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  • Ndidi Ekubia in her studio at Cockpit Arts, Deptford. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian, © Crafts Council

Overview: Talent Development Support

Supporting makers across the UK

Crafts Council’s Talent Development Team are here to support and champion UK’s vibrant, diverse and talented makers, throughout every stage of their career path. We believe in being ambitious, taking risks and empowering makers to build a sustainable creative business, and our goal is to support you in developing, promoting and selling your best work. 

Building on over five decades of experience, we now run a variety of programmes tailored to suit you, varying in scale from one-to-one advice sessions; long term training schemes; Flourish, our biennial conference and free online resources. You can find us via social media live events, attending fairs, exhibitions, talks, and on panel discussions.

As well as championing individual makers, we support the wider sector, including galleries, studio groups, art centres, local authorities, universities and more. We share our unique industry experience, knowledge and networks, through bespoke business development workshops, talks and resources.  If you work with makers, get in touch with us about how we can work together.


Ambassadors Talent might be everywhere, but with the wide variety of events, open studios, exhibitions and showcases up and down the country, we can’t be- that’s why we’re looking for ambassadors to share what we do with networks and makers that might not have heard of us. If you are interested in becoming a Talent Development Ambassador, please Contact us

Associates - Our work is only possible through working in partnership with a wide range of external experts, ensuring that our participants benefit from wide range of industry-informed expertise. We‘re always looking for people and organisations to work with us as an expert, mentor, trainer, advisor, speaker, consultant, venue or media partner as one of our Crafts Council Associates please sign up here  Partner with us

Hothouse Crafts Council’s national programme of creative and business development, tailored to the needs of diverse, ambitious and talented emerging makers. Established in 2011, this flagship programme is delivered with a varied network of leading UK craft and design organisations. We’ve provided the next generation of creatives with the tools to grow a sustainable and successful business and build professional networks when they are needed most, at the start of their career.

Flourish A two-day biennial conference presented by the Crafts Council to ignite your creative business ambitions.  It was a chance for professional makers to share, debate and network, and to go home with a set of action points, resources, and links to help cultivate and shape their creative practice. 

One to one advice sessions  One to one advice sessions Our bespoke sessions with one of our Talent Development Managers include an hour-long face to face (or via Skype) and a half-hour follow up call. Tailored to makers' needs and fully confidential, these sessions are for makers to discuss ideas or concerns about their creative practice.  Please note that from May 2019 prices of these sessions will be increasing 

Workshops and collaborations - We continue to offer a range of business development workshops and masterclasses across the UK, covering a wide range of topics to enable creative businesses to flourish. Talk to us if you wish to cultivate our expertise in your area. (Click here to view examples of our workshops services)


Our free online resources include templates, toolkits, top tips and maker case studies, and are designed to make life easier for makers. Whether you’re just starting out, need advice on international exporting or details of the latest government legislation, these resources can help your business development requirements. Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Get in touch.

Crafts Council International Export Toolkit, Funded by Department of International Trade

Working internationally can open up many opportunities for business and creative growth and enable you to develop your creative practice. Crafts Council have sourced funding from the Department of International Trade (DIT) to create a timely and vital resource: The International Export Toolkit.  We have compiled information on logistics; a how to guide; international events; case studies of makers experiences developing their practice overseas and films of discussions with industry advisors and makers on the top tips to help you make exporting a reality.

Maker Stories - Craft expertise Project Podcasts

Dr Karen Patel of Birmingham City University is working with the Crafts Council to help us strengthen our commitment to diversity. Karen introduces the Maker Stories podcast series in which she interviews inspirational crafts women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Karen’s first project with us, Supporting Diversity in Craft Practice, examined the creative drivers and some of the challenges facing black and minority ethnic women makers in the UK. You can find the project report here and the Maker Stories podcast here.


Top Tips on Art Design and Craft Fairs

Trade, art, design and craft fairs: Top Tips

Fairs can be a great way to have direct contact with buyers, they vary in scale and standard of work. They can be seasonal or regularly programmed, such as the Canopy Market at Kings Cross. Here are some top tips for things to consider when applying to or taking part in fairs.

• First Top Tip from all three of our contributors: Good Images are essential

Top Tips from Margaret Bunn, British Craft Trade Fair (BCTF)
See table below for examples of trade fairs, retail fairs or fairs that represent both. 

TOP Drawer/ CRAFT Trade https://www.topdrawer.co.uk/
Ceramic Art London


BCTF  Trade https://bctf.co.uk/
Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey Retail https://www.craftfestival.co.uk/
New Designers Both https://www.newdesigners.com/
International Jewellery Fair Trade  https://www.jewellerylondon.com/
London Design Festival Both https://www.londondesignfestival.com/
Handmade in Britain Retail https://www.handmadeinbritain.co.uk/

The differences in buyers at Trade and at Retail fairs:

Trade: the buyer is looking for what they can sell (e.g. galleries, gift shops, department stores, lifestyle shops, museums etc.)
Retail: the buyer is looking for what they like/love (collectors, art lovers)

Note: many galleries and other retail stores do look for potential talent at retail fairs as well as trade fairs.

Both retail and trade fairs should be considered in your marketing strategy; they are promotional opportunities to build up your client base.

Top Tips for taking part in both retail and trade fairs:

• The work cannot sell itself; you need to engage with your audience
• Avoid sitting, or if you need to sit, have a high stool, so you look approachable and engaging to your audience.
• Be prepared to smile all day, fairs are exhausting as you are on the shop front from start to finish and days can be very long.
• Have help to set up and take down to help preserve your energy for the main event.
• Be prepared and presentable, first impressions last.
• Be competitive with your pricing.
• Make the most of the publicity opportunities; read all the information you are sent thoroughly, and make sure you action all points required.

Top Tips for Trade fairs:

• Come prepared with your trade price list AND your RRP (recommended retail price) lists.
• It is worth guiding or making suggestions to trade buyers, remember it is your business you are negotiating for.
• If your products are one-off designs, it is recommended that you make a range of work when dealing with trade, to encourage a buyer to commit to purchasing a collection.
• When working out your trade prices, first work out your costs + profit; which equals your wholesale / trade price that gives you a competitive RRP. Trade price is normally between 50% and 70% of RRP.

Top Tips from Lynne Hutchinson, ceramicist based in Newcastle:

• Take advantage of all the pre-show opportunities and read through all the paperwork, if there is anything you don’t understand, ask.
• Take responsibility for yourself from the moment you apply right through to following up contacts after the show. For example, CRAFT rely on makers downloading their own images to the CRAFT website, many makers assume if they have submitted their images they do not need to take any further action and as a result miss out on pre-show promotion.
• Decide on whether you are willing to offer Sale or Return (SOR). 

• Research, Research, Research:

  1.  Find out about the reputation of the show from other exhibitors. 
  2. Visit the show before you decide to take part.
  3. Look at the online presence of the show and look at how they promote the show and its makers.

Top Tips from Stuart Ackroyd, glass artist based in Nottingham

When Applying

• Most have small admin fees to apply with no guarantee of place.
• Have an up to date CV and statement ready, most have a selection policy.
• Keep copies of your applications for following years (if online take screenshots).
• It’s worth taking the time to apply properly.

Taking part

• Learn from past successes and mistakes with your set up design, I am constantly looking to improve.
• Create your stand to actual size in studio / home. Photograph it so you have a record to use during set up.
• Spend the time experimenting before rather than during set up time.
• Create a display for your target audience.
• Invest in lights / decent display furniture.
• Incorporate storage space on the stand (especially at retail fairs for re-stocking).
• Shipping the stand – UK / Europe a self-drive van; or Europe / Global it is worth shipping a pallet / crate, which requires working in advance.
• Read the exhibition manual / order electrics on early bird rate etc.

At the fair

• Learn where to be economical.
• Fair refreshments are not cheap, take flasks and packed lunches.
• Plan travel and accommodation well in advance – share if possible.

You can now download our guide here

Approach and work with galleries

The first step in finding the right gallery
  •  Understanding your target audience will help you aim for the right gallery
  • Research is really important – are they the right gallery for you? Do you fit within their price range? How far you are prepared to travel to deliver your work or spend to send your work.  The type of gallery (questions to consider) – applied arts: craft; fine art; sculpture; venue for hire; are they open to proposals; who do they represent; what is their set up

How do we recommend people to approach galleries?

  • Contact gallery first – find out how to apply and who to apply to
  • The personal touch – how can you make your application stand out from others? Is it clear, concise, memorable, informative and has all the right information?
  • Do not just walk in with your work! * Have a professional looking web presence to back up your application – if you present yourself in a professional manner; others will treat you as a professional. A website does not have to be complicated; just easy to navigate; easy to follow relevant gallery page; links; about and contact pages.
  • What to send:
  1. Covering letter
  2. Relevant CV with your contact details
  3. Statement about your practice * Price list to show relevance to the gallery applying to
  4. Five Good images, jpeg, image captions, under 1MB each
  5. Link to your website to provide additional reference to your practice

What should artists and makers expect when working with galleries

  • Have a chat about contracts, commission rates, price lists, delivery, SOR(Sale of Return)/Wholesale, and who is responsible for logistics – do not assume
  • What to avoid e.g. some galleries won’t use your branded packaging so don’t waste it when it won’t be used.
  • Provide display/handling/packaging instructions – don’t assume gallery staff know how to handle your work in the way you want it handled.  
  • Make sure you know when your work will be displayed; for how long; when you can expect to be paid for a sale and whether this is a trial period or longer term representation of your work.
  • Make sure you ask how your work will be promoted and what do you need to provide the gallery and by when. Is there any additional promotion you can do to help promote your work?
  • Remember, this is a two way working relationship; try and see it from a gallery’s point of view and do not undercut pricing outside of the gallery

Preparing your pricing

Galleries will take at least one of the following fees: commission/hanging fees/rental fees. If you are not sure about your pricing, it is worth asking. However, remember when creating your prices include your overheads, your direct costs, your time and your profit to work out the wholesale/artists price; then recommended retail price (RRP) will be the commission on top. This will then be the sale price of your work (RRP)

You can now download our guide here

Top Tips on Pricing your Work

Where to start?

Your pricing model is based on what you do and how you do it.  This is traditional formula when pricing a product or piece of work

Pricing of a necklace example:

How do you work out your overheads?

These are costs associated to your business but not direct to one product or piece of work

1. Administration costs – the time you spend doing research, correspondence, working on logistics
2. Fixed costs – insurance, electricity, rent
3. Marketing costs – website, exhibiting, showing at fairs, paid adverts, printed resources, campaigns 

How do you work out your hourly rate? 

This is based on how much time you can dedicate to your business and in principal how much you need to earn from your busines

1. How much time can you dedicate to your creative business per week on average? Hours. Days?
2. How much do you need to earn from your creative business? If you have a part time job to support your practice, then your approach would differ from someone aiming to earn a full-time salary from their practice.
3. Do you earn solely from your making? Or are there other areas you can generate money? 

How to you value your work?

Pricing can be based on a simple formula, though sometimes the final price is not that simple. Here are some things you should consider:

• Research into the markets you are aiming to sell your work and do your prices compare well, are they competitive? 
• Include profit, no matter how small the percentage. The profit you earn is the money you can put back into your business, build up and invest in new equipment, training or simply contribution to your time off.
• When working out how many days you can dedicate to your business, base this on 48 weeks a year not 52, as you need to factor in time off for holiday or illness.
• Markets – a marketplace is somewhere to sell, this could be a gallery, a craft fair, an online shop such as Etsy; your own ecommerce website
• Competitive – research into markets and try to have your prices similar to others. Are your prices similar or much more expensive or much cheaper than the other work you are aiming to show alongside?
• If they are much cheaper or much more expensive then this is not the right market for you
• If your prices are much higher than your competitor, can you produce the work at a lower cost?
• If not and the work is still too expensive is this work viable product to sell? 

Tips when pricing your work and earning money from your business

• Everyone differs in their opinion of value – You are producing work for a luxury market, it might have function, it might not, but in the craft world you are not producing essential items. Your products should be focused for specific audience/market, do not consider whether you can afford your product, remember you are aiming your product at people with disposable income and a desire to invest on one off, bespoke and handmade objects/products. So be realistic about your pricing.
• You cannot plan without data – You need to do your research, this means market research into material costs, production costs, market value, distribution costs and running costs. We recommend you get into the habit of recording everything even the time it takes to produce your work.
• Be finance savvy – Research and learn financial key words and their meaning, for example operating costs, overheads, net profit, gross profit
• Be SMART – Set yourself Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound objectives. When planning the work you want to produce and sell, create a SMART plan around it; how long it takes to make, who are your potential buyers and how can you reach them, have you considered how you are going to promote the work, present it, package it and how much time you need to do all of these things with your other commitments.
• Work out a plan; start with what it is, factor in the logistics of making the plan happen and the best way to ensure you achieve this is to plan backwards; for example, if you wanted to sell at a Christmas fair, plot in the details of what you need to do each month; did you realise it takes longer than anticipated?
• How to manage your finances – Look into online accounting software, this will help you manage your cash flows, your budgets, your invoicing and keep an eye on your costs. Make sure you regularly check the accounts. A lot of online accounting software has been set up to support sole traders or small enterprises.
• Working out your overheads – What does it cost you per month and per year to run your business? Some are obvious and easy to calculate for example: training costs, membership costs. Some are not so obvious: your electricity costs if working from home. Look at HMRC on gov.uk for how to calculate your % business costs.

You can now download our guide here

Top Tips on photographing craft

Photographing Craft
  1. It is essential to have high quality images of your work to be competitive in your applications whether to fairs, galleries, open competitions, grant applications or awards
  2. 50% of all good photography is editing
  3. Relying on Smartphone or digital tablet for your photography does limit your photographing capabilities

Top Tips

  1.  It is worth investing in commissioning a professional photographer for a selection of your work
  2. If you feel confident in taking photographs yourself, it is worth taking the time to experiment with a set up that suits your work and the outcomes you need.
  3. It is not always possible to photograph a commission when it is in situ, be mindful of this, you need to provide evidence of your portfolio, factor in time to document and photograph your finished work before delivery
  4. Make sure all your images have the correct image captions for any submissions (to fairs, media, galleries, competitions, awards, for clients). For example ‘title, size in cm, medium, by xxx, image credit’
  5. For shiny reflective surfaces
    Use as much light as possible. But diffuse the light
    For smaller items it is worth placing work on light box
  6. For matt surfaces
    Use spot lights to enhance the colour
  7. For large scale work
    Factor into your budget the photography of a large piece especially commissioned work.

To enhance your brand

Don’t just stick to product photography; enhance your brand (story telling) with:

  • Profile image – professional studio shot of you and making shot of you at work
  • Lifestyle image – your work in an environment or space that helps tell your story
  • Commercial enhancing – your work in an environment that helps your target customer visualise the work in a specific setting
  • Making images – audiences like to know more about the making and the maker behind the making
  • Detail images – close up images of your work enhances the skill, materials and techniques behind your practice.

Recommendations from Anne Purkiss, collection and portrait photographer:

  1. If possible, use manual settings
  2. Always shoot at the largest file size, ideally in RAW format (you can downsize later, but you cannot increase the file size, i.e. add information that hasn’t been recorded initially)
  3. Give yourself as much light as possible, this allows for a small aperture which gives greater depth of field (alternative: focus stacking)
  4. Try to use daylight calibrated lamps (c. 5000 K), flash lights are usually calibrated as ‘daylight’
  5. Control the light sources not only by changing the direction of the lights but also by varying the light output
  6. Use reflectors, or reflective surfaces to lighten shadows.
  7. Try also to light the surface or background of the object from behind.
  8. Reduce highlights and ‘bleached out’ areas by diffusing light with softboxes or diffusers in front of the lamps, or by ‘bouncing’ light off white surfaces.
  9. Try also to use black cards or paper to reduce reflections.
  10. You can reduce reflections by using a polarisation filter.

Recommended list of tools for basic set up

  • Tripod,
  • lights (daylight temperature c.5000K)
  • diffuser (soft box), reflector
  • white paper (background and for ‘bouncing’ light), black paper (for reducing reflections),
  • colour card (greycard),
  • polarisation filter,
  • sticky tape, scissors, Bluetack, gloves for handling

You can now download our guide here

Top Tips on guidance on submitting images for applications

To have a chance at being successful with your application - whether to a gallery, an open call exhibition, a grant application or an online membership application; you need good quality images that show your work to its full potential.

Be selective in what you submit, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. If an image is out of focus; has bad lighting; distorted or has distracting items in the background; you are not allowing yourself to demonstrate your works full potential and may risk not being selected. 


  • Prepare images first…. Saved as: image captions ‘title, by……., medium, size in cm, format, linked to, image credits’
  • Worth considering paying for a professional photographer
  • Consider portrait profile image to go alongside your submission
  • If you have been asked for up to 5 images but you only have 3 good images, we recommend you only submit the three
  1. If you are taking your own images, consider
  2. lighting (natural daylight)
  3. an infinity horizon
  4. a plain background
  5. having the work at eye level
  6. do not use flash
  • If selectors like your work, they will look to your website for additional images and information. Have a professional looking web presence to back up your application – if you present yourself in a professional manor; others will treat you as a professional. A website does not have to be complicated; just easy to navigate; easy to follow relevant gallery page; links; about and contact pages.

For more tips on Photographing Craft or how to approach galleries; look to the Crafts Council Talent Development pages for these resources.

You can now download our guide here.

Top Tips on using social media

Here we share some tips on using social media :

  • Films - in a partnership with Birmingham City University and the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, we’ve been working with Dr Karen Patel to explore how diverse makers use social media to support craft practice. (You can read more about the research project on our research pages) Following a series of interviews and workshops, Karen produced these films. 
  • Tusheeta David is a jewellery designer maker based in Birmingham. Tusheeta describes her journey from jewellery designer to maker, and the role of her Indian heritage and family on her career and practice. Tusheeta shares her social media strategies for promoting work online.
  • Arati Devasher is a hand painted silk designer based in London. In this video Arati talks about her maker journey, including the influence of her Indian heritage on her practice. She also shares her social media tips and her advice for aspiring makers. 
  • Top tips – read below Karen’s top tips plus some we produced in an earlier Crafts Council report. Now dated in its figures, it still contains useful advice.

Top Tips on using social media

Not sure where to start with social media? Here are some top tips from makers who participated in a research project with Birmingham City University on diversity and social media use in craft.

1. Establish your objectives.

What do you want to achieve from your social media use? Sales? Make friends? Have an online presence? It is important to plan and set milestones for what you want to do on social media.

2. Choose your platforms wisely.

You don’t need to join everything. For many makers Instagram is a must for sharing images of their work, work in progress and what inspires them. Facebook and LinkedIn can be good for joining groups and communities, to share tips and gain advice. To start with, pick one platform and do that really well, then join other platforms later on once you are confident.

3. Plan your posts.

Planning can take a lot of the pressure off keeping your online presence up to date. You can use platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your social media posts. Try and create different types of posts – for example work in progress, links to buy your work, humour, aspects of your day, and what inspires you.

4. Find other makers and share their work.

On Instagram and Twitter search for maker-related hashtags such as #handmadeUK and #handmadehour and other hashtags related to your practice. Find makers and work you admire and share their work on your own profile. They may return the favour, which can help you grow your following online.

5. Find communities and build safe spaces online.

If you don’t want to share your work with the world straightaway, find groups and communities on social media where makers share ideas and support each other. An example is #BAMECraftUK developed during this project, look it up on Twitter and join in the conversation.

You can now download our guide here.


Case study on how to develop a brand

Nitin Goyal  shares his experience of developing a brand.

My design journey started all the way from my childhood, I was always surrounded by gorgeous fabrics and textiles, craftwork and incredible artisans who could make magical things by hand. Always keen on fashion & textiles, I enrolled myself to study BA Fashion & Textiles and after completing my MA at NTU I decided to launch my own brand for fashion & interior textiles. From the very humble beginnings, we have now grown to be an international brand selling in over 80 stores worldwide including top design stores including Selfridges / Heals / The Conran Shop/ Le Bon Marche / Lane Crawford / Barneys / Saks Fifth Avenue / Design Museum / V & A Museum / Galleries Lafayette and many more worldwide.

From the very start, I knew that to be a successful business it is vitally important to have the right presence in the industry and to attaché “brand” value to your work and practice. This is what identifies ones work; gives each a unique identity within the industry and with clients, end consumers, press and the world at large, making a “brand identity” is key to having a successful business.

A good brand can be achieved by identifying your beliefs, principles, key messages and setting out quite early on what you stand for. It is also important that you identify core values for your business and brand, and that they always resonate with your passions and beliefs. Defining and understanding these helps you keep focus and leads to growth.

For our business, we established our core values, mission and beliefs at a very early stage. We laid out our short and long term plans and goals and different ways to achieve these. This was then combined with a well-researched and strategic business plan for 3 and 5 years and listing out the key action plans. Having experimented with various directions we finally went with what we felt most passionate about and then channelled these beliefs into creating a strong brand identity that was consistent throughout the process of concept, development, product, marketing and selling. We ensured our brand identity was clear, consistent and easily identifiable in any social media channels / showcases and presentations and any other promotional activities we undertook from trade shows to press packs. Everything we did followed the same ‘clear’ and ‘keep it simple’ principle.

Identifying and maintaining the brand identity is really key and has a massive positive impact on sales and business growth. People identify the practice and body of work with your brand and so does the industry, retail stores, galleries and customers. As a unique practice you could also become a market leader with a strong branding.

We always get a lot of press and bespoke project requests whenever it is related to pleating, smocking or hand printing and that is brilliant as then you know that your brand is working for your business and the investment is paying off.

It is always helpful to have a clear marketing plan as this ensures brand growth and that you are taking actions constantly to increase your brand visibility. The actual plan would depend on your personal and business goals but it is vital to have one in place both for short and long term. Ensure you list out key action plans and act on them. In terms of time and money; be realistic in what you can achieve in comparison to your long term goals and ambitions. What finances can you align to your plan now; do you need to make adjustments to your plan? Set short term goals as well as the long term. I would suggest budget for 15-20 %of your annual budget for marketing and brand investment. In present times, we have plenty of free channels to promote and engage customers so make sure that you are taking advantage of these efficiently.

My top advice is stay focussed at all times; be strong about your mission statement and objectives and know what you can and can't do and what you want and do not want to engage with. This helps you prioritise and focus on key important areas.

My other tip is to keep branding simple, this provides clarity and recognition. Simplicity in brand logos / images / marketing materials / show display layouts / online store layouts provide swift public engagement leading to easily recognisable branding. One thing; if I were to start it all over again, I would stay away from would be “to give your own name to your brand!” Although popular by choice as this connects and extends you and your practice to the business, the downside is that in the digital age we currently live in, this could also be inappropriate at times or lead to even damaging of the brand reputation. The last thing you want is for potential customers to google your brand name and find your personal images or personal social media accounts that are not connected with your practice and may not always be in sync with the brand image you want to portray. Speaking from my own experience if you google image us you may find many random images of personal nature and more so many other people with the same name! Which is not always brand- friendly. If I had a second chance I would definitely name it different and simple with a clear focus and meaning.

Finally; believe in what you are doing and don't be afraid to make mistakes, be ready to adapt and do ask for help. We have a great community of fellow designers and business communities locally, nationally and internationally along with various art and craft organisations that would support, guide and help you achieve your ambitions.

Good luck All.

You can now download our guide here.

Case study on how to be successful with applications

Rita Parniczky shares her experience of writing applications.

In this case study I reveal strategies I have adopted in order to make my name in sculptural textiles highlighting some achievements and showing how they link up shaping my present and future.

As a visual artist I work in mixed media exploring the interaction between structure and light, and investigating ideas based on materiality, change, time and human experience.

After setting up my practice I quickly learnt that having great work is important however it is only the beginning of a long process of making it as an artist. Graduates often think that opportunities are going to find them however, the reality of the working lives of artists is that we have to spend quite a chunk of time, especially at the beginning, on finding ways to get noticed. What works for each of us is not taught at university but through experience and self-motivated trial-and-error runs over time.

I had to become active at working in different ways which would include mixing strategic plans with listening to my instincts, both equally important. As a start, I had to develop my woven sculptural work X-Ray Series; originally my graduate project at Central Saint Martins; into a portfolio of comprehensive works that enabled me to introduce my practice to arts professionals and organisations, and apply for various opportunities such as awards and grants.

I also spent time with identifying where I wanted to get to; my vision for my career. It is something we should revisit during our career, as it often changes to some degree. Without knowing where we are heading we won’t know which map will take us there. I put together a list of names, places of interest and projects, and did an in-depth research on these.

The result helped me to form an action-plan that would include signing up and regularly visiting on-line platforms which share opportunities such as Crafts Council, Arts Council and a-n; joining meetings and development programmes for start-ups, for example Hothouse and London Creative Network; going to talks and conferences and even connecting with professionals via social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and now Instagram. As for connecting with individuals, knowing that people receive many emails; I had to find more effective ways to introduce my work and an invitation to my studio proved to be a successful way of making my work memorable. What I learnt from these activities is there might not be an instant result, and being flexible and resourceful helps to recognise new opportunities that may lead onto future successes. I found I had to simultaneously work on different ideas to get noticed: I did not think that there was one particular way to get what I wanted to achieve and waiting on results from one completed task was not a good idea to follow.

In my case, some of these connections I made during this time resulted in being nominated for awards later on, and they would have not come my way had my nominators not been familiar with my work. These nominations, at a critical time early on in my career showing recognition of my work boosted my confidence and encouraged me to go further and do more. The first nomination I received was for the Arts Foundation Fellowship. It became a mile stone in my career as I never completed an extensive application such as this before and I had to learn a new skill of writing applications and proposals.

As an artist and being visual writing is a challenge for me. My advice to like-minded people is to face this challenge and find help to overcome it: for me, it was becoming a member of Cockpit Arts and working with Madeleine Furness, Business Development Manager. Madeleine and I would work on applications together; she taught me simple rules and tricks, and encouraged that part of my brain which did not believe could write well-enough. This activity, as manytakes time but I noticed a definite development including a refined verbal communication of my work: I understood that it does not matter if it is writtenoor spoken word it is me who can best express what the work is about since I am the creator. I only need to spend time with bringing together words that explain my ideas best and learn to insert them into a statement in a simple and clear way.

Although having been nominated for a number of awards meant I had to learn something quite complex, something that I tried to avoid, it taught me difficulties can be solved by taking the first step in looking for help. This means that instead of feeling stressed out and stuck I developed the skill to find help and resources. On the whole, it outlined a future of writing successful proposals and funding

applications opening my practice up to a whole new spectrum of possibilities for developing my work and building a solid reputation in the arts.

In between applications or projects, there is often some quiet time which I learnt is highly beneficial to my practice: it is when I can evaluate my progress and readjust if needed, reassess and develop new work, and find new opportunities or undertake development programmes or activities. Without using quiet times to my advantage, I would not have had the body of work to access when I was approached by museums or events to exhibit existing works or when my first solo exhibition was curated as a result of winning an art prize. In this sense, some works I make are for a specific project with an existing location while some others are selected for locations some time after completion. These works often move my practice to its next phase and keep me prepared when there is no physical time to make new work at a short notice of a call-out.

When I was nominated for the above mentioned art prize, the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize it took me by surprise; just as any time something like this happens; yet it was a result from my own activities. The nomination was made by textile artist Alice Kettle who was my mentor on the Crafts Council’s development programme Hothouse. Although I did not know Alice was to be one of the nominators for the Prize, and therefore we cannot directly manipulate our future but being actively around and available, and undertaking steps that serve our practice is key to stay in plain sight.

Today, with my experience I work as a visiting lecturer giving professional practice talks and tutorials; I mentor graduates and start-ups passing on my knowledge; lead workshops for colleges, events and in my studio; and am invited to conferences internationally to give artist talks. X-Ray Series has received a number of awards and is a part of the permanent collection at the V&A Museum; photographic work X-Ray Film Series is joining an art collection in 2018. These are results of strategic work, constant renewal of oneself i.e. not giving up but finding new ways to achieve my goals while evaluating my progress.

You can now download our guide here.

Case Study on overseas trade show

Sally Burnett shares her experience of doing an overseas trade show for the first time, April 2018.

In this case study I reveal strategies I have adopted in order to make my name in sculptural textiles highlighting some achievements and showing how they link up shaping my present and future.

I am now in my third year of creative practice making luxury vessels in wood. I tried direct selling shows with mixed results and as my work got larger in size, I realised that architects and interior designers were my target audience.

I enjoy and can be passionate when talking about my work but I am not confident in “cold calling” situations. Approaching individual designers also takes time. The solution was a trade show but which one?

Where do others selling to your target audience exhibit? Talk to fellow makers and get their feedback. Our colleagues are a huge and generous resource of experience and knowledge. Once you have narrowed it down, go and visit the show. Talk to the makers exhibiting there. Walk the halls, which one best matches your product? Contact the organisers and research their website. They are usually keen to provide the footfall, buyer type and countries attending statistics. Talk to your target audience if you can – where do they look for new and innovative products?

Now that you have narrowed down your preferred shows, do your sums. This can be an expensive undertaking with no guarantee of success. Check if there are any grants available for your choice of show. There are TAP (Tradeshow Access Programme) government grants available for specific shows, often administered by other organisations. The Department of International Trade can offer advice (DIT www.gov.uk) and the British European Design Group (BEDG) currently administer the grant for Maison et Objet (Paris), after administration costs it is £800.

You will need proof that you have been accepted as an exhibitor for the trade show, in my case Maison et Objet Paris, before applying for a TAP grant and once a grant is agreed, it will not be payable until after the show.

Other funding may be available and a good source of information and support is your local Chamber of Commerce. They can also provide help with export documentation and shipping, translations and cheaper currency payments. Read the small print carefully. Some grants require that funding is secured before any show costs have been paid, so you need to plan well in advance and other grants may be matched funding with upper and or lower limits.

When I did my research visit to Maison et Objet in September 2017, I walked into the CRAFT Hall and just knew that this was where I wanted my work to be. There were no other UK makers exhibiting so the chances were that I would be there alone with my very basic school French. ‘OMG’, pause but don’t give up now. Look around to see if any other UK organisations have a group stand that you could be part of. BEDG have such a stand at Maison et Objet and so the easy option would have been to exhibit with them but why invest time and money to be in the wrong Hall? Location can be very important so BE BRAVE.

As you walk around the show start thinking about stand design. What is the “look” of the show and how could your work fit with this? Are you shipping your work and stand furniture or packing it all in your car or van? For me, Maison et Objet was only possible financially if everything fitted into the car, including my plinths, so they all needed to be flat packed and light. Look at the available light in the Hall, how many spots do you think that you may need?

Most shows have an application process but for Maison et Objet CRAFT there is a particularly rigorous pre-application process. The form can be found on the Maison et Objet website - please note that both the process and forms for CRAFT are quite separate from the forms for the other Halls at the show.

If you are successful with this pre-application, then you will be invited to apply for a stand at the exhibition. Maison et Objet is on twice a year, which one is best for you? Ask other exhibitors, do they do both or just one? Is the visitor profile the same?

Now that you have been accepted, what do you need to consider? What literature will you need? Have you a pricing structure in place that can cope with retail, gallery, trade and public prices? Should you price in GBP, Euros or both? Are your Terms and Conditions robust enough for dealing with non UK companies? Do you have quality high res pictures?

The Maison et Objet exhibition catalogue is in both English and French so take the time to complete your free listing as soon as possible. I received requests for information from potential buyers, via this online resource, four weeks before the start of the exhibition and they were still coming in two months afterwards.

If you speak French then attending an exhibition in France will not be daunting. If like me you are a little nervous as your French is not great, write down key short phrases about your work, translate them into French and learn them. Most visitors speak English but making that initial contact in French is really appreciated. 

Most visitors are happy to receive price lists and other information by email so take details and keep notes. This greatly reduces your print costs and permits you to supply information in the most relevant currency as well as securing important contact details.

Exhibition hours are long and exhausting but take the time every evening to send the emails out to the buyers that you met that day. Many will be there for several days so may well return to your stand.

Outcomes – be realistic with your expectations. Know the limit of your production and agree to realistic deadlines. If you receive no orders at the show do not consider this a failure. Buyers want reliable, professional makers and seeing you there more than once gives them confidence. So be prepared to invest in this show for 3 years before you see positive returns.

Finally a couple of do’s and don’ts: 

  • Do make your stand as eye catching as possible and remember that less is more.
  • Do as much planning and preparation as you can.
  • Do build up your stock before the exhibition.
  • Don’t struggle alone; if you need help at the show just ask as everyone wants your stand to be the best that it can be.
  • Don’t arrive at the show exhausted, plan your time well.

Above all, enjoy the experience – at the very least you will come away with many new friends and some great contacts.

You can now download our guide here.

Top tips for the year

Record Data

Documenting information on your business operation will help you plan short and long term and compare progress year on year e.g.

• Associated costs to your practice
• Time to produce a new design
• Potential marketing opportunities and selling outlets.


Remember your brand is what people say about you and your business when you are not in the room. Focus on two crucial points:

• Your story (who you are and what you make)
• Your target audience (who will buy and sell your product).

Pricing Right

So many artists and makers do not include profit when working out their artist (wholesale) price; without profit your business cannot sustain or grow.
Costs (overheads + materials + time) x 2 (your profit) = wholesale price x 2.5 = RRP (recommended retail price).
Overheads = all operating costs for your business except materials, such as rent, equipment or business cards.

Take Good Photos

Good images are crucial for presenting your creative practice. Three basic rules:

• Keep background plain and consistent
• Introduce scale such as props or models
• Include image captions.

Target The Right Markets

(e.g. galleries; retailers or online) to reach your audience.
• Are you presenting your brand in line with the outlet you have chosen?
• Are your prices competitive?
• Research first and ideally visit before applying

Have An Online Presence

Your online profile is your digital business card.
• Do not overcrowd it with irrelevant information
• Create a simple and professional profile for selectors, journalists and e-commerce.

Plan Backwards

Good event project management is all about planning backwards. Set a date and plot what needs to be done and when.

Sign Up To An Event

Having a deadline to work towards whether it’s a training event; selling opportunity or networking event, can help keep you focused and motivated.

Keep A Paper Trail

Whether considering IP (Intellectual Property) or contracts;
• Date your images
• Follow up face to face or phone conversations with an email
• Keep copies of correspondence.

Broaden Your Connections

Follow; tweet; attend; chat!
• Get to know those that talk and influence decisions in the marketplace
• Don’t forget other makers; learn from their experiences and career pathway

You Don’t Have To Say Yes To Everything

It is hard to say no to opportunities when they come along, especially when starting out. If unsure, take time to think and look back at goals.
• Will it benefit your business growth or your creative development?
• If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it often is!

Want To Be Noticed? Think Outside The Box

Whether considering IP (Intellectual Property) or contracts;
• Think of creative ways you can entice your target audience to choose you over another maker?
• Work with fellow makers or industry experts to help you overcome a creative or business block.

You can now download our guide here.

Other Crafts Council offers relevant to makers’ creative business development

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