NYIGF Winter-2011 Handmade Designer Maker E-mail



DATES: January 29-February 2, 2011


PAID ATTENDANCE: 35,000 (Total Fair Attendance - GLM)

BOOTH COST (10x10): $2,500.00 and above





Unable to visit the NYIGF last summer, I was looking forward to seeing the new Javits Center North facility and their Handmade Designer Maker section, GLM’s answer to the many critics over the years who have been clamoring for a space devoted specifically to handmade – in particularly American made.

The old pavilion, which offered a ton of natural light and where it could be cold and wet in the winter and hot and humid in the summer, held a certain cache to those of us who exhibited there.nyigf-1

I have to admit though that I believe the new facility blows the pavilion away; it’s bright, spacious, warm and dry! It’s also a big upgrade from the Javits Level 1 halls and even better than the Galleria. The only problem is that it’s all the way at the end of the Javits – connected by a hallway about 100 feet long – and the lack of signage in the main hall could easily cause a prospective buyer to miss it entirely.

This new incarnation of the previous Handmade section (Handmade Designer Maker) gave GLM an opportunity to better group the U.S and Canadian handmade exhibitors together, moving most of the imported handmade exhibitors to a new Global Design section.

Even though there were German and British craft sections of about 10 exhibitors each – and a few Fair Trade exhibitors sprinkled in – the quality of the work in the Handmade Designer Maker was better than anything I’ve seen at the NYIGF before.  Hopefully the section will morph into a place that will be housed entirely with U.S. and Canadian artists.

For gallery/gift shop owners that shop the NYIGF, this section offers a good variety of quality work. There isn’t a lot of high-end, high-cost work, but plenty of moderately priced work that has become pretty much the staple of most craft shops these days.

And while the NYIGF doesn’t offer the quantity or breadth of handmade work a buyer would find at the Buyers Market of American Craft or American Craft Council wholesale shows, the supply of handmade artists exhibiting seems to fit the current demand for their work.nyigf-2

Plus, because the Handmade Designer Market section opens on Saturday – a full day before the gift sections open – traditionally gift-only buyers are taking the opportunity an extra day gives them to consider work by these handmade artists.

As far as buyer attendance is concerned, the aisles were fairly crowded and artists were busy on the Saturday that I visited. Historically the GLM has never had much a problem attracting buyers; it’s just that most of those buyers were not necessarily buyers of handmade work.

Although the effort GLM has made to attract more buyers for craft galleries/shops has somewhat paid off, more than 45% of those artists surveyed were unhappy with the total attendance at this year’s show.

For artists considering applying to the NYIGF, my suggestion is to contact them today. Even when during slow times, a space at NYIGF is treated like prime real estate by most of it’s exhibitors, and GLM isn’t really known as a show that rejects loyal, existing vendors regardless of their work.


This is even more evident in that while 29% of those artists surveyed rated their show experience of Not Very Good or less, only 7% responded that they wouldn’t apply next year.nyigf-3

In the past a savvy artist wanting a spot in the Handmade section – particularly one not located in the outer recesses (i.e. Piers) of the show – could negotiate for a spot with the promise of doing one of GLMs failing shows in Boston, Washington or Chicago. This is no longer an option.


With the cost of a booth more than $2,500 plus travel and shipping expenses, and the chance of ending the show with a stack of orders, this show is not for the semi-serious artist.

With the changes GLM has made to raise the profile of it’s handmade sections – and hopefully more to come – the NYIGF is gaining a reputation as being a show all artists that sell to galleries/gift shops are considering.




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