This week, I was lucky enough to attend a creative business workshop held by The Design Trust's Patricia van den Akker. Patricia visited us at the Vanilla Ink school, along with 20 other attending jewellers and creatives to teach us how to make more money from craft and how to run a successful creative business. Two things I had never done before. My first and only taste of a creative business so far is Vanilla Ink, where I've only been working three weeks so far. My experience of earning money from anything I had previously made was zilch. I only ever gave my artwork away for free to family and friends or to charity shops. This was due to having very little confidence in my work and zero knowledge on how to price it. Enter extremely experienced and enthusiastic Patricia van den Akker, director of The Design Trust, an online business school offering training and support to entrepreneurial creatives.
Let's face it, us creatives aren't known for being business savvy or having an easy time making a lot of money. I suppose it doesn't help when you give your work away to charity shops right enough but the majority of creatives I know who do sell their work don't earn very much from their sales. Patricia pointed out something very interesting at the beginning of the workshop. Something I had never even noticed or thought of before as an ex-art student - art schools teach you how to create, but not how to actually make a living out of being a creator. Why? I forgot to ask. Who knows? Maybe creative industry tutors have little knowledge on it themselves having also studied in institutions where the business side of an art career wasn't taught. Many of the creatives attending the workshop didn't know much on the subject either. BUT! Not any more. Patricia certainly had obtained a lot of confidence and knowledge over the years and had no problem telling us it straight. "Be realistic". "Get your head out of the sand". "MAKE time for the things you need to do". "Prince Charming isn't coming to save you". A huge thing I was guilty of in both my creative and personal life was saying "I didn't have time." When the truth was I just didn't MAKE time. Since the workshop I haven't said those untruthful words since.
As I'd never sold any work before or even been close to running my own creative business I was able to be shame free knowing I hadn't made any of the mistakes that Patricia explained most creative entrepreneurs make when running their own business. But there was also not one thing from that list of common mistakes that I know I wouldn't have done if I did try to actively sell my work pre-workshop. Post-workshop saw us all leaving with marketing plans, precise and achievable goals and whole load of motivation and confidence for the future. Thank god for The Design Trust and Patricia for doing what they do! (And of course, V.I. co-director Kate for organising the workshop and connecting us all with Patricia).
I won't lie, a lot of the workshop was way past my comprehension. (Don't tell Kate!) Only because I personally have no clue about anything business or entrepreneurial related. Hopefully that will change with the Vanilla Ink Programme starting tomorrow, yikes! Kiddin, nothing like starting a professional development programme focused on helping jewellers successfully start their own business straight off the back off an extensive two-day creative business workshop. Patricia's workshop has definitely filled me with confidence and excitement for things businessy! Roll on some intense learning and development in the next coming months through the programme.
I would recommend Patricia and The Design Trust to anyone looking to make more money from their craft and have a successful creative business. I want to see art and craft take over in this world of money, mass production and consumerism. Us creatives bloody deserve it! It's inspiring to see such successful, experienced people like Patricia share their knowledge with others for a bigger purpose than themselves. Something we creatives are good at doing in my opinion. And it was amazing to feel the change of energy and positivity at the end of the workshop from everyone too. I really hope everyone who attended the workshop achieves their goals and gets to where they want to be. Thank you to Patricia, Kate and everyone who attended. It was one valuable workshop!
Top tips from Patricia:
Pricing your work 'cheap', doesn't mean it will sell.
It's not what you do that will make a buyer interested in you, it's WHY you do it.
Be more like Marmite. It's okay if people don't like you, if others absolutely love you.