I recently attended an event up in Newburgh entitled ‘Selling your work, not your soul’ organised by Applied Arts Scotland and Fife Cultural Trust. It was aimed at applied artists and designers living and working in Fife that are either just beginning and considering ways of selling work or more established makers considering new ways of selling including trade fairs and retail outlets. I consider myself an established maker, but due to taking a whole year off on maternity leave I feel like I’m starting again on the selling/promotion front and so thought it’d be a really interesting event – I wasn’t wrong!
It took place at the Big Cat Textiles studio that is run by Jeanette Sendler who was one of the speakers. I’d never been there before and was really pleasantly suprised by the place.
The event proposed to offer practical tips on making selling your work painless and enjoyable – so I was hooked straight away and determined to attend. We heard from 3 different speakers that all offered an insight into their working practice including how they market themselves, sell their work and to whom.
The three speakers were:
Louise Trow – the Creative Economy Development Officer at the Fife Cultural Trust who’s role is to create a culture of enterprise in Fife for the Creative and Cultural Industries. She is currently developing a strategy for the sector in Fife and manages the Create in Fife network.
Kirsty Thomas – illustrator, printmaker and occasional shopkeeper. Her studio, Lovely Pigeon, produces hand-crafted jewellery, paper products and printed homewares which are stocked by some of the world’s best design retailers.
Inge Panneels – contemporary glass artist who runs Idagos Glass Studio, working to commission to produce architectural and sculptural pieces as well as small batch glassware jewellery and plates. Inge is also the Chair of Applied Arts Scotland and talked about the organisations role in supporting the professional development of makers.
It was great to hear how these folk started out, developed their businesses, changed their business along the way to suit the market and also their customers etc. Each speaker had different info to offer and I got loads of ideas for Milomade.
I’ve found it a real struggle lately to get back into work as my time is so limited and I’ve often gone to bed at night feeling really depressed and wanting to just shut Milomade down and forget all about it. But I always wake up the following morning determined to find a way to make things work. In an ideal world I’d love to be doing Milomade full time and I hope that in the not so distant future, this will become a reality. At the moment I can only work 1 day a week and this time has to be devoted to my web design business and so Milomade has been put on the back burner for the time being. I don’t have the time to do R&D and experiment and develop collections and try out ideas etc. I just have the time to complete the occassional order and try and deal with the frustration of all the ideas and things I want to do but don’t have the time to do.
I drove home from the event mostly elated, but also deflated. In order to get going with Milomade again I’d need to devote all my available work time to move things forward and I can’t afford to do this right now. The talk made me realise that I’m more than a little lost with regards to the direction I want to take and also made me realise that I need help in figuring out what Milomade is all about and how to move forward. I think hiring a mentor would be really beneficial at this stage, but again the financial implications of this get in the way.
So I got in touch with a few people by email to ask for help and advice and while I was ill last week I did a lot of thinking and have already decided on quite a few changes I want to make with regards to Milomade and the direction I want to take.I’ve yet to follow up these email conversations and hope to do that this week, so that I can start on this exciting journey of discovery. I just need to keep moving forward with these ideas and get some external help to hone things in a bit more and streamline and cull until I have a clear miussion in mind.
Apologies for being vague, but these changes will happen over time and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a clearer picture of Milomade and the way I want to move forward.