SCHMUCK Munich, SIERAAD Amsterdam, ATHENS Jewelry Week, AUTOR Bucarest, FLORENCE Jewelry Week, SNAG Conference USA, …

How do you choose which jewelry event to attend? Are they similar? What do you get out of it? Are they expensive? Are you missing something if you don’t go?

These questions have been haunting me and many of my jewelry friends. And also: if you choose to attend all of them, when do you find time to produce some work? So let me tell you a little bit about the one that I attended a month ago: the SNAG conference.

SNAG stands for “Society of North American Goldsmiths”. Don’t take this too literally: everyone can attend (although most of the attendees are from the US). This year there were quite some Europeans ! Neither do you have to be a “goldsmith” in the traditional sense of the word: most people would describe themselves as “metalsmiths” or as “contemporary art jewelry makers”.

The conference is a 3,5 day event held every year in another American/Canadian city, at the end of May. Everything is concentrated in 1 location, generally a big hotel (where the participants can also stay at a preferred rate) and where everybody meets everybody. This year it was in New Orleans, next year it will be in Portland, Oregon. I have been going to all the conferences since 2001 (Phoenix, Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, Toronto, …) and will continue to do so. It’s just too much fun!

Who’s attending?: jewelry artists of all ages and backgrounds, gallerists, students, teachers, collectors, curators, etc. What I like so much about these conferences is that information flows freely, and everybody (even big names) is very approachable. For me this is my once-a- year dose of inspiration, networking, reconnecting. I always come back tired but elated and full of new ideas and the urge to make new work. Getting to know new gallerists and collectors is also a huge bonus!

This is what you will get when you register for the conference (+/- 400 $ for the whole conference, cheaper for students. You have to add your travel and lodging expenses):

– pin swap : every participant makes between 10 and 100 low-cost pins and exchanges them while making new friends, catching up with old friends, having a drink, talking a lot and enjoying the start of the conference.
– every day several lectures on a variety of topics. I find these always very inspiring and really well organised: keynote speakers, main stage 45 minutes presentations, shorter early career artist presentations, professional development presentations, etc. Former keynote speakers included Gijs Bakker, Neri Oxman (MIT), Ted Noten, Ruudt Peeters, Don Friedlich, Gart Clark, Glenn Adamson, Liebeth Den Besten, etc.
– portfolios reviews: the Portfolio Review is for emerging artists, students or anyone in need of critical feedback. Gallery representatives, curators, artists, and other professionals in the field are available to provide professional advice and guidance.
– student slide show presentation: always interesting to see what art school students are up to.
– adorned spaces: a special 2-day event. 20 different pop-up galleries offer a fresh look at the field of contemporary metalsmithing. This juried event will highlight both established and emerging artists.
– exhibition crawl: an evening when several galleries in town are open late and show special jewelry exhibitions. Always lots of fun!
– trunk show: where +/- 50 artists sell their jewelry during 1 afternoon. Also open to the general public.
– exhibition in motion: a highly popular juried event where makers will be highlighting large-scale wearable pieces on the runway (+ final party !!!)
And also:
-access to the vendor room: buy some materials, tools, stones, pearls, books at wholesale prices. In addition there are also demos.
– silent auction: bid on some donated jewelry, artwork, tools, materials and maybe get away with something!
– jewelry shows/competitions you can participate in, unannounced pop-up shows, studio visits, …
– pre and post conference workshops (not included in the conference fee)

Want to join me next year? For those who live far away: come earlier or stay later and make a vacation out of it. There are always museums to visit, new cities or landscapes to discover, etc.

Society of North American Goldsmith’s 47th Annual Conference: “MADE: Makers Across Disciplines Engage”

May 23rd-26th, 2018 / Portland, Oregon, USA / Hotel: Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront

call for speaker proposals are open now!

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