We hear daily about the economic crisis deepening, budgets tightening and funds for the arts being slashed. And I am sure many other artists will know working alone in your studio can be lonely sometimes; it can be difficult to get the creative juices flowing on a dark foggy day in March. Considering all of this, as an emerging artist currently setting up a craft business I can understand why those around me think I might be slightly mad!
Yet amongst the economic gloom (and fog) there are beacons of light shining bright, championing makers and supporting emerging artists. Recently I have been lucky enough to experience this support first hand, through Design Factory. Design Factory is a membership scheme for craft and design practitioners based in the Midlands (yes we are not Southern and we are not Northern.) An independent panel selects artists for one of six levels of membership (one has been newly added for national members) its aim is to promote artistic integrity, raise the standard of craft and design and commercially support and develop the very best designer/makers in craft practice today.
I attended one of their get togethers yesterday at the National Centre for Craft and Design, which was attended by 40+ Design Factory members. It was a fantastic opportunity to mingle and chat with artists at all stages of their careers. I gained tips and advice for my upcoming stand at the British Craft Trade Fair (stand N64) from Stuart Akroyd who makes beautiful glass objects. Having attended the BCTF for the past 12 years he was a great source of knowledge. It was really wonderful that artists want to share their experiences and offer support to emerging makers like myself.
As part of the get together we discussed the continuous development programme Design Factory offers, most of which is free to DF members it covers basic essentials such as pricing, social media, press & PR and the chance to have a professional review of your portfolio. A particular highlight of the afternoon was Patricia Van Der Akker from The Design Trust, who gave a really engaging speech offering more support through The Design Trust. Patricia spoke in depth about artist collaborations and how to go about working with another artist and what the benefits can be.
The get together was followed by nibbles (yum) and a preview of the latest exhibition at the NCCD, ‘Synchronise’ in which Design Factory members have collaborated with each other to produce pieces of work. Synchronise is a truly amazing exhibition, showcasing some fantastic craft and design produced through collaboration in ceramics, stitch, glass, jewellery and print. Below is a few selected pieces from the exhibition (on until the 2nd June 2013.)
If I had to collaborate with another member of design factory first on my list would be Louisa Finch who produces beautiful coloured glass sculptures. I thought it would be interesting to see how ceramics and glass could be combined in a kiln…. a project for the future perhaps?!
If you are interested in applying to become a member of Design Factory, the next membership application deadline is the 1st April 2013.