The Western Design Conference, a Jackson Hole legacy for nearly three decades now, is changing things up for an era of pandemic.
It’s going virtual – and offering every artist who’s participated over the past 28 years the opportunity to showcase his or her work in a digital sourcebook.
It opens on Sept. 10, and will run nearly a full year – all the way until the 2021 conference opens for a three-day show from Sept. 9-12.
“It’s always different every year, usually with new lines from the artists,” says Allison Merritt, executive director of the show. “But this year, it’s kind of a retrospective with the sourcebook showing what they’re doing and what’s available.”
Obviously, there are no booth fees this year. Instead, artists will pay a nominal exhibition fee of $500. “We’ve had a huge response already,” she says. “There will be at least 100 artists participating, and maybe more.”
Each artisan will display one to six images, and all will be interactive. Interested parties can go to the artists’ Instagram or Facebook site, or email the images to friends.
“It’s a resource guide that can be used throughout the year,” she says. “If there’s something you want to buy, you connect directly to the artist – and there are buttons to purchase or inquire.”
And, while 5,000 usually attend the conference in person, this year Merritt will promote it through her database of 120,000 people. But more will likely shop it.
“That’s just those who follow us or have signed up for newsletter or are our media partners,” she says. “It’s an endless number.”
By inviting artists from past shows, she’s assuring that the conference standards are still high. “I thought that if we can’t do a full conference, with the fashion show, the food, the five bars, and the $20,000 in awards, then we should do the sourcebook,” she says.
That makes it a win for the artists, the collectors – and the conference.
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