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How to survive (and thrive) at your first craft fair by MrPrintGarage

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I’ve seen a few blogs recently detailing the trials and tribulations of new makers entering the world of selling at craft fairs. Craft Fairs can be wonderful experiences, great for sales, building an audience and making contacts and dare I say it friends with other makers. They can also be daunting, gruelling nightmare. I’ve been around a bit and done a few craft fairs in my time and I thought I’d share a few nuggets of information that might make your life a tiny bit easier.

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Research
So you’re thinking of doing a craft fair – but which one? There’s so many, and how do I know if it’s going to be any good or not.

Do you know anyone who’s done that particular fair – if not it might be worth approaching a more established maker for a bit of advice, some makers actually offer mentoring service – booking in an hour or two with such a person might be money well invested. Do I know anyone? hmmm one or two…

Is there a website? Can you see example of previous exhibitors? Ask yourself honestly – “is my work a good fit?”

One good idea is to actually visit the fair and apply the next year if you like the look of it. Play the long game.

Personal invites – it’s always exciting when I get emails from people telling me how much they like my work – and then they usually go on to say – “would you like to exhibit at such and such a show? We had over 10 squillion visitors last year, this year it’s going to be even more A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!” Yes, yes, I know the email is personally addressed to you, but, here comes the hard bit so I hope you’re sitting comfortably – they haven’t stared longingly at all the beautiful things on your website. They’ve probably got your details from the catalogue from New Designers or your college’s degree show catalogue or wherever. They’ve then roped in a family member/paid someone to fill in the details of a mass email to lots more makers. Don’t be flattered, it’s a standard process – lovebombing as many artists and makers to apply so they have a high quality to choose from.

Costs
So you’ve applied, paid the admin fee (Yes, there’s usually an admin fee to apply to shows, someone has to sit and upload all those lovely images and jotform costs money as well) and you’ve been accepted. Brilliant – now you’ve got to pay the deposit (do it now – don’t be one of those people who the organisers have to chase, it annoys them some what.)

When you applied, you will have stated stand size and normally somewhere in that process you have to tick boxes and order any of the extra things you might need. Like a table or a plug socket, or even the wifi code. The basic rule of thumb when looking at the cost of doing a show is:

ASSUME NOTHING IS INCLUDED!

The stand cost usually (but not always) buys you 3 white walls, 2 spot lights, a fascia sign on with your business name on and a listing in the catalogue. Everything else you either bring with you or pay for. I’ve seen some complaints recently about “hidden costs” – most reputable shows are upfront about this at the stage of applying. So why not just add that onto the main fee upfront – well not everyone wants or needs a plug socket – so why should everyone shoulder the costs? Paying for Wifi is a new one on me (in my day people paid for products with cheques or simple bartering systems) but broadband doesn’t come for free so assume that shows will pass on the cost of this to you. If there’s 4G or even 3G your card machine/izettle thing should work fine.

Of course there’s the possibility of profiteering going on – but back at the research stage it might be worth looking at who is behind the show – are they doing this because they know about and love craft or are they building their own brand?

The bigger fairs can be very expensive and so there’s usually plenty of more affordable options available. Another rule of thumb that generally holds up – “You get what you pay for” That £10 for a table in a pub garden sounds like a bargain in comparison to many shows, but who is going to come and of those people who do, how many are prepared to shell out on expensive craft?

If nothing else though – these can be good practice, working on your customer relations skills or just people watching, seeing how they look at things on your space etc.

I love it when a plan comes together.
You will no doubt be getting lots of email reminders about various things – marketing, advertising or booking on to the aftershow social thing (do – these are usually good fun and a great way of making friends in the craft world, and some of them you get to see the organisers doing things like celidh dancing or just sat in a corner, rocking back and forth and muttering to themselves).

More importantly one of those emails will contain an Exhibitor Manual, which brings us on to two of the most important rules of doing a craft fair:

  1. READ YOUR EXHIBITOR MANUAL!

  2. READ YOUR EXHIBITOR MANUAL!

See, what happens is the organisers (the good ones) put ALL of the useful information in one handy document for you to read – set up times, break down times, show times, lanyards, etc etc. They’ve done this because they are busy and they are keen to avoid the pain of answering the same questions over and over and over again. So before you email them to ask something, just check because it’s most likely in there and it stops your name from going on the s**tlist.

One detail in particular to pay attention to (and this is from personal experience) is the stand plan. Are you on a corner stand? If so then the likely event is that you will only have 2 walls – they like to leave an open eyeline where possible – it will probably say if you want the 3rd wall to ask them before a specific date – this is so the stand builders know where to build walls. I forgot to do this once and had to reorganise where everything thing was going. The upside though is actually people are more likely to come into the space because it feels less claustrophobic and less like a craft dungeon.

Other things to do/check:

  • Hotel – book sooner rather than later, because there’s those other pesky artists filling up the rooms.
  • Parking, where are you going to stash your vehicle for the next three days?

 

Set up day!

Yay it’s the big day and you’ve had a good night’s sleep, a good break fast and now you’re on the road – having routeplanned your journey (adding extra time for pee and pasty breaks on the way) to arrive on time for your drop off slot. Once you’ve unloaded it’s expected that you will have to move your wagon so that others can get in and drop off their equally lovely craft items. Moving your vehicle is another way to stay off the naughty list.

  • Pack the tools you need, having to borrow hammers and drills off other makers generally doesn’t endear you to them. Old hands like me tend to know where you can buy emergency bluetack/gin from…

  • Do you really need to put wallpaper/tie dye sheet up on the wall? There’s nothing wrong with white walls – people need to be able see your work.

  • Don’t leave all your stuff in the gangway, stash it in your space – there are other makers in and out with big boxes and there’s usually electricians and the like running around with ladders fixing things.

  • Photograph your stand – a handy aide memoire for the next time you do the show. (If you’re like me though you might have planned out the design before hand.)

  • How many props do you actually need? Vintage suitcases and old print block trays are very done and when you get annoyed the third time of being asked “Is the suitcase for sale? My mother used to have one of them” imagine how annoying it’s going to be the 300th time you’re asked that question.

  • If something isn’t right, like a plug socket that isn’t there – find someone who’s part of the team, either organiser or technician and ask politely can they sort it. It’s either on the list of things to do or an oversight. They should correct it – no need for tantrums. (I’ve seen this happen, it’s embarrassing when my four year old stamps his feet, it’s quadruply embarrassing watching a 40 something throw a wobbly.)

  • Float. Bring lots of change. Round numbers generally aid cash sales, if you’re selling something for £4.95 then you need to bring a barrow full of 5ps…

  • And have change on you for parking – this is your responsibility not the organisers, you are an adult (unbelievably, I’ve seen people grump at organisers about this).

Curtains up!
This is when the fun really begins (or not). Fairs have changed a bit over the years, well the economic circumstances have changed – prior to the banking collapse in 2008 (caused by the banks and not immigrants and the EU as the Daily Mail would have you believe) I’d been doing fairs with my better half and we couldn’t wrap and bag purchases quickly enough. Doing ‘Origin’ at Somerset House in London, my wife had to organise with her London friends who could come which day to give her a break for 10 minutes so she could have a wee, and in that 10 minute break people still complained that she wasn’t there! These days, people make much more considered purchases. They tend to go and think about it for a bit, or they take a card and maybe buy it online later. I tend to think of fairs now as a 3 day live advert.

All this preamble is to warn you that doing craft fairs might not be as immediately lucrative as you’re expecting. If you’re breaking even (covering all your costs) at your first show, then bloody well done (genuinely no sarcasm here) you deserve a G&T or three. It took me several years of trial and error before I got to that point (partly because what I was making wasn’t very good). Often it can take being at the fairs a couple of times before people will really start to buy – they like to see that you’re worth investing in – people like novelty and new innovations but they also like familiar and reliable things.

After sales can be just as important. So, bring plenty of business cards – don’t be tempted by the multi design thing, people just want to collect all of them (bloody students!).

And even if it’s going badly and the stand across from you is non stop selling it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Sometimes people are coming for something quite specific – try selling a screenprint to someone who’s only interested in jewellery – it ain’t gonna happen. And more to the point, there’s nothing wrong with being niche… Don’t give up, don’t pout and DON’T start lowering your prices – because that just smells of desperation.

  • Don’t pounce with the clipboard, a friendly hello does the job

  • Prices should be easy to see and understand – if they have to ask, they probably won’t…

  • Keep smiling

  • Bring comfy shoes – it’s a long day couple of days.

  • Bring a bottle of water – shows tend to get quite warm.

  • Be considerate to other makers – don’t park your stool in front of my stand (sounds obvious but it does happen).

  • If you’ve brought moral support in the shape of a parent or a partner, send them off to have a look around the show or the city and do a swap with them from time to time. Bored husbands or parents having a picnic in your stand can be a bit off putting. (One task as the moral support that I used to really enjoying was scoping out a pub/restaurant for the evening’s meal).

  • If your having a bad day don’t whine on social media – the craft world is very small, keep it for the pub…

  • At the end of it, whether the show has gone well or not so well – thank the organisers and fill in the feedback forms. They are only human (just about) and need to be loved just like anybody else…

Sometimes the days can go a bit slowly but it’s the perfect opportunity to play Craft Fair Bingo for just £5 available here

The Print Garage will be opening it’s doors to the general public and I’ll be wielding an inky with ninja like dexterity at:

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair  in Manchester
7-9th October (preview evening on the 6th)

and

Made By Hand Wales in Cardiff
28-3oth October

You can also connect with Mr Print Garage over on all the social medias so please do go and follow and click like on things:

https://www.facebook.com/mrprintgarage/

https://twitter.com/mrprintgarage

https://www.instagram.com/iainperry/

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Meet the Maker: Kerry Butterworth

What’s your most interesting item in your studio? 

My sketch book

I spend a lot of my time drawing, painting and sketching. My sketchbook is my diary where I can express my mind.

Who are your craft heroes?

I admire many, however my all time hero is actually a fashion designer, Alexander McQueen.

I love how he used his medium to create wearable pieces of art, the beauty in how he constructs his garments, and how he rebels against the rules of tradition.

Alexander McQueen gallery



What have you got coming up?

Before I started the cultivated programme, I was really eager to run my own workshops, as it has always been something I have been interested in. I love helping people and sharing my passion. As an emerging designer I see it as my duty to give back to the next generation of makers in the hope of keeping craft alive.

I have recently been sketching some ideas, with the help of Jennifer who has really encouraged and supported my ideas. So watch this space.

Have you got a favourite book? What are you reading at the moment?

Whenever I do get the time to read its something dramatic like The Hunger Games, which really gets your blood pumping.

I live through my eyes.

Although reading isn’t at the top of my to do list flicking through Vogue/ Elle magazine is. Its something I love on a personal level, but it is also fed into my practice by storing visual information and being trend aware.

Have you got a favourite film?

I am a crazy Disney fanatic, so any film that’s Disney is already my favourite film. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite but up at the top has to be ‘Tangled’. I love her rebellious behaviour, how far she pushes herself to get her dream, and of course the hair! Who doesn’t want her hair? And who wouldn’t love a friend like pascal?

Where would you most like to see your work exhibited? 

I have always looked at the V & A and I recently had the opportunity to work alongside a senior lecturer Jo Horton. Jo is a electro-chemical textile specialist who asked me to design and make some ‘couture beads’ for her garments which will be exhibited next year at the V & A museum.

So although this has given me a taster of what it could be like, if I am successful this will be one of my long term goals.

Here’s your chance to get on your soapbox – is there anything that makes you angry or frustrated within the world of craft?

I love the world of craft and most importantly  quirky characters you come across within it. However what does sometimes upset me the is when/if people don’t understand or appreciate the value of the work. The time, design and hours spent into making the piece by hand are sometimes underestimated.

Do you ever question what you’re doing?

I constantly question what I am doing and always think ‘am I doing enough’ ‘could I be doing more’ confidence is one of my biggest battles. I find reflection time is what helps me battle through these thoughts, something that Iain Perry (print garage) has demonstrated the importance of.

I reflect by picking out the positives, as opposed to the negatives which I find myself doing a lot of. This could be re thinking all the things I have achieved. Focussing on the good qualities in a piece of work, and being more constructive about the areas I don’t like and looking at how I can improve it.

What’s so special about the materials you use?

I see myself as an artist who has taken the path of a jeweller. This is why my work is so experimental and I able to express myself through the marks of my hammer and the unpredictability of the enamel.

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What you do to take time out and relax?

don’t often relax as i am somewhat of a social butterfly. If I do have some spare time it usually drives me crazy because i am so used to being up and on the go all the time.

However my idea of ‘time out’ is out shopping, socialising and exercising. But most importantly going on walks where my eyes are free to wonder, pulling inspiration from all around me. Which is one that never fails to make me look crazy for being over obsessed by that crumpled up leaf on the floor, or some fungi on a tree.

What’s your greatest achievement so far?

My greatest achievement so far is being recognised by Jennifer and Iain who have taken me on as a graduate for there cultivated programme.

My degree was a very difficult time for me where I was always left feeling unsure on what I was doing. Jennifer and Iain have given me so much confidence within my work and finding my feet to start growing as maker and not be scared to be different.

Links:
facebook
twitter
instagram

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Studio space available!

We will have studio space available at Unit Twelve (http://unittwelve.co.uk) from mid August. Launched in May 2010 Unit Twelve has become a thriving contemporary craft venue in the Midlands, which hosts a gallery, a large workshop space and 6 artists studios, all in a beautiful rural location just a few miles out of Stafford. In this time the space has gained over 25 pieces of national press, including magazines such as Living etc, Embroidery, Mollie Makes and Crafts, to name just a few, as well as several books such as New Artisans and Upcyclist (http://unittwelve.co.uk/press.htm).

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We are looking for makers with a contemporary craft practice who can be in 1 day a week (but you can be in as much as you like….).

 
The studio space is 3.5 x 2m, and is £25 per week (£100 per calendar month). But what we are offering is SOOOO much more than JUST a studio space……
* ALL bills (heating, electric, water, business rates)
* Informal mentoring and business support from Jennifer Collier and the Unit Twelve team.
*Inclusion in Unit Twelve’s advertising and publicity (including a large presence on Facebook and Twitter, inclusion on our website, and the option to write guest blogs for us to promote your practice)
* A vibrant inspiring space full of like minded visitors and makers.
*Other artists to bounce ideas off
*A shopfront, with an established audience, to sell direct to (even on the days you are not there)
*Use of the large workshop space to work in (when there isn’t a workshop on) 
*Access to a small ceramic kiln, print table, and sewing machines.
*AND even tea, coffee and biscuits (and occasionally cake too!)

You can watch a short film which captures the essence and ethos of our beautiful workplace here: https://vimeo.com/95275136  or do just pop in to see the space, for a cuppa and a chat: Open Thur-Sat, 10-4pm.

Space will be available from mid august- if you are interested please email a few images of your work and an artists statement OR a link to your website to jcolliertextiles@yahoo.co.uk

      

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Aimee Bollu: Cultivated Maker

As a new Cultivated graduate that has just joined unit twelve, I wanted to share a bit about me as a maker.

If you don’t already know my work, you can find some images of my graduate collection at www.aimeebollu.co.uk.

So far I have been settling in well…

Inspired by the charm at Unit Twelve:

Unit Twelve wall Unit Twelve

Making a comfortable studio space to work in surrounded by things I have found and other makers work:

the space toffee tin shelfie nesting wall

Collecting objects from the site and making new pieces:

finds new piece

Being part of the Cultivated programme has felt so exciting and rewarding so far, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the time unfolds, and I’ll update you as it does.

Aimee

madebyhandonline presents…

A special guest blog from Katie Honnor – head honcho at madebyhandonline

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Sam Bryan

 

On the 6th March the doors of the Unit Twelve Gallery will open to reveal a selection of work from our Makers in our first ever exhibition ‘madebyhandonline presents…’ We are so excited!

We know the curation of the work will be beautiful – the gallery owners Jennifer and Iain always present work so imaginatively and respectfully. We know which of our Makers will be submitting work and we’ve especially requested some of the pieces, but we don’t know every single piece that will be on show!

To us, this exhibition is about what goes on behind the scenes of our site. It’s about the people making : their iconic pieces, their ideas, the pleasure, the stories – the celebration of contemporary craft from a fantastic collection of Makers. Our Makers have been busy preparing their work and there’s not long to go now. Samantha Bryan’s Fairies (pictured above) are en route. Here’s a little glimpse for you, and us, of what’s in store. …

These are the hands of Sarah Culleton working on one of her submissions.

Sarah Culleton

Sarah Culleton

“My own most iconic piece would be my God Save the Queen Bag, which was designed from an old biscuit tin of mine. And so I’m having a very self indulgent time, trying to make bag versions of many of the Coronation bits in my collection, which is quite possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time!”

Rachel Foxwell has been developing new work for our exhibition.

Rachel Foxwell

Rachel Foxwell

“I am really excited about this exhibition, it’s always amazing to be exhibiting alongside very talented makers. I am also excited as this exhibition is the first time I will be showing my ‘mixed vases’ – a new size vase with a combination colour palette from the colours in my range, and these will relate to the individual coloured vessels shown alongside them.”

Rachel Foxwell

Rachel Foxwell

“I have absolutely loved making these over the last few weeks, from making the very first pair it became very clear the possible combinations is endless and I can’t wait to make more to compliment my single coloured vessels.”

Clare Hillerby’s jewellery is now finished and ready to send to Unit Twelve.

Clare Hillerby

Clare Hillerby

We can’t wait to see this incredible brooch…

Clare Hillerby

Clare Hillerby

This is one of Lisa Ellul’s favourite pieces just about to be wrapped and sent to the gallery.

Lisa Ellul

Lisa Ellul

“I’ve highlighted some of the leaves with gold leaf as if they are reflecting the sunlight, though there is not much of that at the moment! I love the way the leaves look almost fossilised.”It’s wonderful to hear that so much pleasure has been during the preparations!

On Julia Parry-Jones’ bench peg:

Julia Parry Jones

Julia Parry-Jones

“All my delicate treasury pendants lined up on the bench, just a few finishing touches and they’ll be ready to go. I can definitely feel spring in the air! Early stages of making and soldering all the components of my statement ring. The completed piece has 11 carefully soldered joints in!”

Julia Parry Jones

Julia Parry-Jones

A personal favourite of Julia’s…this piece even has a detachable stick pin so you can remove the vintage millinery leaf for hand washing!

These are prints of some of the landscape observations submitted by Dionne Swift. They’re available to order here to run alongside her drawings and stitched work at the exhibition.

Dionne Swift

Dionne Swift

“I walk, draw and sew to bring the atmosphere and energy of the landscape into our homes. For ‘madebyhandonline presents…’ at Unit Twelve I have created brand new drawings and heavily stitched wall pieces in misty muted tones showing the calmer, more gentle side of our surroundings – lose yourself in the entwined threads/stitches, let the muted colours melt your worries away…”

Dionne Swift

Dionne Swift

Many thanks to our Makers for the special preview! Other Makers will be taking part and we can’t wait to see the finished exhibition. Please put the dates in your diaries and spread the news. We hope to see you there….

6th March – 31st May

Free admission

Open Thursday – Saturday, 10.00 – 4.00pm.

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Contemporary Craft Open, 5th Dec 2013- 1st March 2014 – Call for entry

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Unit Twelve is inviting submissions from contemporary craft makers for its Open exhibition. Selected works will be exhibited at the gallery as well as the opportunity to be a prize winner.

Prizes:

LNCF

A free stand at a Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair,

Shop Sign

a joint exhibition at Yellowstone Art Boutique,

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£100 Unit Twelve Voucher,

print garage

2 free places on a Print Club workshop,

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a pair of weekend tickets to The Contemporary Craft Fair, Bovey Tracey

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and £100 voucher to spend on madebyhandonline.com

Submission Deadline: 25th October 2013 (Midnight)

Delivery dates for selected work:21st, 22nd and 23rd November
Exhibition Date: 5th December 2013 – 1st March 2014
Private View: 7th December, 2-4pm

Successful applicants will be notified by email.

What we are looking for:
High quality contemporary craft – which could include textiles, wood, plastic, metal, ceramics, wire, jewellery, paper and printmaking. We are unable to accept fine art or photography.

Sizes and fixtures:
There is no minimum size but the maximum size is 75cm in length. 2D work must be framed (not clip frames) with the appropriate hangings ready for hanging.

Commission:
A commission of 35% will be taken on all sales, any work not for sale must be clearly marked.

Submission:
Up to 2 pieces per person can be submitted – there is a non-refundable submission fee of £10 per person paid online, by clicking this link: PAY HERE.  To submit, entrants should send 2 good quality jpegs per piece (1 full shot and 1 detail) by email to iainperry@ymail.com titled OPEN APPLICATION, along with your name, mobile number, title of works, price, medium, and size, once the application fee has been paid. You MUST use the same email address for both so we can tally the work to the application.

All selected work must be labelled on the back with name, contact and price details.

Insurance:
The artist is responsible for insurance and delivery of work to the gallery and it’s collection at the end of the show.

The Judges’ decision is final and NO correspondence will be entered into.

The work applied with MUST be the work you show, prices and titles CANNOT be altered from those put on your application.

Return postage must be enclosed with the selected work, otherwise it MUST be collected on 6th, 7th or 8th March 2014- we are unable to store work after this period.

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(Last years winners.)

Meet the Maker: Print Garage

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This time around we turn the spot light on the man who lurks in the shadows at Unit Twelve, Iain Perry, aka Print Garage who is these days a not so silent partner in the business. Responsible for the gallery’s digital presence and the branding (as well as being called on for various diy type problems), he also runs the monthly ‘Print Club‘ showing people how to screenprint. He describes himself as a ‘self-styled swashbuckling squeegee warrior’. It’s a colourful description, can you tell us a bit more about where that comes from?

I originally trained as a painter, graduating in ’99, my work moved through several phases – particularly collage and assemblage, but I was never really that satisfied with it. Jen gave me a workshop voucher a few Christmasses ago for a one off screenprinting workshop being run at Unit Twelve by Mandy Tolley from Hot Bed Press. Those six hours changed my life. Mandy just showed us some of the basics – making paper stencils. I was completely hooked. I immediately started pricing up some kit, bought a really modest little set up – a small screen, a squeegee etc and just got started. My first few prints were based around photographs I’d taken of some of my lego-men I’ve got dotted about the house. (I love lego and I love Star Wars, you can’t imagine how excited I was when they started making Lego Star Wars). Most of those prints were really small editions 5 or 6 of each – most of them have been sold and found loving homes to go to.

After that I decided I wanted to learn how to expose my own screens using light sensitive photo emulsion – so with the help of the internet and some books (not easy to track down) I eventually taught myself how and it took months of trial and error. Screen after screen, washing it down, trying to work out where I was going wrong, which variable needed changing – too much light, not enough light; I also figured out things like registration too – so that’s the self-styled bit, the swashbuckling I think probably relates to one of the early images I did of a pirate lego-man with a big red beard.

Redbeard

What about the warrior bit?

I think like all small(grownup) boys I’m fascinated by things like ninjas and samourai – there’s a book on one of my shelves called ‘Hagakure’ the Book of The Samourai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, it’s a weird little book, a kind of philosophy and moral code for the samourai class. I love Jedis too, but remember – Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.


And now you’re the one running the screen print workshops, that’s quite an achievement in such a short space of time. What can people expect from a Print Club session?

I offer two classes, a beginner and an intermediate. The beginner session is perfect for those who’ve never done it before, I show them all the basics- screens, squegee techniques, ink mixing and I show them how to make simple stencils and by the end of the day they all go home with a small edition of prints – usually 3 or 4 colours (sometimes more depending on how fast they work), everyone can work at their own pace, it’s non-threatening – a lot of people come to the class very nervous or they say they can’t draw. Everyone goes home with some finished prints and often the confidence to go off and take it a bit further on their own.

The intermediate is there for those who’ve done some printing before but this one focusses on how to expose screens and some basic registration techniques – to help get consistent results.

I think most importantly, the emphasis for both classes is firmly on how it is possible to set up at home. I don’t use high-falutin’ equipment – there’s no vacuum beds or expensive exposure units just affordable equipment that doesn’t take up too much room. (We also sell kits for those who want to get set up that they can take away with them – I also offer a screen exposure service as well).

(If you’re interested in finding out more or booking on a print workshop with Iain please click here for details.)

And now a few questions…

What’s the most interesting item in your studio?

My studio seems to attract interesting objects whether I want them or not – it’s our garage so I regularly have to reclaim it from all the stuff we throw in there whenever anyone comes round for dinner. Because it’s so cold there’s a shelf that doubles as a fridge. (Now my son has started eating food – we’re gonna need a bigger fridge). An artist friend of ours got rid of all her worldly belongings and became a buddhist nun – every other week she’d bring boxes of stuff round in case I could make anything from it. In there was an old slide projector and a metal box of slides, the photos look like they were taken in America back in the sixties, some kind of memento of a road journey – fascinating stuff. At the moment the most interesting thing in there is a small box of old typeset blocks, my great uncle used to run a printshop in Wales, mainly doing things like calendars (often with extra months in). I’m sat with an ink pad slowly going through the box and seeing what I’ve got – some ideas are starting to emerge at the back of my brain, playing around with found imagery I think might lead to some interesting semi-abstract work, could be my next project…


Who are your design heroes?

Peter Saville – who did a lot of the artwork for Factory Records (Joy Division, New Order etc). – really iconic work. (Tony Wilson is a bit of a hero as well).

I’ve got screen prints hung at home by Nigel Peake and Kate Banazi which I just love. I also really admire the work of Olly Moss who’s designed some fab alternative film posters.

From a painting aspect there’s people like Martin Kippenberger, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Bridget Riley.

Outside of the design world, I’m a bit of Carl Sagan fanboy, If you’ve never read or watched ‘The Cosmos‘, do so immediately or even better watch this (fav moment, 4:50):

My other big geek hero is Alan Turing, mathematician, inventor of the computer and cracker of the Enigma code – which helped the allies win the second world war. Without his efforts, it could all have been very different. Tragically he was prosecuted for being gay, was chemically castrated and eventually killed himself by eating an apple laced with arsenic.


Have you got a favourite book? What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I’m reading ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch, which is a swashbuckling romp about a gang of thieves of call themselves the ‘Gentlemen Bastards’. It’s ace, kind of like a potty-mouthed ‘Princess Bride’. I’ve always been a sci-fi geek and love authors like Iain M. Banks, Neal Stephenson and Cory Doctorow. I’m not averse to the classics either, my rabbit is named after a Charlotte Bronte character – Edward Fairfax Rochester. It’s impossible to choose a favourite book, there’s far to many of them!

Have you got a favourite film?

Another tricky one – too many to have just one. Maybe at a push – Bladerunner. So cold and so beautiful. The Vangelis soundtrack is sublime. THAT monologue.


Where would you most like to see your work exhibited?

There are a couple of places in London that are uber-cool print shops – Beach and Print Club London. Print Club do a yearly competition called ‘Blisters’ where people submit alternative film posters of cult classics. I chickened out of entering last year – this year if it runs I will definitely go for it.


Here’s your chance to get on your soapbox – is there anything that makes you angry or frustrated within the world of craft?

Hell yeah, how long have you got? *rolls up sleeves, deep breath* Plagiarism is an obvious one for starters, a problem that seems to be rife in the world of craft. Be inspired, sure – I’ve got a list of people’s work who I’m inspired by that’s ‘longer than a Leonard Cohen song’ (to quote Malcolm Tucker), but I’d be mortified if someone accused me of ripping off their work – the key is to make something that whilst acknowledging your sources is still your own.

That’s an interesting comment, how would you that qualify that when looking at your recent prints that include Star Wars characters?

They’re Star Wars characters – everyone recognises them, I’m not pretending that I’ve created the character Boba Fett, the composition, layout and patterning that’s all mine. It fits within a context of appropriation and quotation – the culture of the remix. I’d even class it as fan art in a way. If I get the ‘cease and desist’ letters from the billion dollar corporation that is Disney then I’ll go consult my attorney.

What really annoys me (or at least makes my eyes roll) though is the derivative bandwagons that keep on trundling past all the time. Imagine a robin with a moustache, eating a custard cream, whilst sat in front of a ‘Keep Calm and dot dot dot’ type poster… horrendous, isn’t it?


Do you ever question what you’re doing?

Yes. Repeatedly. Many times a day. Our whole house is held together with gaffer tape. I’m driving around in a 15 yr old car that in the winter I have to defrost the inside!


What you do to take time out and relax?

Depending on the time of day: Eat Haribo or drink single malt whisky.


What’s your greatest achievement so far?

I’m really pleased with the work I did for a band, Scotoma, they commissioned me to create a series of images to go with their new album. Which you can see here.

We’ve recently finished a collaborative project (Jennifer and I) with Cannock Chase AONB and Kingsmead Technology College looking at notions of well being and using the great outdoors as a starting point. I really enjoyed working on it and the students created some amazing work. At the private view one of the boys who’d been a part of it, said how it made him feel really proud to see his work hanging on our gallery wall. You can’t top moments like that.
(Images from the project can be found here).

www.printgarage.co.uk

Make, Do, Mend: Exhibition

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“I feel so proud seeing my work hanging there.” (Yr12 Student)

Currently on show at Unit Twelve is the culmination of the Make, Do, Mend project with the Year 12 students of Kingsmead Technology College.  The work featured is a mix of print and mixed-media collage.  The printworks all show a boldness in colour selection, form and composition; the medium has some inbuilt limitations that force the artist to approach image making differently, they need to be able think ahead and make decisions without necessarily knowing what the outcome of each step will look like.  The mixed media collage allows the students to be playful and frees them up to experiment with textures and materials, offering the possibilities of juxtaposing manmade materials next to natural ones.

The quote above from one of the students attending the recent private view is brilliant feedback.  Using Cannock Chase as a starting point has been very fertile, for us as artists it’s provided a rare opportunity to step away from our workspaces and breath in some fresh air and reconnect with the natural beauty that’s just down the road.  For the students it’s been a chance to see a project develop from a simple starting point into a finished exhibition with insights along the way into professional practice.  Overall it’s been a very successful project, we’ve both enjoyed working with the group and the finished work looks stunning.  The students have every right to feel proud of themselves, they’ve all worked really hard, have been receptive to new ideas and risen to the challenge set by the team at Unit Twelve.  We wish them all well for the future.

We’d also like to say a big thank you to the staff at Cannock Chase AONB for making this project possible.

Contemporary Craft Open: Private View

It’s been a couple of frantic and fraught weeks at Unit Twelve Gallery in the run up to our latest (and most anticipated) show – the Contemporary Craft Open.  This is the first time we’ve asked for open submissions, and we’ve had a truly amazing response.  We wisely decided on inviting in a guest panel (members of Madebyhandonline and Craftspace) to make the selections, a gargantuan task itself and a great way of ensuring fairness and neutrality.

The turnout for the private view was immense as well, for the team it’s so rewarding to see so many craft fans in our space in one afternoon.  We’re already looking forward to next year, we’re planning to extend the duration of the show to allow more people to come and see the wide spread of  high quality contemporary craft.

A big well done to our prize winners, well done to everyone who was selected and commiserations to those who didn’t make it in this year – the sheer number of submissions and the high quality ensured a tough time for the selection panel.  We can’t wait to see next year’s submissions!

The prize winners are listed below

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The winners:

Madebyhand: Karoline Rerrie

Craftspace: Ruth Singer

Embroidery Magazine: Dionne Swift

Print Garage: Bonkers Clutterbucks

Student Prizes: Claire Sherriff and Lily Chilton

And of course a BIGGG thank you to our selectors and organisations supporting the show:

Madebyhandonline, Craftspace, Embroidery Magazine and Print Garage

Studio space available

Studio space has just become available at Unit Twelve. Launched in May 2010 Unit Twelve has become a thriving contemporary craft venue in the Midlands, which hosts a gallery, a large workshop space and 5 artists studios, in a beautiful rural location, just a few miles out of Stafford. In this time the space has gained over 20 pieces of national press, including magazines such as Living etc, Embroidery, Mollie Makes and Crafts, to name just a few.

The space that has become available to rent is 4 x 4.2m, and is £60 per week (£240 per calendar month). The space could be split and have two people sharing (therefore £120 per calendar month each), though preference will be given to somebody wishing to take on the whole space.

This price includes:
* ALL bills (heating, electric, water, business rates)
* Informal mentoring and business support from Jennifer Collier,
*Inclusion in Unit Twelve’s advertising and publicity (including a large presence on Facebook and Twitter)
* Other artists to bounce ideas off
*An audience to sell direct to
*Use of the workshop space once a month to run your own workshops for free
*AND even tea, coffee and biscuits (and occasionally cake too!)

This space will be available from the 15th October 2012. If you are interested please email a few images of your work and an artists statement OR a link to your website to jcolliertextiles@yahoo.co.uk

Or do just pop in to see the space, for a cuppa and a chat: Open Thur-Sat, 10-4pm.