Is profit at craft fairs everything?

Is profit everything?

Looking at my profit from my craft fair on Saturday 8th Sept and thinking should I be disheartened? I’m not shy to say that I didn’t manage to cover the cost of my table this weekend and that is a first. So how do I feel?

I had been going in with the expectation of selling majority of my stuff, making good pocket money and being happy with the outcome. Even though I didn’t really sell anything I still felt happy with my outcome. The event was advertised as a craft fair with around 10 - 12 different stalls with the fundraising organisers tombola and raffle for The Stray Animal Fund charity. Running along side this was a dog show which meant there were lots of lovely dogs throughout the day.

The foot fall was smaller than expected and maybe my work wasn’t suited to the audience but i knew my table cost was going towards the event as well as buying a few raffle and tombola tickets. I networked with a few people and sold a few items but overall the day was for a good cause which is why the profit didn’t matter.

The event raised £1500 in total for The Stray Animal Fund. It was for a great cause and I had a great day. It’s not all about the money, it’s about networking, attending events that will only lead to more opportunities

Don’t be disheartened. For me this is still a hobby and I enjoy the process of getting myself ready for these events, setting up and networking whilst I’m there. Making money is great but for me being in the early stages of these events, I know it’s not everything.

#motivationmonday  

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Last Minute Craft Fair

Last Minute Craft Fair

I have been quite quiet recently and I am still struggling to find this balance. I only have myself to blame.

To get myself going again I am doing a craft fair this Saturday! I was approached by a lovely lady who said she found my illustrations in one of the shops I sell in and asked if I would be happy selling my work on a craft table at a charity event.

I was only given 2/3 weeks notice but I am taking this as a challenge to force myself to MAKE time for the thing I love doing.

I’m keeping my stock very similar and simple – I have a lot of stock floating about so reusing what I have will only make this as easy as possible for me. I have ordered a few bits and pieces from the printer which I am really excited to collect!

What worked well for me before was taking my card stand and having some items elevated on the table.  Since then I have also bought a shelf that has a groove in the middle and lip on the edge so I can stand up and display my prints. This cost me £6 from Ikea’s bargain corner – BARGAIN.

I’m looking to make a good profit on this fair and hopefully meet some new and interesting people! It’s also a fun dog show as well helping to celebrate The Stray Animal Fund’s 10th Anniversary, so it’s all for a good cause.

The craft fair in at St Matthew’s Church Hall, The Drive, Northampton, NN1 4RY, 11am – 4.30pm.

Finding a balance...

I knew getting that balance between work life and creative life would be heard but I didn’t know it would be THIS hard. Earlier this month I said I was going to write this blog post but I didn’t even get round to doing it until now.

Now Uni is all over I find myself launched into the real world. I now have a 9 – 5 job that I’m using as a stepping stone before finding myself a creative career. I didn’t realise how hard I would find it to keep being creative on the side. While I am now an admin assistant I find myself being exhausted at the end of the day and not having the motivation to make illustrations. I feel so bad, after finding out I got a First Class Honours in my degree it makes me upset that I’m not doing anything creative.

It probably doesn’t help that I now participate in 2 sports a week, I just find all my time is taken up and any spare time I want to do nothing because I’m mentally exhausted from staring at a computer all day and physically exhausted from playing sport.

So where does the balance come in? I am actually yet to settle down and find a balance when all I want to do at the moment is sleep. I know that I need to set myself a new project, new goals so that I keep producing illustrations I am proud of and still want to see in my shop spaces, share on social media etc etc. I wanted to speak about this because I kinda want to show it’s okay to sometimes be a bit all over the place. I know this is just a blip and that it will all balance itself out eventually. My passion for illustration is still strong I just have to ignite it again.

I feel the answer is as simple as I just need to make time. I need to make time for the things I love and dedicate a section of my work towards that. Balance is important and making time for your passion and talent is so important. Going forward I will set myself new goals and begin a new project where I will start making new work that I am proud of.

-       Lizzie x

End of Year Degree Show – BA Hons Illustration, University of Gloucestershire

End of Year Degree Show – BA Hons Illustration, University of Gloucestershire

Now my time at University is up what a better way to show case my final work for university then at my end of year degree show. We knew as a course from the beginning about the degree show and that our Final Major Project module would be show cased in the event.

Third year was such a crazy rush that I didn’t really start to think about my work in the show until the show was just over a month away! We had to carefully plan our spaces, send our work off to get printed and contribute to the setting up of the show. The weeks leading up required a lot of painting and prep for the space, cleaning floors, hanging frames and putting up shelves. The show had to look uniform but also reflect each illustrator’s work in their own space. We overcame this through starch pasting decorations and characters around the spaces whilst we all had our work in uniform sizes and in the same white washed frames.

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Along with our spaces we were contributed work to a small shop space in the degree show. This is quite a unique element I feel to other degree shows and due to the course I did, it felt relevant to sell our own work. We had books, badges, prints, tote bags, pencil cases and framed prints all from different styles, approaches making a really lively and interesting shop.

Opening night was a bit panicked, running from 6pm – 9pm, I rocked up around 8pm worried I may have missed out on something important! It felt like the right time to get there as the show was crazy busy and began to calm down a bit around that time. It gave me a chance to have a proper look around, not only my courses space, but all other student’s spaces from other courses as well.

If you still want to have a look and are in and around the Gloucestershire area, the Degree Show runs from 9th June – 22nd June, 10am – 4pm everyday including weekends. Hardwick Campus, Cheltenham GL50 4BS. 

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DIY screen print using home materials – does it work?

Social media is my go to for finding inspiration for not just illustrations, but for everything. Scrolling through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram etc. I always stumble across ‘DIY’ and ‘hack’ videos. I love watching them but I’ve never given any a try. DO THEY WORK!?

This morning I found one that I really wanted to try. Anything that replicates a complex art process, I’m down for trying. I saw this on twitter but found the original video on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQUW5G26Z2w.

It was a DIY hack for, I what I assume, is screen printing.  All you needed was tights, an embroidery hoop and Mod Podge.

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I followed the instructions – firstly, cutting the tights and stretching them over the embroidery thread. Secondly you drew out your design, and then applied the Mod Podge to the area you don’t want the paint to print through. I chose to use a generic head shape from my illustrations of Pebble Heads so that I could then illustrate on top of the shape after. Once dried, I applied acrylic paint on a dried area of Mod Podge and then with a flat edged piece of cardboard, dragged with paint over at an angle, like you would with screen printing.

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The process of drying was lengthy and the result was, blobby… I could see the potential but I just feel that because it is just paint on tights, it can’t be perfect! I had a few more attempts but the edge wasn’t as clean cut as the real deal.

It was fun to give it a go, as hacks like this, if good, could save a lot of money and enable complex print process techniques to happen at home. Maybe the paint was wrong, or the paper? Or maybe I had the wrong tights. But this hack is a no from me!

-       Lizzie x

After the Barley Mow Craft Fair – How did it go?

After the Barley Mow Craft Fair – How did it go?

After many weeks of prep for this craft fair, I am happy to say it went really well! Setting up was the trickiest part but I just wanted to make sure it looked good from a customer perspective and that prices and signs were easy to read. I took the most time on this, getting ready to set up an hour before the time of selling.

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I was really happy with the look of my space. I used the range of house hold things for displays which I mentioned in my other blog post. These worked really well to show off my work in the best way possible.

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The overall experience was great. Whilst sales and footfall was very slow, I spoke to some great people about their work, and some general chit chat. As well as this, I got invited to another craft fair in October, also in my local area. It goes to show, even if there isn’t much financial gain, it’s more important to make those connections with other people in the creative community as they are much more valuable.

I now have a better understanding of the functionalities of these events and now understand how best to approach the again. Being honest, there isn’t anything major I would do differently next time, but I will make a few tweaks and make a conscious effort to think about the run up to Christmas and make some new work appropriate to the season. It was a great experience overall and I feel blessed to be given the opportunity. 

- Lizzie

Barely Mow Craft Fair Prep – My First Craft Fair

Barely Mow Craft Fair Prep – My First Craft Fair. Bank Holiday Monday May 28th 2018 - 12pm - 4pm

I have been to many craft fairs in my time but never have I had my own stuff there. Since being at Uni, I have seen lots of people I admire on Instagram selling their illustrations at fairs and always thinking it was something I would love to do. As I have said before, it is only towards the start of my third year at Uni I started to make work I was proud of would want other people to buy.

I came about finding this craft fair as it is at a local pub. On night in the week I was there having a few drinks with friends when there was a small flyer on the table about how there would be a craft fair at the pub on May Bank Holiday. It was then I was encouraged by the people I was with to email the pub and see if they had a small space for me there to sell some bits. This goes back to my previous post about taking opportunities. This opportunity was literally in front of my face and I would be silly to ignore it. A few emails later and my spot was secured. I don’t know how the normal process goes but this one felt very straight forward.

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This fair will be a great starting point for me. As it is the pubs first craft fair, it is free of charge (great for my pocket!) which means everything I should sell will be profit. Before I can even think about making profit, I had to look into the stock that I have already and see what else I need to fill my space and provide variety to my stall. I did this by making a mini ‘mock-up’ of my stall and laying all my work out on the table and having a good look at the aesthetic of my stand and the other bits and pieces I would need.

I took my time by beginning the prep 3 weeks before the fair as it was new to me, I wanted to get it right and make sure I had everything I needed and there would be no last minute flaps. I had to think about stock but I also had to think about display, pricing and banners making sure everything was clear for customers. As a customer, what would I want from a craft fair stall?

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Looking through Pinterest, I was looking at other fair stands and what they looked like to give me some more guidance and support about how I could have my stall looking. I started by looking at things I had just around my house to use for display to hold my work in keep cost down. I tried to look at things that were wooden, clear or white/brown to try and blend the ‘construction’ and ‘display’ into the background. I found a few items that would work and I also ordered myself a small stand that I was really happy with the price and the quality.

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B016I670NE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 < Get yours here

As the stall approaches in the next few days I am now added the finishing touches of wrapping up my prints in cellophane, adding prices, writing a stock list and trying to advertise as much as I can to drum up some publicity to the event. Luckily, any left-over stock won’t be wasted as I have a few other retail outlets that I can sell my work at - I want to speak about these more in another blog post!

What have I learnt so far? Recap:

·       Prep is key to feeling organised (and help you act like you know what you’re doing!)

·       Mock up your stall up so you can visual better how it will look on the day.

·       Think about display and how you want the stand to work for your customers.

·       Price things big and clear so that customers can see how much your things are quickly.

·       It’s a first look into the world of craft fairs so enjoy it and give it everything.

·       Over stock rather than under-stock

I am excited to see what the event holds, the people I will meet and I’m looking forward to the overall experience.

I will keep you posted about how the event went and some after thoughts! – hopefully see you there Monday Bank Holiday, May 28th 12pm – 4pm - Barley Mow, Paulerspury NN12

- Lizzie

 

What happens next? Life after Uni - Illustrators cut. 

End of April I had just handed in my last ever university module. Exciting times, but then the reality kicks in of ‘what happens next?’. I feel like you get so sucked up in your course, your work, meeting your deadlines that when the rush is over you haven’t actually had time to think about your next steps. So what is next?

Starting my Illustration course at University of Gloucestershire I had no idea what to expect, my mind was so narrow to the thought of ‘illustration’ that it didn’t stretch beyond ‘drawings in children’s books’ – how naive of me. Three years later and I have a better understanding of myself as an illustrator and some directions I could take myself in.

Luckily, my course has offered a lot of support in the paths we could take and a lot of these ideas and concepts are integrated into the modules themselves. A whole module was dedicated to being professional, work experience and internships. Take the opportunities that are presented to you – don’t avoid things because they are scary or difficult. Opportunities like this are within the safety blanket of University as practice for the real world - (whether we knew it or not). Explore new avenues and different areas of interest as you never know what that might spark for you.

‘Take the opportunities that are presented to you.

 

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As an illustrator, I found my ‘visual language’ at end of second year moving into third year. As cliché as it sounds, something just clicked for me and I knew the sort of path I wanted to take. I LOVE the handmade, whether that’s craft, handmade print processes, older traditional ways of working, and naturally I found myself falling into the ‘designer maker’ category of the illustration world. I found a way of working that I enjoyed, that worked FOR ME and enabled me to bring my illustrations to life. This helped me work out where I wanted to be and that being a freelance could provide me an income and maybe one day be my full time job.

DO YOU. I can’t stress enough about being you. On a creative course, or any course for that matter, you may look at other people’s work, or ways they work and think you’re not good enough, you should be more like that. Just stop and think about what makes you you, what works for you and that is what will set you apart from everyone else. Being true to yourself will open those genuine avenues and steps for YOUR progress. Following in the shadow of someone else could wind you up with something you don’t enjoy and life is too short.

Whilst I now work a part time job to bring in some income, I pick up commissions wherever I can through my Instagram account, Facebook page and on my website. I would love for freelance illustration to be my full time career, but starting off, it’s not realistic. Push for those goal and dreams but it’s more important to be realistic.

Alongside my part time job, the occasional commission, I have my own shelf in a local retail outlet selling my illustrations. This was an opportunity that popped up around Christmas 2017 where the local shop was looking for local artists for their shop. I was nervous and didn’t think I was good enough to have my own work in a shop but I took the opportunity. TAKE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES because you never know where they will lead you.

‘Push for those goal and dreams but it’s more important to be realistic.’

Life after Uni doesn’t have to be full of worry and uncertainty. Have your long term goals in mind and work towards them bit by bit. Your dream job might pop up 5 years down the line, but don’t sit around and wait for it. Be proactive, fill your time with small steps that could build you up towards your goal. Working on a portfolio, making things for you, looking after yourself for a while after Uni, get a smaller part-time job to tide you over and look for the next opportunity. The big goals are like giant jigsaws and the pieces that make those big goals and the smaller steps you have taken.

Spend time with your loved ones, look after yourself, work hard for the things you want and just always have in the back of your mind your next goal and your next step and the rest will fall into place. It’s not as scary as you think.

-       Lizzie