Application, Description & Image Assessment

Master Artisan status recognizes artists in the Guild who exemplify our three benchmarks: Excellence in Craftsmanship, Resolved Design and Unique Voice or Faithful Representation of a Heritage Craft. To achieve this honor, members’ work is juried by a panel of Master Artisans.

Members may apply, via the link below, to be scheduled for a Master Artisan Jury Session. The online application requires 4 to 6 digital images representative of the work that will be brought for hands-on review and a statement outlining the applicant’s craft background, education, specialized techniques, and studio setup.

Jury sessions are limited to 14 applicants per day to allow for a thorough review by a select jury of Master Artisans. Applications are reviewed by the Standards Committee and scheduling is done based on the date of receipt of the application, the completeness of the application, and review of the information received. Applicants will be notified of their scheduled Master Artisan Jury Session date and time as soon as possible.

The non-refundable application fee is $55. In the event an applicant is not approved for Master Artisan status, he or she may reapply within two years of first application at the reduced application rate of $25.

Benefits of Master Artisan Status
  • Recognition and acknowledgment that the artisan has achieved a level of exceptional ability and has produced work of true excellence.
  • Special consideration for participation in PGC exhibitions.
  • Eligibility to win awards presented at PGC Fine Craft Fairs.
  • Priority image use on PGC marketing and advertising materials.
  • Featured profile page on PGC website’s membership directory.
  • Show selection scoring bonus for PGC Fine Craft Fairs.
  • Eligibility for “Monday Meet the Master Artisan” on PGC’s social media.

Only craftsmen members in good standing may apply to be a Master Artisan. If you are a craftsman member and you would like to apply but cannot see an available session below, please click here to login to the site and return to this page to apply for a Master Artisan jury session!

Presentation & Visual Review

Members whose applications have been accepted will, on the day of their scheduled jury session, bring 4 to 6 works that exemplify the Three Benchmarks for review by a jury of Master Artisans selected by the Standards Committee. The pieces brought for the jury should reflect the member’s body of work.

After arranging their works for review, each applicant will have three minutes to talk with jurors about his or her work by answering these questions:

  • How long have you worked in your chosen medium?
  • What do you find most compelling about your medium?
  • What do you hope to convey with your work – what is your voice?

After the verbal presentations, the applicants will leave the jury area and the Master Artisan jurors will examine and review each applicant’s work to determine whether it successfully meets the Three Benchmarks.

Decisions are made by the jury based on all the information presented on the day of the jury session and on the Master Artisan application and accompanying documents.

A primary goal of the jury is to provide useful information about the artisans’ work, as the Master Artisan jury process is always about raising the level of our work, so after decisions have been rendered, each applicant, whether successful or unsuccessful, will be met by a juror or jurors who will speak with them individually about the rationale for the jury’s decision. Master Artisan certificates will be mailed to successful candidates within 4 weeks of the session.

One presentation is included in the cost of the application. Members who wish to return for a second session, within two years, may apply at a reduced re-jury fee of $25.00.

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 Representation (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.. 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, color and 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 most importantly 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 feature your technical mastery of your medium. Excellence in Craftsmanship, Resolved Design and Unique Voice/Faithful Representation. 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
  • Consumables
  • 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

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

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

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 Representation indicates 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.

The Three Jury Processes

There are three separate and distinct types of jurying done by our Standards Committee:

  • Master Artisan Status Jurying
  • Fine Craft Fair Exhibitor Selection Jurying
  • Fine Craft Fair Floor Jurying
Master Artisan Status

Master Artisan Status jurying is the process by which member craftsmen may be awarded this high honor among our ranks. Master Artisans of the PGC receive special consideration in show acceptance, have their works sought out for PGC publicity, and are recognized among their peers as being the best of the best. The jury process is driven by the Three Benchmarks and the ultimate goal of the jury is to provide the applicant, successful or not, with well-reasoned valuable feedback as respects the artisan’s work.

Fine Craft Fair Exhibitor Selection Jurying

Fine Craft Fair Exhibitor Selection Jurying is the process by which applicants to our Fine Craft Fairs are selected as exhibitors. There are always more applicants than there are spaces at our Fine Craft Fairs and the Selection Jury’s job is to review every submission and to choose the best of the best for the Fine Craft Fair. The jury may review well over 1,500 images in the Jury Session. Applicants are scored on their submission images and other information gleaned from their applications. Master Artisans are awarded an extra point in the scoring.

Floor Jurying

Floor Jurying is the process by which the PGC assures exhibitors and patrons alike of the best possible Fine Craft Fair experience. A group of Master Artisans, coordinated by the Standards Vice President, visits each exhibitor’s booth during the Fine Craft Fair to verify that the work complies with that submitted in the application; the artisan of record is, in fact, present in the booth; and, for Master Artisans, which exhibitors will be awarded the Three Benchmark Awards.

Master Artisan FAQ

I am Chapter Juried, does that mean I am a Master Artisan?
No. Each chapter defines its own process and criteria for chapter jurying. Going through the process at the chapter level may be good practice for applying at the PGC level, but does not confer PGC Master Artisan status.
Do I have to be Chapter Juried to apply for Master Artisan status?
No. Going through a chapter jury may help prepare you for the Master Artisan jury, but is not necessary.
What work should I bring to the Master Artisan jury?
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 feature your technical mastery of your medium. Excellence in Craftsmanship, Resolved Design and Unique Voice/Faithful Representation. That’s what you aim to demonstrate with the collection you bring.   Do NOT bring:
  • Works created from commercially available kits and patterns
  • (Non-traditional) work that is directly derived from the work of others
  • Consumables
  • Assemblages of found or manufactured items unless it is evident the maker has significantly altered raw materials.
  • Works consisting of primarily commercially produced elements without significant alteration of those elements.
You mention “body of work.” What is that and why is it important to the Master Artisan jury?
A body of work is a cohesive series of pieces that share consistent design elements. Making deliberate choices of what to show demonstrates to the jury that you have mastery and expertise in a given style, subject matter or medium. This illustrates your vision, your voice and focuses attention on what makes your work “yours.”
I understand that the jurors are all Master Artisans, but will one of them be experienced in my medium?
The Standards Committee is made up of Master Artisans with a variety of backgrounds and craft experience. If none of them have expertise in your medium we make sure to invite a Master Artisan with the appropriate experience to participate in the jury.
I work in multiple mediums. Do I have to apply for Master Artisan status in each one separately?
Master Artisan status is granted for the medium that is juried. If you wish to achieve Master Artisan status in multiple mediums you must apply separately for each one.
When does my Master Artisan status expire?
Master Artisan status is conveyed for the life of the successful candidate’s PGC membership. If, for some reason, the Master Artisan’s membership lapses, reinstatement processes are defined in the PGC’s Policies and Procedures manual. Please be aware that Master Artisans need to pay their dues back to their last expiration date if expired less than 12 months to retain their status, and should call the office. After 12 months post-expiration, they must reapply.
Do I have to be a Master Artisan to participate in PA Guild Fine Craft Fairs?
No. You must be a member of the PA Guild of Craftsmen to participate in the Fine Craft Fairs, but not a Master Artisan.
I’ve heard that Master Artisans are floor juried at the Fine Craft Fairs, but others aren’t. Why is this?
  • All participants at a Fine Craft Fair are floor juried to ensure quality and consistency in the show.
  • Master Artisans are eligible for the Benchmark Awards. The floor jury determines these winners.
I would like to apply for Master Artisan status, but I live far away from Lancaster, where the Master Artisan juries are held. Can I still apply?
Yes! You can send your items to the Guild for review by the jury and we can schedule an online session for the in-person discussion.