org

If you have never been to a SHCG Show, you are missing out. I attended my first one in 1986 before I ever took my first calligraphy class. I was inspired, impressed, and amazed at the talent and depth of work the exhibitors created. The show is held twice a year – July & October – in Asheville, NC. The only artists allowed to apply for the show are those who are members of the guild…and you can only become a member of the guild through a three-part application process.

The first part of the application process includes submitting five pictures of your best work created in the last two years to a blind jury. The written application is about ten pages and asks you to describe in detail the process of creating your work, how it has evolved, and what tools or elements you use to create the finished piece. It asks you to describe how you learned your craft and how you developed your pricing model. (Now you see why it takes about ten pages!)

If you make it to the second round, you are asked to bring examples of your work to Asheville for a second jury. At that time your work is presented with a ‘slate’ of other artists who also made it to the second round. All the artists in your slate are reviewed (with magnifying glasses and by a team of experts) and either everyone is asked to join the guild, or everyone is rejected. The final step in the application process is the acceptance of your work into their five gift shops throughout the southeast. Whew!

When I attended that first show in 1986, I was overwhelmed by the people and the work. I could NEVER have imagined that twenty-six years later I would be applying for membership in the guild. Yesterday I sent off my five photos, my ten page application, and my check for the first part of the process…GULP! This was one of my goals for my art career this year, just to apply.

I have no idea what is going to happen with my application, time will tell. I am very nervous and all my feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and inferiority have been pouring through my rain. Yipes! That side of my brain tells me, “You have no formal art training…you barely know what you are doing…you are a cube dweller, not an artist…you can’t compete with “REAL” crafts people from the southeast…who do you think you are…what makes you think you will get in…c’mon, some of these people have been creating their craft for three or four generations…GULP!

And yet I sent in my application anyway. Does that mean I am crazy, naive, or just plain silly, possibly? Do I have any idea what chain reaction I set in motion when I dropped the application in the mailbox at the post office…not a clue! Being clueless made me remember my first calligraphy workshop in Oostmalle, Belgium in 1992. I sat down to dinner and introduced myself to the three people already seated at the table: John Stevens (my teacher) who created the Simply Orange packaging, album covers and is world-renowned for his work; Julian Waters, the calligrapher for National Geographic, and the woman (whose name I can’t remember) who was the calligrapher for the National Cathedral and the White House…needless to say I was flabbergasted!!! I ate dinner with them and began absorbing their ideas, knowledge and hoped that one day I could be a “REAL” calligrapher…

So its twenty years later and I sent in my application to the most prestigious craft guild in the southeast, I am beginning the journey from cube dweller to full-time artist, and I am battling the voices in my head telling me how crazy this whole adventure might become…clueless and crazy are a dangerous combination. Sometimes the best ideas come out of clueless moments when fear is overridden by crazy and blind, dumb naivety. If I had known who was sitting at that table in Oostmalle, I would never have had the guts to sit down…sometimes not knowing what you are heading into is the best path to follow. The clueless and crazy path ahead may be a prerequisite for great adventure.

Here are the five pieces I submitted with my applciation:

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I’ll post the results I receive from round one of my SHCG application…stay tuned!

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