I've spent the past few days recovering from exhibiting at the British Craft Trade Fair, between 8-10 April in Harrogate. It was a great experience - yet very tiring being on your feet for 3 solid days!
The first thing I should say is a big thankyou to my mum for driving me there, helping with set-up and take-down and being on hand to fetch me cups of tea and huge slices of cake all the way through!
It was very daunting getting there and seeing a completely empty space with my name above it - but seeing as I'd sketched out the layout roughly a million times and planned right down to how many hooks I needed it was quite easy to put it all up.
One thing about BCTF is you're not allowed to use nails or anything on the walls, so I strategically planned everything on my stand to hand from string tied to S hooks clipped over the top of the walls. I also wanted to go for a natural, simplistic look as my actual products are very busy and patterned. So, I just used bulldog clips for the cards, dowel rods for the wrapping paper, and a long wire basket instead of a shelf for the packaged tea towels and tote bags.
Once the set-up day was over, the fair was open for three days. It was a fantastic experience, I talked to so many talented people and learned so much. Everyone was friendly and happy to share their experiences and advice, which was great for me as this was my first trade fair. I also met quite a few buyers interested in possibly stocking my work, so watch this space!
Next event I'll be doing is my degree show to mark the end of my illustration course at Edinburgh College of Art - I'll be an expert in how to display things after this!
Collaborations can be fun! The word makes me shudder at the thought of group projects at uni, but think of it instead as working with another creative to pool your strengths, and make something much better than you could make alone.
I've wanted to make some handmade pieces using my patterns on fabric for a while, and I'm ok on a sewing machine - but I've got nothing on an amazing costume artist Sarah Hardwick. We first met at sixth form and since then she's gone on to do many amazing projects, even working behind the scenes on Strictly Come Dancing! So when she got in touch about a collaboration I was excited to see what we'd come up with.
My oranges design has been one of my favourites I've designed lately, and it really catches the eye! We decided to make zip pouches /pencil cases /cosmetic bags (whatever you call them!) I ordered some digitally printed fabric and sent it off to Sarah for the sewing, and she got cracking as soon as it arrived.
She kept me updated with photos of her process along the way, and it was so exciting to see my designs slowly turning into something 3D! She has a real eye for detail and every part of the making was done to such a high standard.
We chose lovely quality metal zips and black lining, and even added branding labels! Once they were finished they were posted to me for the final steps, photographing and listing them for sale in my Etsy shop.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with photographing my own products, I do enjoy it, but it can be difficult especially in winter when there's not much natural light. I use some big white mount boards in a light corner of the studio at uni and the photos usually come out alright!
We made a limited edition of 10 bags (11 if you count the one I kept!) and there were two sizes, small and large. I put them up for sale in my Etsy shop and they sold out within 3 days! We were so pleased with the response and we're thinking about making some more over the summer. They'd be limited edition again, but this time using a different one of my patterns - which would you like to see on the next ones?
The Red Door Gallery is one of Edinburgh's best arty shops and I've enjoyed visiting it many a time since coming here to study at ECA. So when we got set a project at uni by the curator of the gallery, Nicky Brooks, to do a collective window display and sell our work I was so excited! After collecting all the prints from our classmates we started off preparing the space. I did the lettering and illustrations in the window - whilst the others froze outside making sure everything was in the right place!
The following day we were back early to get framing all the work which seemed to take forever, but the work looked so professional in the clean white frames. We were worried because our illustration styles are all so different that they might not have looked right, but once we started putting them up they just worked! Bunting we made also helped to bring out the main colours and tie the artwork together.
We added a chair and a plinth to add some different levels and thought about what placement would catch your eye from all angles. I was pleased to have my oranges tea towel draped over the chair to really show off the pattern! Overall I think it looks great and I'm really proud of everyone who contributed a piece, and especially those who helped with setting up the display. It'll be up for a few weeks so if you're in Edinburgh check it out! (or look at their online shop, www.edinburghart.com )