Monday, 20 February 2012

If It Feels Good, Do It!

I can't believe that less than 3 weeks ago, this wasn't even in my head!

I've been a full time, calligrapher and lettering artist since 1988 and have had a studio and workshop since 1999. Somehow, I've managed to bumble my way through, paying rent, rates and a variety of utility bills... it's only when you look back you realise what an achievement it has been, and if someone had told me 13 years ago that it would work and I would still be here, I probably wouldn't have believed them, or never even started!

I thought, back them, that I would give it a go and enjoy it while it lasted, never in my wildest dreams did I actually think it would!

My business has seen many changes. With the advent of computers and home printers, came a huge dip in the need for hand lettering. Myself and other calligraphers had to find new ways of using out lettering... but there are still many things that computers cannot do and where our skills are still needed,. Memorial books and formal certificates, just two examples. Sadly, it's a dying art and no-one seems to be interested in training any more. The ones who have attended night classes and further education to learn the art of lettering, have very little if any, interest in actually doing anything with it, other than for their own personal what happens in the future is anyone guess.

My own personal experience is, that I am getting less and less work of that kind and the few jobs I get are hardly worth picking the pen up for. People just don't seem to understand that it takes time to hand letter anything. They equate half a dozen words taking the same time as writing them out in biro....which just isn't true.

Most of my friends have started to specialise. Passing over the smaller jobs for the more gritty, specialist work, that actually brings in Logo design and book jacket covers.

Gone is the artwork, gone are the canvases

I have had to make a huge leap of faith and follow the direction the universe seems to be kicking me into....and that is the one of Weddings, Babies and personalised gifts. For the last 6 months or so, it's been Weddings, Weddings, Weddings all the way and the studio has had a huge makeover to accommodate this.

Gone are the canvases, gone is the art work and gone are the little framed pieces that took up so much wall space and served very little purpose except to showcase my work. And WOW! What a difference!

The Gallery from the left, with is rather startling Forest Fruits paint work. It became apparent once we removed the art, that the walls were just a little bit too insipid for mainly white or off-white goods...a little dramatic I thought when I bought the paint....but once the shelving was back in, I was over the moon with the look and feel of the place.

This is the Gallery from the right. Gone are the obstructive middle stands which held cards and prints as well as original pieces and with more wall space a chance to show off things more effectively......
much better.

There's a shelf for viewing my portfolio of designs, concertina books and a few Wedding cards.

Next to that stands a shelf for Wedding Favours, table number cards and other associated ephemera

Then there's a shelf full of leaflets from other local Wedding suppliers, Wedding Albums and guest books that I make to order.

The Baby section looks far more comfortable in it's own little place and available items can be more easily seen.

There's also a shelf, for items called 'It's all about LOVE!' Love hearts, books and other hearty, lovey-dovey kind of things.... this section will grow as the weeks pass by...I've lots of ideas here! Oh, and this picture was inserted in the blog post prior to me writing it....and it's a pain to try and change this one is BEFORE the wall paining .

The lack of contrast behind the word LOVE was noted AFTER I took this picture and one of the main reasons it became apparent the walls had to go!

And of course....this blog post would not be complete without mentioning my wonderful 'other half' (aka - Steve Smith) Kiln fired, dichroic, glass jewellery..... which make ideal presents for lovely ladies....they also make great, affordable bridesmaid gifts too!

Oh.....and he's just made something for the men too

And of course there's still a full wall of concertina cards, little
books, fairy doors and all sorts of other goodies!

And the wonderful display stand made by my man,

set the Wedding Stationery off a treat!

So, lots of changes, but in other ways, still lots the same. It was wonderful walking in to the shop feels cozier and warmer and somehow I feel more focused.

Other plans are to open on a Saturday and close on a Monday as so many brides and grooms work these days, I need to be available for them and free at a time when it suits them. Steve can also use the studio time as his work flies off the shelf and having to work 4 days a week to keep the wolves from our door, means he has to fit everything he needs to do in one precious day.

I and a couple of friends are also working on a large business project. Something that has been needed for a long time....and again it involves Wedding and Brides.... but for now I'm keeping quiet, until we are ready to watch this space :o) will work out better all round.

Making our customers happy, makes us happy.

Win, win, I would say :o)

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