SNAG Conference, Meta Mosaic

My Meta-Mosaic Conference Highlights

I had meant to document my favourite things about the Meta-Mosaic conference earlier but things got busy. The 2013 SNAG conference finished a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d take note of what was most memorable to me. It was my first SNAG conference and although I’d read about some of the events, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to say that it was overall a wonderful experience for me and I’d like to attend another one in the future. I did my best to attend all demos, panel discussion, speakers and social events but I did miss a few things.

The conference took place from May 15 to 18 but the Metal Arts Guild of Canada did put on several pre-conference workshops during the week before. I decided to attend one of them and choosing was a bit difficult.

Workshop: The Creative Process of Developing an Artistic Identity

I decided to take the workshop “The Creative Process of Developing an Artistic Identity” instructed byMichael David Sturlin. The Jewellery Arts program at George Brown College makes us spend a lot of time developing design concepts and going through a specific process to do this. I therefore wasn’t sure if this would be the right workshop form me, or if I might benefit more from a more technical workshop. I decided to go ahead with this one because it’s something that interests me, the most help I can get with developing creative designs I can get the better, and if nothing else, the perspective from a different teacher can’t hurt. Because we weren’t making any actual metal jewellery, the workshop was held in a room at Harbourfront Centre.

I won’t go into too many details but Micheal picked a shape for us to work with and first lead us through exercises on paper. Once we got to a certain point, we moved on to making models with a variety of materials. By the end of the second day I was saturated with information (which is a good state for me to be in at the end a workshop) and I had some solid jewellery models I wanted to further work with. I wouldn’t have come up with them by myself and I got tons of information on methods to develop future work.

Michael is a great teacher and makes the whole process fun. He facilitates the exploration of ideas without judgment (even if you veer of course a bit, that seems to be ok) and works with individual students at the stage they’re at in the process. He mentioned he teaches a one-day fold-forming class and I’d love to have the opportunity to take it.

Since doing the workshop, I’ve safely put away all my sketches and models and when I have a few days free (yes, I will make time for this!) I’m going to take some of these ideas all the way through to completed jewellery or sculptural items. I got an idea for a non-jewellery piece during the workshop – you can apply a lot of the things we learned to making things other than jewellery. Anyhow, all this to say I’m really happy with my decision to take this workshop, it’s given me a lot of food for thought.

The SNAG Conference Itself

Portfolio Review

On of my top experiences at the conference was the Portfolio Review for students. Certain individuals with lot of experience in the jewellery industry were asked if they would take part in this. Basically student could make an appointment with one of the reviewers during this event and they got to spend 15 minutes talking to them. You couldn’t go over your time because someone else was in line right after you. It was kind of like speed dating but much more productive:). I was lucky enough to see two reviewers, one was a Canadian who had owned a gallery for many years and the other was a jewellery artist (I’m not sure how they label themselves but this seems to fit) and educator in the United States.

I had a plan. Because the gallery owner had probably seen their share of “the good, the bad and the ugly” in terms of portfolios, I wanted to get as much information as to what they look for in a portfolio. We dove right in and she got right to the point with tips, what are good ways to structure your portfolio and what to avoid in a resume. I took notes and got some solid information, it was just what I was looking for!

Since I had gotten lots of information on putting together a portfolio from the first reviewer, I wanted to spend my second session talking specifically about my work. My top question was what should I focus on in the next year (the last year in my program)? I wanted to know what in my work needs improving in order to do what I want to do. I talked briefly about my background, what I wanted to do in a few year we went through my portfolio (ok, I wouldn’t really call it a portfolio, I had printed out some pictures of pieces and brought a couple of examples). The reviewer pointed out what they felt was solid and what I needed to work on. I got her honest opinion and concrete suggestions relating to specific pieces of my work.

I feel really lucky to have had the chance to chat about my work with people who have lots of experience in the field, it wouldn’t have happened otherwise. If you’re a student attending a SNAG conference, I strongly recommend taking part in this! And specifically knowing what you want to get out of your appointment and preparing your questions beforehand helps a lot.

Professional Development Seminar (PSD) “Sacred Cow, Purple Cow, Cash Cow”

Another SNAG conference event that stands out for me is the Professional Development Seminar (PSD), or what I refer to as “the purple cow thingy”. This seminar was inspired by the TED talk, “How to Get Your Ideas Spread” and series of speakers were gathered to tell us about their own experiences or share their expertise.

Among them were Rachel Timmins who talked about video and photo documentation and shared with us tips on setting a mood and narrative for pictures, Lara Bazant who talked about “tapping into the experiential economy” and shared with us how she started her business, Natasha Granatstein who told us about her experience in setting up pop-up stores on the Danforth, Justin D. Hartzman and Jeremy Poriah from All You Can Eat Internet touched on SEO, responsive web design and apps and finally Michelle Bilodeau, the editorial director at Front Row Mag.

Michelle shared with us tons of tips on how to prepare a pitch for magazines and how to get it in the right hands (hopefully! that’s the goal anyways…). I had heard about “pitching” but it all seemed like a mystical process so it was nice to hear what someone from that industry had to say. We even heard from several presenters where to get “affordable” models for our jewellery. All in all, it was excellent information on how to improve and move your business forward.

Other Events…

I’m realizing that my blog post is already much longer than I intended and I haven’t even talked about half the things I wanted to. There were many other speakers that were entertaining and informative and I haven’t even talked about the demos.  Maybe I’ll have time to blog more about this later but in the meanwhile, thanks to Lisanne Skeoch for doing the jewellery illustration demo and telling us all about those fabulous markers – I know what I’m using to do my illustrations next year! Oh, and I have to say the trunk show was also very memorable, it was inspiring to see all that creative jewellery (but the crowd was crazy!).

But the biggest highlight of the Meta-Mosaic for me was getting to meet other jewellery students and jewellers from other cities and talking to them about what they’re doing. I got a great dose of perspective!

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