Getting out and about
NOTHING BEATS ACTUALLY BEING THERE FOR STIMULATING THE SENSES. CATH DEAN WALKS AND TALKS US ROUND THE PLACES AND PEOPLE
THAT GET HER CREATIVITY GOING
While one of the most valuable uses of Instagram is the sense of community it creates, nothing beats getting out and meeting those people in real life. Craft fairs like Crafty Fox Market (www.craftyfoxmarket.co.uk), BUST Craftacular (bust.com/london) and Renegade (www.renegadecraft.com) are full of the UK’s most exciting designer-makers, and getting the chance to chat to them and see their amazing products up close always gives me a massive creative buzz. Heading to the many di erent conferences and workshops on throughout the year is another way to feel part of a creative tribe. A recent weekend at creative blogging conference Blogtacular (www. blogtacular.com) reminded me how inspired I feel when I get a chance to share ideas with a group of people all passionate about the same thing.
comes easily when
you meet like-minded
people face to face.
“Is it time to put down our phones and head back into the real world to nd inspiration from real life and tangible experiences?”
The beauty of paper owers is that they will last long after fresh blooms have faded. If you’re feeling inspired by Anna Alicia’s designs, why not have a go
at drawing and cutting out some of your own?
Anna’s label, A Alicia, is home to her everevolving range of handmade textiles and ceramics, from jewellery to felt wall-hangings.
far less purposeful and rather ad hoc – especially with a toddler in the house!
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make things. I worked o ce jobs during my degrees (in Art History and Fine Art), and when I nished my MA I was at a bit of a loss as to where to go next, so I decided to try making things to sell online, starting with textile brooches.
It took a while and I had a huge amount to learn, especially about things like pricing, product photography and which websites to sell through, but in 2008, after just under a year, I was having trouble keeping up with orders alongside my ‘day’ job so I had to make a choice: I decided to take the plunge!
I’d need a whole book to cover all the challenges, there have been so many! The changing economy, dealing with ill-health as a self-employed person, choosing to start a family… I think all you can do is keep checking in with yourself and your situation – asking yourself what is and isn’t working and if anything needs to change, either because it’s not working for your business or because it’s not working for you.
The exibility and creativity of running your own business as a designer-maker are wonderful, but the ip-side is a huge lack of security and the necessity to be responsive and practical about what makes your business viable. This practicality can lead to unexpected pleasures though – I branched out into writing about craft and teaching workshops, and now ß writing is something I hugely enjoy and that ts well around motherhood, which not everything does.
Sewing is like a familiar old friend – I feel comfortable with it and comforted by it. I probably take it a bit for granted. Though I’ve been working in ceramics for a few years now, it still feels like an exciting new world with so much more to learn. So they both have their place for me. Now and then I also get to work with collage or drawing which
I feel really brings me back to the fundamentals of design – exploring how colours, shapes, marks and textures work together.
I don’t get much opportunity for ceramics work at the moment as I nd it far more di cult to t around early motherhood than sewing. It’s messier and there are elements of timing that
I’ve found really hard to make work with a little one’s unpredictability. But if there’s one thing I’ve realised about motherhood, it’s that it’s constantly changing, so I can see a point in the not too distant future when I’ll have my hands covered in clay again.
In the meantime, I’m really enjoying focusing more on my old friend, sewing. Fabric designs are one of my biggest inspirations at the moment. It’s a joy to work with beautiful fabrics and bring them to life. I also have a love of embroidery I’d like to indulge more, maybe designing projects that combine machine sewing with hand-embroidery.
One of the things that is always of importance to me is the question of
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS ALWAYS OF IMPORTANCE TO ME IS THE QUESTION OF
HOW I’M MAKING A DESIGN UNIQUE
how I’m making a design unique, and what makes it interesting and di erent. My business has been through so many changes that it’s hard to say where it might be in ve or 10 years’ time – I’m fascinated to nd out!
I imagine I’ll always be spinning a few di erent plates. I think that’s probably just in my nature and, more often than not, in the nature of a creative career. Certainly I’ll always be