A New Way Forward ? Red Bubble ?

A new way forward ? I realised it’s been some time since my last post, you start with the best intentions ! Like Social Media, unless you post regularly, there’s almost too much to catch up on and you don’t know where to start up again ! Since the lockdown I scrambled to think of a new way forward and was very grateful for the support from Arts Council England Emergency funding and Government support for self-employed people. As I said, my project with Roundhouse, Birmingham was put on hold for furlough. Other partners, The National Trust and The Canal and River Trust were also down to a skeleton staff. My courses had to be cancelled, what would be a new forward, would there be a realistic one ?

Over the last three years, I’ve been exploring digital media and new technologies, using them to respond to commissions in a new way. I’ll share more about these projects in another post no doubt, but you can see them on this sight. With a lot of YouTube support and some help from a self-taught, old friend, I’ve learned by trial and error, some elements of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. For a few years I’ve wondered about ways of reproducing my handmade mosaics, to make them more affordable, therefore available to more people. It’s amazing to have commissions to respond to, to co-create with all sorts of people, in different places, leaving these public artworks as permanent features. I’ve been very lucky, to have had enough to keep going, albeit not on a level of income most people would wish for, but hey, I have my freedom! The problem is what do you do when you don’t have any commissions ? Would the virus impact all of this and the ways I would normally work ?

Making mosaics by hand, like anything handmade, takes time, particularly if you’re making one on your own, the material costs are high too. Many people love them and they can be a stunning feature in any space, yet practical and very long-lasting A great investment in that sense, but you’d have to try making one to realise how much time goes into designing, producing and installing them, therefore this is reflected in the cost – so as much as people might want one, the cost isn’t too accessible unless you have a good budget or you make it yourself !

Still, I’m diverting ….The lockdown, I thought, was a perfect time to see if I could create some products and with no capital to speak of, print on demand seemed to be the way to go. So I uploaded some designs to RedBubble. These days, you can put almost any image on to any product, so it was an exciting prospect ! So far, I haven’t done much to promote it, it was a good process to go through and I suddenly had time available to do it, so why not ? The advantages are good in the sense that nothing is printed until purchase and someone else takes care of the customer service, deliveries etc and you just create the design. The disadvantage is that you make small royalties and unless you’re selling a lot, it seems more like pocket money than a realistic way to make a living. I’m not that keen on the look of the shop either, but for now, it’s there ! I’ve ordered some products and was pleased enough by the quality – and it’s been exciting to see my mosaics in a different form. I’ve had some kind souls buy a few too 🙂

I’m exploring and gathering samples from other print on demand suppliers now too, I’ll keep you posted, but please let me know your experience of it if you have any !