8th January 2019
I survived the markets! Phew. Not just survived but enjoyed and thrived. Hereford Christmas Market went really well for me (thank goodness) and I met lots of interesting and engaging people. I’ve discovered that I really quite enjoy selling my work through markets as it’s sociable and it’s good meeting my customers face to face. It’s also a great way to get feedback on my products and has given me ideas on how to keep improving. I’ll be attending various markets throughout 2019, most likely in Cheltenham, Cirencester, Hereford and Abergavenny.
Through working at the markets, I was lucky enough to meet Katie and Lee. These two lovelies run The Roastery Coffee House in Quedgeley, Gloucester, an award winning cafe. [The ‘Best Cafe in the South West’ to be precise, awarded by The Food Awards England 2018!] Katie and Lee invited me to display my work at The Roastery and for the last month or so my framed prints have adorned their walls, oh so proudly. My art-style seems to fit perfectly with the vibe of the cafe and the feedback has been wonderful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to sell my work from such a cool place, these guys really know what they’re doing.
I’m determined to stay on the path of sustainability as I continue to grow my business. I want to prove it’s possible to run a successful, profitable business whilst staying environmentally and socially conscious. My aim is to always provide a premium quality product that is both affordable and ethically sourced. I’m so glad I made time to find suppliers who offer the best value for money because it means I can charge less for a superior product, without compromising on quality. Since embarking on this venture, it has surprised me just how many ‘green’ alternatives there are to the standard plastic packaging and how in actual fact, they’re not prohibitively more expensive. It is possible to make these positive changes without breaking the bank.
My next step is to upgrade my website and start selling online. This will be happening as soon as I’ve sorted a reliable and affordable packaging supplier, to enable me to post my artwork to customers. I’m excited for the year to come and looking forward to producing new work. Bring on 2019!
28th November 2018
A few days ago, I completed my first ever market stall-holder experience. I had a wooden cabin stall at the Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market for 11 days and I’m very happy to say that it was a very encouraging experience. The feedback I received about my work was overwhelmingly positive, I sold lots of work and I met so many lovely people.
As a first timer, I was anxious about what the market may hold in store for me. I didn’t really know what to expect or what the reception from the public might be. So I’m incredibly relieved and happy that most people seem to love my work. Many of my pieces elicited smiles and laughter from strangers, which is exactly the reaction I love the most. I enjoy making connections with people through my artwork and if one of my pieces moves somebody emotionally in some way, I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to accomplish.
I’ve certainly learned a lot about framing since this first venture. I’ve learned what to do and more importantly, what not to do. I did rather underestimate the effect that the weather conditions may have on my prints. It was a very cold few weeks and I suppose being situated at the historic Gloucester Docks meant there was added moisture in the air. If you bought one of my prints (in particular the large prints) and you’re disappointed (because it has warped or moved) then please get in touch with me directly and I’ll replace it. The last thing I want is for anyone to be disappointed.
Thank you to everyone who bought my work, came to visit me at the stall or who has generally encouraged me in some way. I appreciate your support. I feel like I’m on the right path now and I’m excited to create new work. I’ve got lots of ideas which I can’t wait to get down onto paper. Watch this space!
I’ve recently made the leap from full time employee to self-employed artist. Good move? I have yet to find out. Ask me in again in a few months after the Christmas Markets. Since I left my job, I’ve felt a combination of excitement, stress, enjoyment, anxiety, fulfilment, anxiety, worry, motivation, anticipation, anxiety, hope and so on and so forth. Whether these feelings have somehow morphed into a worthwhile and profitable product is yet to be tested. I’ve sold lots of my artworks over the years so I know there’s a market out there somewhere! I just hope we find one another.
I’m trying hard to be environmentally conscious and to reduce the negative impact my business has on the world’s ecosystem. I’ve chosen to use plant based plastic for my greeting cards so that instead of it being thrown away and ending up in landfill, it can be composted to break down into CO2, water and biomass. I’m using recycled card for the greeting cards, the majority of my frames are made in the UK and all my printing is sourced from local companies. The packing for protecting my products is mostly paper based (as much as possible) and I’m using paper bags instead of plastic bags. It’s a continual process of improvement but its small steps in the right direction.
Throughout my adolescent & adult life, I’ve held myself back time after time. Instead of pushing myself forward, I’d try my best to avoid attention. I felt so crippled by self doubt and fear of rejection that I found the majority of social situations excruciating. The dread of judgment and of not being accepted or liked was overwhelming and even to this day still plagues me on the odd occasion. It’s a hard feeling to shake off. I was that awkward kid who didn’t know what to say and would only participate in class if forced to. I found the concept of conversation between strangers utterly perplexing; I just couldn’t understand how people knew how to interact with each other. How did people spontaneously make conversation so easily? How did they know what to say? My mind would go blank if put on the spot and eventually I became convinced that my opinion didn’t matter, therefore there was no point sharing it. I managed to muddle my way through, managing on the most part not to get noticed by any mean-spirited person who might expose my insecurities. Thankfully I’ve come a long way in the last 5-7 years and I’m far happier in my own skin than I’ve ever been. I’ve accepted who I am and discovered that I’m OK.
I’m only writing this because I feel it’s important to share our experiences. It’s so easy to present ourselves as totally together, confident, cool-as-cucumber adults when in actual fact that’s just a facade. Our actual lives are more complex, more nuanced and complicated than we care to admit. I’m also sharing this as a form of catharsis. A way to try and shake off the old me, the negative part of myself that puts me down, tells me I can’t do things. Time will tell whether this new venture is viable or not but at least I’m giving it a go. That in itself feels pretty good, the feeling of being proactive.
Having given it a lot of thought, I can see I really have nothing to lose by giving this art malarkey a decent shot. I find it utterly terrifying, putting myself out there in this way but I can’t be controlled by fear forever. My pride may get dented if it fails and I may end up taking a while to pay back the loan I took out but to hell with it! I’ve been putting this off for a long time so it’s about time I give it a shot. Apparently it’s good to get out of our comfort zones…my comfort zone is so far gone now I can barely see it anymore. I’ve always loved creating since I was knee high to a woodlouse, so if I can figure out a way to make it work as a career I’ll be happier than a Retriever in a river.
I’ve never really written a blog post before, but reckoned that the first one should probably just give a little context about my work and me. The word ‘artist’ makes me squirm a little whenever I mention it in relation to myself but I can’t think of a better word for what I’m doing! When I say ‘painter’ people usually think painter/decorator and I like ‘creative’ even less than artist, so I’m just going to give artist a try for now.
I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s about time that I finally do something about my career situation. I’ve never really had a career as such or ever felt particularly career driven, but I did [naively] imagine that graduate opportunities would open up to me and a good job would be within relatively easy grabs after Uni. (I didn’t study art although upon reflection I’m not really sure why as it was always my favourite subject.) But as with so many other graduates, the offer of a super-duper Graduate Scheme never materialised and actually finding fulfilling paid work is really bloody hard! So, since graduating in 2009 I’ve really just bounced from job to job, both here in the UK and in New Zealand. I’ve been putting off doing anything with my artwork for years now, always finding excuses why I can’t do it yet; I don’t have enough work to sell, the next one will be better, the work’s not good enough, I don’t have the time or money to invest, blah blah blah. I’ve dipped my toe into the world of becoming an artist and it actually went pretty well. I developed a stylised way of painting; ‘simplified definition’ is one way to describe it I guess. I used to paint in a more tradition style but I prefer my other style, it’s more fun. I’ve sold paintings through galleries, been commissioned for many pieces and designed a couple of logos for friends’ businesses, but I’ve never devoted all my efforts to it. It’s only ever really been a side line. But what I’ve realised recently is that I don’t want to die without having ever properly given it a go. Forgive the cliché, but life is short and life as we know it can change in an instant, so I’d better make the most of it now. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out but at least I would’ve tried. I’ve really got nothing to lose now, so I may as well have a go and see what happens 😉
Art is totally subjective and so I understand that a piece of work that I enjoy you may think is lame and vice versa. That’s the beauty of art! However, if you do like my work enough to want to commission me to paint something for you or if you’d like to buy a print/card of one of my images, please do give me a shout. I’m still in the process of sorting everything out and putting plans together but I’d be delighted to hear from you if you have any queries or just want to make contact. I’m taking orders for Christmas so get in quick if you’re keen.
I’m working on a new series right now, called Simon P. I’m painting from a photo that my boyfriend, Iwan, took of our favourite local pheasant in the garden, who we’ve subsequently called Simon (of course). The expression on his face in the photo cracks me up every time, so I’m really enjoying playing around with it. Images to follow!
My old boys…
Simon…he’s a funny bird!