Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Making a Living from Art is Tough: Why I Support the Just a Card Campaign

Just a Card is a fantastic campaign which was started by Sarah Hamilton after she read this sad statement from an independent gallery owner,

“If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”

This is something which will resonate with all of my artist friends, particularly during the quieter summer months.

Unfortunately, due to the current economic climate, it's increasingly difficult for artists to be able to make a decent living from their work. Gallery and shop owners, as well as event organisers are suffering the same effects. When I attended BCTF earlier in the year, many participants commented on how much quieter the show was than in previous years. My very favourite show- Art in Action had its final event this summer after 40 wonderful years and I've just read that Treefest at Westonbirt Arboretum will also be finishing this year after 25 years due to falling visitor numbers. The Arter in Stratford (a wonderful supporter of the Smiths) was also forced to close earlier this year.

Making for a living is such a rewarding job but it's not an easy one. Taking part in art markets and larger shows can cost anything from £50 for a single day into the multiple hundreds and even thousands. That's before taking into account buying in enough stock, travel costs, promotional materials, packaging, display materials and even accommodation for artists travelling further afield.

During h.Art, I always like to bake a cake and offer it to our visitors free of charge. I'm always a little disheartened by the number of people who arrive, help themselves, even send me off to make them a cup of tea, stay for half an hour or more wanting to know all about how we make our work, insisting on a tour of the farm animals and then leave when just a single card could help us cover the cost of their visit. We even had a man say goodbye, get into his car and then run out to grab a handful of cake to take away with him- in my best Miranda voice, "Rude!".Thankfully, these visitors are outnumbered but not by as much as you'd think.

I've seen the same happen both with myself and other makers at art markets. You'll have a lovely visitor who wants to learn everything about your work and doesn't stop telling you how beautiful it is, how clever you are and how much they are absolutely in love with it. They usually even come back for a second visit. If this is you, why not consider buying just a card, or small product, from the maker? It will have their website on so you can look up more of their work when you go home- you won't forget about them and will have helped them cover the cost of their pitch that day and, fingers crossed, tip them into earning a wage for their work. Every purchase is much appreciated.

According to Sarah Hamilton's research, the buying public often said they were embarrassed to make a small purchase, fearing that it appeared mean. I, and so many other maker friends, have had so many markets where this small purchase from all of the people who loved our work would have totally transformed our day. I'm not talking about the people who have a quick look and walk by but the ones who are genuinely interested in what they are looking at and comment on how much they either like or love it.

Of course, not everyone has bags and bags of cash to splash around. Why not just choose your top few makers at a market, or even just one, and make a small purchase from them so that they are able to return to subsequent events? 

I do practise what I preach here, and have a drawer full of artists' cards recently purchased from from Aquarius, Iapetus, Catherine Hyde, Jane E Hall and Nicola Taylor. I keep some for myself and put them on display, always have a stash for birthdays and thank you cards, and even stick them into my diary and use them to write checklists.

Just a few from my card collection. Work by Sally Anne Lambert, Catherine Hyde, Jemima Jameson,
Stephanie Cole, Angela Jayne Latham & Jane E Hall 

 Just a Card is supported by the magazine Mollie Makes as well as The Design Trust (a fantastic resource for any artist). You can find out more by reading the flyer below which will be proudly on display at our open studio during h.Art.

Friday, 5 August 2016

My Final Fox Design

Earlier in the year, I created this new piece of work entitled 'Mr Fox'. Foxes are very much out of favour with me at the moment after losing my beautiful cat Mia to one a few months ago. Unfortunately, I don't see myself painting any more for the foreseeable future but 'Mr Fox' was already finished and in my batch of recent work to be scanned and made into prints.

There are folk tales across Britain of a cunning foxy gentleman who tricks a young lady into agreeing to marry him with his elegance and fine manners. Little does the lady know that Mr Fox is planning to murder her. Foxes often represent male predators hunting female prey in these stories. Thankfully in most of the tales the lady is more cunning than sly Mr Fox.

This picture is now available as a greeting card and print and is the second fox in my collection along with 'The Kirtlington Vixen'.

In British folklore witches were rumoured to be able to turn themselves into foxes, amongst other creatures.

According to the story, there was once a vixen in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire which no huntsmen were ever able to catch. Once day they finally tracked her down with their hounds and chased her for many miles. They thought they had her trapped when she ran inside a small cottage. By the time they reached the cottage, the only living thing they found inside was an old woman, slightly out of breath.

Please visit my Etsy shop or get in touch to order any foxy related products from me. I always have them with me at art markets too. The next one will be the Teme Valley Market at The Talbot at Knightwick on Sunday 14th August.