Today we're pleased to be presenting another guest post, from Gina at InkBison. I won't introduce her, as she's going to do that herself in just a moment - but do remember, if you'd like to share your experiences starting (or developing) your craft business, then get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!
A New Adventure
My name is Gina Andrews and in January 2012 I embarked on a new adventure, InkBison (unique creations in Indian ink). I love to paint in Indian ink and from my paintings I also create framed prints and greeting cards. My main focus is animals, I love the way that animals can evoke such tremendous feelings.
To Become an Artist
I have always loved drawing and painting and when I was growing up it was always my dream to become an artist. I was overjoyed when I got accepted into Art College and it was here that I first found ink and began painting mosaic cartoons. Back then all my painting was about identity (what it was and what it meant) and I would use ink on large rolls of paper to explore memories and emotions that surround them.
In 2000 I graduated from Art College with a BA in Fine Arts and soon realised it was going to be difficult to become a professional artist, with limited opportunities and the need to pay the rent taking priority. But whatever ‘career' I was doing to pay the bills I always carried on painting in my spare time and I would paint birthday cards for friends and family. However it was not until 2012 that I decided enough was enough and that it was time to be brave and share my work with the world with the launch of InkBison.
What's In A Name?
InkBison's first creation was Staffordshire, a painting that I made for my father's birthday. I fell in love with drawing animals in this style and decided I wanted to do more. As I paint in ink the “Ink” part of the name came quite quickly, but that wasn't enough. I wanted something personal, catchy and that I could turn into an illustration to become the logo. As a painter of animals Bison fits rather well, but behind the name there is a little more. My maiden name was Bisson, and when I moved from Guernsey to the mainland to study my name would often be mistaken for Bison. I became very fond of this mistake and it must of stuck with me as years later it remerged to form my company name, InkBison.
I needed somewhere to showcase the paintings and get some inventory (just in case anyone did actually want to buy any!). Luckily my web developer husband helped me in creating a website, though I must add there are lots of resources out there for setting up your own website. The website went live on 7 January 2012 with four greeting cards for sale. I had 25 cards of each printed, which I stored in a lovely cupboard in my lounge. From then on, every weekend I continued painting and adding new greeting cards to the website. This developed into producing framed prints and recently updated the website to include an artwork page.
Getting Out There
From the outset the first thing I wanted to do was a craft fair. I wanted the first-hand interaction with people. So I went on the hunt for organisers and on 9 March 2012 InkBison attended its first craft fair. It was really wonderful to meet customers and get their reaction and feedback. I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect. I read many blogs for advice; did a trial run of my stall at home on the dining table, made price signs, hemmed by table cloth, got my business cards and bags ready and read many blogs for further advice (including remember to smile and engage with people and bring a pen and paper a long). Other useful items include a calculator and bottle of water! It was also really nice to meet other crafters, sharing tips and supporting and promoting each other.
I am attending my second craft on 9 May (Guernsey Liberation Day) with a group of makers and event organisers Handmade Guernsey. I offered one of paintings for use on their promotional material and am very pleased that they accepted. I learnt some lessons from the first craft fair; displaying cards can be pretty tricky. Last time displayed a few cards on spice wracks but this time I shall also show cards in small drawers so they are easier to group and for people to flick through. Small table-top easels are great for displaying paintings and prints.
I wrote many letters and sent samples to various shops to see if they wanted to stock InkBison greeting cards, alas not many people got back to me. I was not going to be discouraged, and¬ decided I needed to go into shops with my samples and talk to the proprietors face to face. This was a brilliant idea as I now have my cards, prints and paintings with three stockists. They are lovely shops that want to support local makers and artists. They have also given me support and guidance to develop InkBison further.
Do What You Love
I am so pleased I decided to follow my heart. And for others just starting out or thinking about embarking on their own adventure; work hard, keep going, do what you love and love what you do.
Visit InkBison now!
You can learn more about Gina and her work - and see for yourself at: inkbison.com.