Blog, Meet the Maker

Today is Just a card day.

Meet the artist and designer and brains behind the “Just A Card Campaign “ Sarah Hamilton

Sarah Hamilton is a designer of cards and prints, she started the not-for–profit  ‘Just A Card Campaign’ about four years ago.        

As it says on it’s web site, The Just a Card Campaign, aims to encourage people to buy from Designer/Makers and independent Galleries and shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even ‘just a card’ are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses.

JB Did you go to art school originally and if so where and what did you study?

SH I studied fine art and print making at Manchester and then I did a post-graduate course in print making at Central St Martins.

JB After art school, what did you do next?

SH I always knew what I wanted to do and I was very focused. I made myself a press and printed some sample cards. I took them to Paper Chase, Heals and The Conran Shop. They all liked them and took them. I sold 1000’s and printed every one of them myself by hand.

JB You have written a book called House of Cards? Brilliant name by the way, were you asked to do this or was it your idea?

SH The book was my idea and I had it for a while. I met my publishers, Pavilion, at an event and pitched it to them. They loved it and were so receptive that they went with it immediately.

JB Why did you come up with the concept of Just a card?

SH The campaign came about when I saw the quote “ If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had ‘just bought a card’ we’d still be open” by storekeepers who’d recently closed their gallery. This prompted a call to action! Designer/Makers and independent shops and galleries need a voice. People seldom realize the considerable costs involved in exhibiting at design shows or keeping a shop open. Stand fees, power, materials, wages etc, need to be met before even a penny of profit can be realized. Running a shop is often a labour of love. Without dedication and passion, and crucially sales, it would be another boarded up eyesore.

JB It seems to have taken off in a big way, how has this come about?

SH To be honestnothing much happened for the first year and a half of the campaign and then I got support from The Design Trust. I put out a shout for people to get involved and last year it became massive.  We now have a team of 11 of us working on this. Everyone gives their time for free.

 At the end of last year we got financial support from funding circle. As they say on their web site.

‘Funding Circle was born from the belief that when small businesses succeed, everyone benefits. We have been able to help more than 42,000 British small businesses to get finance through Funding Circle since 2010. However, we know times are tough for independent businesses across the country, which is why we are delighted to announce that we’ll be supporting the Just A Card campaign.’

JB What is next for the Just A Card Campaign?

CARD DESIGN MELISSA WESTERN

SH We have had 15 posters designed that are going to be put up in five different tube stations. We have photographs of different actors entertainers and those in the public eye each wearing a ‘Just a Card’ pin. Included are Twiggy, two of the actors from Game of Thrones, Michael Palin and many others. They have all given their time for free.

JB Describe your typical working day?

SH I am either in my studio making art, working towards exhibitions or fulfilling commissions. I may be chatting to the team about developments for the ‘just a card campaign’.

JB One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents.

Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

SH Having a child had a big impact on my work.  Before I had him I worked from a studio away from home, once he was born it was more practical to work from home. My husband is also freelance so we were able to share the childcare. I didn’t have the option of stopping work, as I don’t have a private income, and I needed to make a living.  I wouldn’t have wanted to stop work anyway.

JB Do you run creative workshops?

SH Not at the moment, although I have done so in the past. I have run social media classes with The Design Trust and I taught on a foundation course for a couple of years.

JB How long have you been working as a professional  designer?

SH Ever since I left art school 30 years ago.

JB I understand that you are a trustee for the charity Anno’s Africa a UK based children’s arts charity running educational arts projects for children living in slum conditions in Kenya, how did that come about?

SH I have lived in Africa on and off during my life and my mother was half South African. I felt it would be good to be involved in a charity that was relevant to my work and the arts in general.

JB How do you find your clients or do they find you?

SH They find me, often through word of mouth or they may have bought my work previously.

JB What is the best part of your work and what is the worst part?

SH The best part of my work is having the creative freedom to do what I want. This is one of the reasons that I don’t license my work, as for me the most important aspect of it is the creativity and the stimulus to learn and not to be forever driven by what will sell. Obviously I need to sell my work in order to make a living, but that is not the most important part of my work.

The worst part of my work  is having to write so much. I need to do this for the Just a Card web site, but it is very time consuming and I am a perfectionist so it has to be well thought out and correct.

JB Who or what inspires you?

SH I am inspired by the creative community that I have around me. I have always taken part in group shows and love working with other people. As artists and designers everything we do is about communication and collaboration.

JB What is next for your work?

SH I shall be holding an open studio event at Christmas so I have already started working towards that.

Many thanks Juliet Bawden

Blog, Meet the Maker, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker Jehane Boden Spiers, Textile designer, Art licenser and Consultant

Jehane in her studio surrounded by work

I know you as a textile designer and maker, Can you tell me if you went to art school and if so what did you study?

I was born & bred in Brighton. I studied Textile Design at Winchester School of Art (1994 – BA Hons).

How and when did you become an art consultant?

I have curated my fellow artists’ work since first opening my house for the Brighton Festival in 2002. I discovered that I am skilled at selling other artists work and enjoy talking about the creative process. The next one is every weekend in May starting on the 4th in less than two weeks time . For details of Venues, locations and times look at https://aoh.org.uk/house/may2019/

I became a licensing agent in 2004 when my children were born. Through my work as an agent, I have received many submissions from artists that I have not been able to represent for one reason or another. Being an art consultant means that my services can be offered more widely. I now offer one-to-one consultancy to emerging and established artists internationally.

You contributed a chapter to the very successful book ‘House of Cards’ did you enjoy the writing process and have you ever written a book of your own.

I loved it! I would love to do a book of my own. It’s on my bucket list.

Can you give us a brief history of how you started out.

I first licensed my own designs in 1992 as a student at Winchester School of Art. I worked as a textile designer in Vienna when I graduated. I set up as a freelance designer back in Brighton in 1996 under the name of Cloth of Gold.

I designed for industry (mainly paper products), made one-off embroidered pieces for private clients, and created hand-made items for small batch production sold to galleries and retail outlets nationally.

My designs have sold for textiles, gift-wrap, greeting cards & more. Licensees of my designs include Stewo, Jung Design, Gallery Five, Sanderson Fabrics, Baumann, Penny Black, Collage, Medici, Zoewie, Boots Plc, and The Paper House Group. 

My designs have featured on London Underground posters. My retail clients have included Liberty of London, English Heritage, the RSC, and Vienna & Sydney Opera Houses. My one-off embroideries have sold in galleries nationally. I have given many talks about her artwork including at the V & A.

I also had a variety of agents before I set up on my own as an Artists’ Agent. I was always very pro-active, exhibiting at trade fairs and contacting shops/ licensing clients directly.

What is a typical day for you?

Work by Ken Eardley

Everyday starts with catching up on my Instagram and planning the day’s social media. I will walk down to my workspace at Studio Eleven where I have been for 7 years. I have my own room in a shared studio space of creatives. It’s a great atmosphere and very focused. I currently spend all of my time at a computer although I have started planning a new range of products for my Open House in May. A typical day I would be designing and writing new marketing campaigns, liaising on existing licenses, contacting new clients, and giving creative direction to the artists that I work with.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being immersed in another artists’ work. I enjoy the wide variety of client responses to artwork and the fun of trying to predict who might like what. Most of all I love combining my love of the visual world with conversations

What do you dislike most about what you do?

Being solely defined and seen as an agent. Being a designer is at the source of everything I do.

Examples of Jehane’s work

What made you want to start your own creative business? I knew it would be the thing I would most regret not doing.

Your business seems to have really grown over the last few years how has this happened?

I have always worked hard. I have never taken time out. More recently, I have spent a lot of time asking myself difficult questions and challenging myself. What is really important to me? I realised that working in an inter-disciplinary manner is hugely important to me. It has guided me to expand my offer. I have been able to promote hard as a result because I am very sure of my vision. This has really helped me to grow my business.

Cressida Bell

Can you describe your creative process?

It always starts with a response to either pattern, colour, or words. I often need to make associations and connections between things.

What are your biggest challenges?

So much to do, so little time.

I also find it hard to send short emails!

Focusing on the bigger picture when there are so many details pulling me the other way.

Speaking in public – I have lots to say but I get incredibly nervous.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

Work hard. Ask questions, Don’t be scared to put yourself in front of people. Think about your own intent, what is important to you, really important to you? This will be invaluable in guiding your decision-making. Present everything visually and beautifully. Attention to detail.

Nancy Nicholson

Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

I think it is easier. There are more resources and the creative industries are booming. Even though they are marginalized in schools, they are more recognized by the government (and people at large) as being crucial to the economy. 35% of the UK’s income is from the creative industries. Websites and social media make it much easier to be seen and to connect with clients.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and if so how did it impact on your creative life or business?

I decided to license work by other artists was when I had my children. I was scared that if I took a seven year break from my designing, to have my two children, that I would lose confidence and be unable to get back into the industry. Having children can be isolating as can be working on your own. Working as an agent meant I still had lots of contact with people even though I was working at home. I worked virtually full time when my children were young in order to develop my business but I decided against having a nanny or an au pair. It is a constant juggle!

Have you exhibited? If so, where?

Yes – all over the country, mainly in group exhibitions but all over 15 years ago.

Liberty of London

Grace Barrand Design Centre

Ferrers Gallery

Manchester City Exchange

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art etc

How do you find clients?

Trade fairs, social media, trade magazines, look at the underneath of products

What are you currently working on?

Planning new products with my designs for my open house

New newsletters for Jehane Ltd

A bespoke licensed range with British Airways i360 and Cressida Bell

Talking to New artists for representation

Planning my open house; getting flyers ready to print

& more!

What is next?

An online shop on www.jehane.com

Has social media impacted on your business and if so in what way?  Yes, hugely. It has been the launching pad for my new business Jehane Ltd and has been the main reason that I have attracted the new artists I represent and the new clients I am talking to.

Many thanks Juliet

book review

House of Cards

Beautiful greetings cards to make from expert card designers, by ‘Just a Card’ campaign founder Sarah Hamilton

9781910904572

This excellent book celebrates the very best in contemporary greeting card design. The ten makers featured talk about their work practice, show their studios and also present a project for the reader to make.

Having said that, the book is not prescriptive but instead encourages the reader to use their own imagination to create cards using the techniques  shown.

The book opens with a chapter on the history of the greeting card and how charity cards came into being. The author then discusses where to find inspiration.

There is a chapter on selling cards including very practical tips, such as the most economic size to make them, choosing envelopes to enhance the card and putting your details on the back of the card.

Most informative and very useful is the chapter written by Jehane Boden Spiers, who as well as being an artist in her own write also runs a company representing artists to publishers. Her company is called ‘Yellow House Art Licensing’ and she has some very good artist /designers on her books. By licensing work if it is successful it can generate a very good income stream for the artist.

The techniques covered include letterpress printing, silkscreen printing, decoupage, lino cut printing, paper cutting and textile foiling.HouseofCards_HR_RGB (#31ECC

Sarah’s own work is inspired by colour, nature, and mid century design. She started her own working life designing cards for Paperchase, The Conran Shop, and Habitat.

HouseofCards_HR_RGB(c#31ECB

This is a book well worth adding to your craft library and is excellent value.

Published by Pavilion £14.99

www.pavillionbooks.com

www.justacard.org

www.yellowhouseartlicensing.com