So here we are. The end of my first week blogging in 2014 and the end of the advice from the experts we've been hearing from all week. Hopefully some of the advice has rung true for you, or given you something useful to reflect on.
Of course there will be more advice in 2014, about being a designer, running a business and surviving the stresses and strains of making it by yourself, but I do hope you've enjoyed this weeks little indulgence.
Onwards to the final instalment...
Amanda Peach - Craft Officer and Buyer at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park Shop:
(On the best way to approach buyers)
By email with a realistic expectation of a response time; do your research and find out who to address your enquiry to. Include a covering letter together with at least 3 high print quality images, a price list and CV. I aim to respond to enquiries within 90 days.
Emily Barker - Owner of Ink & Thread:
(On approaching buyers)
Email is the best bet, please don’t just arrive at your favourite shop with a bag of your products, it puts shop keepers on the spot and we haven’t always got time to see people there and then (hopefully we will be far too busy)
Put together a clear email or letter and if possible don’t make it too obvious it’s a generic one you send to everybody; it does need to include key pieces of information but try and make it personal.
The Indie Retail Academy has some great tips on how to approach shops http://www.indieretailacademy.com
Stay a beginner. Invest in a good online portfolio.
I would advise any aspiring designer to tell 'their' story instead of following the obvious trends, it will always be more interesting in the long run.
(On finding your own style)
Most of my students take a fine art route and it is simply down to hard work, lots of experimentation, reading and gallery visits. It is hard to find ‘your thing’ and we cannot do it for them but the ones who put in the hours tend to get there. I do believe that you should not try to be like somebody else (peers or artists) as this can be frustrating and soul-destroying – if you go with what you really enjoy that enjoyment usually shines through. Also, they should try and find out the context for their work – are they a fine artist, illustrator or pattern designer and then use the internet to promote themselves!
Miriam from Mintprint:
You need deep pockets and rubber gloves!
Network, as you can never have too many contacts, and use the social media for your advantage to get your work out there.
Research! – be that by visiting the shows or exhibitions you plan to take part in, trends, your customer, what’s already on the market, costings – you need to have a really clear idea of everything.
Planning – setting deadlines by booking an event can be nerve-wracking but also very motivating!
Identity – knowing yourself, your style and your customer/client is important to maintain integrity and develop your brand.
Commercial viability – may feel like it’s stifling creativity, but it’s also necessary to recognize what is feasible.
Recognize your strengths & weaknesses! – join networks to get advice and support, and if need be get help with important aspects of your business, for example photography. Good photos are vital, I don’t have those skills, so prefer to enlist the help of a professional!
It’s not easy! – I’ve learnt patience and perseverance!