Monday, 17 March 2014

My Solutions to a Creative Slump

This time I wanted to write a post about some work I have been creating. It's been a little while since I posted about being creative and things I have been working on. The difficult thing is however, that I haven't really been very creative or worked on anything recently. So today's post is going to be about what I do when I'm struggling to come up with ideas or just being creative at all. 

So, to start, I get really fed up and moany! I mope about a bit and sit at my desk with a blank page in front of me and all kinds of exciting materials like washi tape, stickers, Posca pens and graphic markers and still can't come up with anything. Cue more moping! 

When I've finally pulled myself together I get together a stack of books for inspiration. Our house is a bit like a non-fiction library. I have a problem. I admit it. BUT I am so grateful for having many exciting books to flick through in times of need. 

Just a the stack I'm currently pouring over!

I'll also doodle while watching TV. This stops me from worrying too much about the results. I find that because I make products I'm always thinking about if what I'm doing is worthwhile because I can make money from it. That is, in fact, utter madness. Every doodle and experiment is worthwhile because it's a journey, a process that may result in a fantastic idea and a very worthwhile product! Also just sketching or doodling is fun and keeps being creative exciting. 

I doodled this page while watching Exit Through The Gift Shop a documentary about Banksy. 

Another trick I do is try and recreate something that has really inspired me. You can learn so much about a material or a technique by trying to do it yourself and then you can manipulate it or develop it into your own work. 
This collage was inspired by the beautiful branding of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics. I liked the idea but not the result so much!

Share your own tips for getting out of a creative slump in the comments! 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ideas 1, 2, 3 to 100

Today's post is going to be about the importance of refining and developing your ideas.

The reason I decided to write about it is because I spend a lot of time telling my students how important it is to come up with a variety of different ideas before making a final outcome. Every week and probably in most sessionz I'm telling them to come up with at least 3 different ideas and how their work will be improved for it, but as you have probably ascertained, they don't listen, or I wouldn't be saying it over and over again

I can preach this to my students because I know how important it is for me, as a maker of products. If I always went with the first idea that sprung into my head and didn't sketch it out first I would make a lot of rubbish and lose a lot of money!
So here is just a simple example of how I have played with ideas before refining and perfecting using Adobe Illustrator to create a final product. This image is now used for brooches, earrings, greeting cards and tote bags. They are selling well but if I'd chosen to use the first cat drawing at the top it may not have been so successful.

It can take a lot of thinking, experimenting, redrawing, and refining before I'm happy with an idea and it's a good job too. I have made the mistake of just screen printing first ideas in the past and those are definitely the products I now like the least and have to lower the price to sell.

Have you learnt this lesson the hard way as well? I wonder if my students will understand it one day!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

How We Pick Stallholders For I Make Fun Stuff Markets

As an artist/maker and an organiser of craft and vintage markets I have experience of trying to make new, original and well made work for myself and judging other people's work by my own standards.

Today's blog is going to be a little bit about how we decide what we are looking for in stallholders for the I Make Fun Stuff markets and how that has made me work harder on my own work.

As market organisers it's really important to us that the quality of work on sale is really high, it is original, so you can't just walk into a high street shop and buy something similar and you wouldn't see it sold at a traditional craft market.We want to be different from the typical craft fair and offer the more contemporary makers a platform to sell their work and attract the right audience. The main reason we started I Make Fun Stuff is because my work wasn't selling at fairs where the others stallholders sold quilts, ceramics, wood turning etc. It just didn't fit in.

There are a few questions we ask ourselves when judging whether we think an applicants work is what we want or not.

  • Have we seen it before? (Have we seen similar products from other people?)
  • Would it be sold at a traditional craft fair? 
  • Does it suit our target audience?
  • Is it well made?
  • Do I wish I'd thought of that myself?
  • Do I want to buy their work?
  • Does it "fit" with the general feel/ethos of the market?
It is important to us that we are confident and passionate about the work of everyone who sells at our events. We don't accept every application and that is really difficult, we don't want to let people down but not everything we see is what we are looking for. Not everything we see is made well enough. Not everything we see is new and original and when it comes down to it, if our customers don't want to buy it our stallholders don't make any money. If the standard of our markets drops because our customers aren't interested in the stalls we won't be able to do them anymore so we will stand by our decisions. Also, we want to offer something unique that is exciting for our good town of Ipswich and so the work on offer needs to be unique too.

All these amazing makers and artists inspire my own work greatly and motivate me to continue to develop my products and ensure that they are the highest quality possible. I have often compared my products to someone else's, for example someone else who screen prints bags, and felt their's are better. Whether they are or not it pushes me to improve what I do and that can't be bad!