Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A Word of Warning!

 I had to check my post dates to see the last time I had anything on here and see that it was at the end of March. This was before I attended my first ever Shows, the first being the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate in April and the second being the Great British Home Show in Bluewater, Kent. Quite a lot to take on as both shows were close together and with one being trade and the latter consumer, I had my work cut out for me

The Natty Maid Stand
I met so many lovely people, had lots of valuable feedback from buyers and had a great time taking in Harrogate itself each evening when we finished for the day. I am looking forward to next year.  Here are some pics of the stuff that proved most popular
Umber Cockerel Collagraph

Red Cockerel Collagraph

 There was a lot of interest in my collagraphs and linocuts and I was approached by a publisher interested in sampling my collagraphs for print. I have decided to go ahead with this and signed on the dotted line a couple of weeks ago. I am keeping a very open mind about this and may be able to post more about this soon. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me. Here are two of my rooster collagraphs.

I only have one of the red roosters as the others in the edition (4) got ink smeared over them as they were drying...think someone must have lifted the tissue while they were still wet. This is the only setback with collagraphs as the printing plates can flatten quite quickly resulting in a very small number in the edition.....makes them more collectible though I suppose.

Right, this is where the 'warning' part of my blog comes in. I thought that by sharing my experience of the Great British Home Show at Bluewater in Kent, other folks may be informed and as a result be prepared if approached by an events organiser promising the world.

Now thing is, I am not naive and I do not rush into things without giving them due thought and careful consideration. Therefore, when I was invited in January to take part in a 5 day event at 'one of the uk's top venues' I wanted to know more before I made any decisions.

The information I was given by the organiser who shall remain nameless was that this 'was an event for 55,000 visitors to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with the targeted visitors being ABC1 with household incomes of £60k plus'. I was asked to confirm that I would have enough stock to deal with a show that was expected to be very busy due to heavy promotion across TV, Radio and Print. Given the literature content I was sent at this point, I had no reason to doubt that this was a venture destined to fail, nor did any of the other unfortunate exhibitors who took part.

In short....it did. I have made more sales in a village hall. I, like a majority of other designers had committed to parting with  large amounts of money for stand fees, and worked extremely hard to build enough stock for an event that took less than 10% of the footfall.
The sad thing is, the organisers MUST have known that the ticket sales prior to the event were desperately low...yet they went ahead with it at our cost. A lesson learned.

Now,  it is standard to be approached by events organisers doing special reduced deals if you book a stand early. It is a sales tactic that is commonly used, as these folks work on commission. BUT if you do get contacted, do not be afraid to ask the following questions:-
  • How many times has this show been held previously? If several times, how successful were they and could they give testimonies from previous exhibitors.
  • If this is the first show, what have they based their demographic on? Do they have a report and could you see it? 
  • Is this the first time the event has been hosted at a particular venue? If so, how successful have other shows been? You could contact the venue direct for a history of shows held.
  • If tickets are being sold prior to the event, what action, if any, will be taken by the organiser should the ticket sales be low.
Most of these events are well organised by people who know what they are doing and as a result they should have absolutely no problem in answering these queries. It may be slightly emabarrassing, especially if they appear to be promoting a show apparently in the same calibre as the Ideal Homes Exhibition...but far better to be slightly embarrassed, than out of pocket and robbed of precious time.


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Forgive me Blogger it has been 3 months since my last post!

And here was I thinking I would be posting on a weekly basis in the lead up to the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate in April! Well I suppose it means I have been busy trying new designs, planning how my stand is going to look etc. In truth I am as nervous as can be about this, wondering whether I will get any interest in my work. It is daunting taking that leap, but one that needs to be done nonetheless. So, in terms of my work, I have been print, Print, PRINTING.

In addition to tote bags, I have been printing hankies. After screenprinting my own wrapping paper later last year, I wanted to look at other things that could be used for gift wrap, but more for the fact that it could be kept for another purpose. I had heard about Furoshiki and decided to start small scale using cotton handkerchiefs.

Furoshiki have been used for centuries in Japan, originally as a means of bundling and carrying goods. Now it is increasing in popularity as a more eco friendly way of wrapping gifts. They come in various sizes, the smallest being handkerchief size. These are ideal for wrapping smaller items such as candles, perfume, soap...even a sandwich!

I have decided to call mine 'Hansel Hankies' 
The word 'Hansel' is used frequently in the Shetland dialect and is derived from the Old Nordic word 'handsal' meaning 'giving of the hand to seal a promise' In Shetland it is common to give a hansel to commemorate something new as in a new baby, house etc

 I will be printing larger napkins and table cloths but all in good time. Lets see how these go first!