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Exhibiting over Christmas, and looking to the future

I've just started unpacking all my work from Made by Hand, and what a great fair it was! It was so nice to see so many talented makers, and returning customers! This was my fifth year exhibiting at the fair, and I thought it was a good time to reflect on my goals and aims for the next few months after the Christmas rush. Here's my stand display below and demonstrating in the fair booklet:

I feel that August comes around so quickly each year, whereby the rush for Christmas starts for every maker. Each piece takes a while to dry, then there’s the two firing processes, so logistically August is when I try to start making my Christmas stock. This sounds a bit mad, as the Summer isn’t even over at this time, but due to not wanting to rush myself and start panicking, August seems to work for me!

I’ve decided that by writing this post, it might encourage me to create new work and get making again in January. It can be difficult as a slip-caster working with moulds. The most creative part of the making is taken away from you, due to having the mould in the first place. The initial making process is the most exciting, where your ideas, sketches and influences come together to create a new piece of work. You can feel a bit like a machine, or a factory whilst making work with my moulds that you already have.

My plan is to start looking at new ideas in January, once the Christmas rush is over. The Minimus Maximus collection has been the collection I've been working on since graduating in 2012. I’ve been looking into making some different pieces but wasn’t sure how they would sit alongside the other collection. Starting something new can be daunting, but I love the sketching process, and it is exciting working through new ideas, and figuring how the moulds will work. There's also the logistics of continuing the previous Collection of work, which I haven't quite worked out yet...

In the New Year I'm also keen to learn more about using Photoshop and Illustrator. Having this skill base would be useful in order to edit and improve photos and design banners etc. There are some amazing free tools out there to learn new skills, and this is definitely something I should invest my time in during the evenings. Once I have these skills I can use them to my advantage with marketing and comms within my business.

Since leaving University, I feel that the emphasis has very slowly moved from new ideas to having enough stock, which has meant that without realising I’m generally less creative. My hopes in the next year is that I can create new work, that can be updated on my shop website every month or so. I feel that updating my shop and building a hype around this could help with selling more work in less busy periods of the year.

My hopes are to also be more vocal on Instagram, and use this to my advantage. By using Instagram to promote my work, I need to make sure that I’m posting new and exciting images that have a variety of pieces, styles and angles of my work, so that creating that hype around a shop update can really happen.

During our time in University, we were encouraged to keep a journal, which could help with smoothing out logistics, somewhere to get some ideas down, and a way to vent if things weren’t working out. These journals that I was writing has now changed into a book of lists and things to do. These can be handy for packing for fairs, or having an idea and timeline of which pieces to make and when, but I hope to use my blog as a way to journal my creative journey from making to selling. This will help with having more time to reflect on my making, and consider all options when trying new techniques and ideas.

I work four days a week, which does mean that ideas get pushed to the back-burner, but I do also want to try and visit a gallery or museum once a month. This can help with making sure that inspiration continues to flow, and that ideas don't start to stagnate whilst waiting for my next few days off work.

I enjoy making, and miss being creative and making pieces from scratch. I’m keen to start looking into lino printing, and getting some sketches designed into prints. I love sketching and drawing and think that this could be a great way to start making something a bit different, that could also be sold as part of my collection.

I think as an artist there are so many things that you can think about and want to concentrate on, whether that being marketing, photography, online presence, stock, funding, stockists and the list goes on. I feel that understanding some of the points in this post above will mean that I can concentrate more on adapting and working on my overall business ideas. I'm really excited to see what next year has in store for my work, and am looking forward to creating new ceramic pieces.

Just to let you know that the final day for ordering from my online shop is Wednesday the 12th of December, so if you want to buy any gifts for friends and family, please do so before this date.

Thanks for reading, and if I don't write again before Christmas, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas!

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