Writing Your Artist’s Statement

Our new application process requires a bit more information than previously so here’s a guide of how to write your “artist’s statement”.  It’s nothing to worry about, we promise.  Applications open on the 1st April, so if you’ve never written an artist’s statement before, you can get a head start this coming week!

Your Statement

We know most people hate writing ‘artist statements’.  Often, the ones displayed in galleries and universities make as much sense to the average viewer as if it was written in Klingon.  And if you don’t even think of yourself as an ‘artist’ how do you even start?

If your application is successful, we’ll use your statement in our publicity for the fair, so do make sure you are happy with it and it says what you want to say about your work.

An artist statement should give the viewer or customer a bit of background to your work.  It should say the sort of thing you might talk about with a customer who asks about your work at your stall. Here’s a quick guide to what we’re looking for at Design@HEART, when we ask for one.

What you should include in your statement.

  • What you do/make
  • How you do it
  • Why you do it
  • Any influences – things, people, ideas that led to you doing what you do or producing the particular work you do.
  • Any message or point you or your work is making through your products/artwork (if relevant)

What we don’t want

There’s lots of ways of writing an artist statement, depending on who your audience is.  The important thing to know is to consider your audience. If you’re applying for a Design@HEART fair, we’re not looking for highly academic explanations of what you do.  We’re NOT PhD supervisors or an academic journal! Write for your customers in language they will understand and relate to.

  • We don’t want an essay.  A short paragraph is what we need.
  • We don’t need fancy words.  If you don’t usually use them, if you don’t think your customers will understand them, don’t use them in your statement.

How to write it

  • Use short sentences and plain English.
  • Use punctuation and grammar correctly.
  • Keep it short and sweet and to the point, between 100 and 150 words long.
  • Here’s a suggested structure.  It’s not written in stone, but if you include these things, you’ve about covered it:
    • Start with introducing what you do
    • Go on to explain a little more about them
    • Describe your materials and methods
    • Explain why you do it or why you do it, generally.
    • Talk briefly about your influences.
    • Is there something you want to add (briefly and succinctly) about your ethos or message?

This is just a suggestion. It doesn’t have to follow this formula to the letter.  Read it back to yourself, does it make sense?  Get a friend to read it too.  Does it say what you want it to say?  Would you be happy to have this description of your work and your business published? If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go.

Examples

Here’s a couple of examples.  Remember they are copyrighted – you need to write your own original statement, not copy other people’s – but hopefully they will give you an idea of what we are after. The first sticks quite rigidly to the formula above, the second is a bit more freeform.  But both contain the information our customers might be interested in, in a style that is easy to read.

Example 1

I design and make handbags. My bags are all practical as well as stylish, with simple designs. I use only natural textiles and materials, all sourced locally.  I hand stitch each bag individually.

I have always had a love of simple style and clean lines.  I have combined this with my interest in traditional textile manufacture.  I hope that my bags reflect an appreciation of the history and skill that goes to producing textiles.

I’m influenced by the colours I see around me, not just in nature but also in the built environment.  I love to spot colours and textures and patterns that go together well.

I’m not a slave to fashion.  I’m more interested in style, and practical uses of the bags I make. Above all I want people to be able to carry with them what they need and keep their hands free for the important things in life.

Becky Moore – Becky Moore Handbags (©2013)

 

Example 2

I’m a Leeds-based jeweller and printmaker, working primarily in silver and copper which is etched and engraved using techniques commonly found in printmaking.

My work is inspired by the landscape, as viewed on a flat plane through the train window and aerial views, and is influenced by English landscape painters, printmakers, and surface-pattern designers, as well as my background in garden design.

I love the textures, mark-making and unpredictability of the printmaking techniques I use, which I also translate into my jewellery and metal pictures to make pieces which will never be identical. Where appropriate, I like to add colour using traditional materials – patination recipes, vitreous enamels, and sepia ink. Exploring the chemistry of these processes in itself provides inspiration which means life is never dull!

Liz Samways – Inkylinky Jewellery (©2019)

 

 

Applications for Design@HEART 2019 open on 1st April.  We look forward to receiving yours. 

New Application Process

The application process for Design@HEART has changed!  We hope for the better, and we hope no more complicated than before.  But there will be deadlines, so it will require some forward thinking!

We know that stallholders like to know well in advance what fairs they are going to be doing in November and December, so we will be opening applications in April and May, with notifications in June.

What do you need to do?

The main thing you need to do is get organised.  If you want a stall at Design@HEART you need to apply  by 31st May.  Applications open on 1st April.  You will need to pay for your stall by the end of July.

Applications will be on line as before but with a new format.  You will still need to send photographs of your work (even if you’ve sent them with previous applications).

This new system should help you plan ahead to your Christmas schedule and will ensure that we get the best selection of stallholders possible.

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Image: Lindsay Thomas Ceramics.Go to Lindsay’s website for more information http://ltceramics.co.uk/

Events in 2019

Hi and Happy New Year to everyone!

Just want to give you the heads up about fairs in 2019.

Christmas Fair 2019 I’m moving the Christmas fair forward this year, to November 9th.  We always used to have the fairs in November, at the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, and it seemed to work better for both shoppers and stallholders.  It will also coincide with Headingley Farmers Market which works well for everyone.

Stallholders’ need-to-know: We’re also going to have a new application system, to give people a fairer chance of getting in and to continue to get the best quality makers.  So this year, applications will be a deadline, and stallholders will be selected all at the same time.  I know people like to know whether they’ve got in early on though so they can schedule the rest of their Christmas fairs, so we’ll open applications early in the Spring.

Craft Clearout  For the past couple of years we’ve had a Craft Clearout/Destash sale in the Spring.  Unfortunately I don’t have the capacity to run one this year, which I know will disappoint many, as it’s a great way of getting hold of some lovely crafty goodies and of clearing out your cupboards.  But I’m going to set up an online selling event in the Spring for anyone to sell their goodies.  You’d have to be prepared to post or have people collect whatever you’re selling, and their will be a few rules about what you can and can’t sell, but other than that, anyone can join in.  You will be expected to advertise it like mad to all your friends, customers and followers obviously!

So, that’s it for now.  Please keep an eye on the Facebook page and your inboxes for further news.

Becky
Design@HEART

 

 

For the love of wood

Gavin Edwards is another newcomer to Design@HEART, bringing his interesting and original wood work.  He has had many careers, and his current one draws on all the others, as he tells us in this latest blog.  

Working with wood is my latest career choice, having previously worked as a Cartographer, Field Archaeologist, Archaeological Curator and finally as Museum Collections Manager.  An unconventional background perhaps, but I have always enjoyed working with wood, so I didn’t want to feel that I never had the opportunity to explore where my love of wood might take me.

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My experiences as an archaeologist, as well as working with museum collections, has made me appreciate just how much human material culture and technological development has relied on the physical properties of wood. Indeed, our relationship with trees stretches back to the very origins of our own species, but there is so much more to wood than just its physical properties. There is an intrinsic beauty about its internal structuring, the natural grain and colour, which is something I always hope to enhance and take advantage of through the use of very simple and structured forms.

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I like to use a wide range of native and non-native woods, birch plywood and reclaimed wood to create what I refer to as decorative wall panels rather than ‘wall art’. In most cases the design element of my work is driven by the same desire to highlight and show off the character and quality of the wood, and on occasions it can be an unusual feature in a piece of wood that is the inspiration for the design of the finished piece.

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Bringing out the very best qualities of the wood is achieved by hand sanding down all the surfaces to a very fine level and then applying a hard clear wax finish before further applications of a semi solid wax finish. I do not use varnishes as I want these items to develop their own history by accumulating the dents and scratches of time, which are more easily ‘soften’ by additional applications of wax finish. Again it is the quality and appearance of the wood that matters most, which is why I prefer to use simple forms. The only time I use stains or paint, is when making the baseboards which are measured up and made to support the other pieces of wood that have already been cut and arranged to create the overall design.

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The basic layout and design of some of my pieces can be repeated, but the appearance of each completed one will always be unique due to variations in the wood itself and the hand-crafted nature of its construction.

Silver and Stone by Helen Drye

Back in April we featured Helen Drye on our blog, talking about her work and influences.  She’s popped back to give us a bit of an update about her current work. We can’t wait to see the new collections.

I started Silver and Stone Jewellery in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. It has given me the opportunity to be flexible in my work pattern around family and home.

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This year though I’m coming out of my shell and talking about myself in my branding – By Helen Drye.  This feels very strange to me!  I’ve always hidden behind my Silver and Stone branding, and I’m well known for teaching jewellery making under this name.

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2018 is a year for launching my own new ranges of jewellery and showing just what inspires me. The first range that I launched earlier in the year was my Woodland Collection, a range of individual pieces of jewellery inspired by Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, near York.  This is just next to my studio.  When things get a bit much, I like to go for a walk in the Common. Skipwith Common is a National Nature  Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the Second World War it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land. It is such a contrast, and a testament to how nature reclaims its own.

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My Woodland Collection has done very well.  I love the fact that each piece is different.

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My next range will be my Contemporary Range.  A minimal unfussy silver range of jewellery.  Modern in design and very wearable for every day.  This range incorporates the jewellery that I want to wear every day, silver jewellery that doesn’t date, and will go with anything!  I will be launching this in October, so look out for it at my Christmas events.

As we run up to Christmas, I am making time for designing and making.  I have less workshops, more exhibitions and events and less teaching.  I’ll be back to the workshops in January, when I find that I have a busy time – they make ideal gifts for Christmas, something creative to do when it’s cold and dark!

 

 

 

 

 

Heart of Glass

Sarah Wade of Garage Glass Studio is back this December with her charming fused glass products.  We asked her about her making process and how she got started.

My interest in fused glass developed from my interest in stained glass which I did as a hobby for a number of years. At one course I went on there was a kiln and we had a go at fusing glass. I was hooked, and ever since I have been fascinated with the things you can do with glass and a kiln.

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Warm glass or kiln-formed glass is the working of glass by heating it in a kiln. The processes used depend on the temperature reached and range from fusing and slumping to casting but doesn’t go much above 800 degrees centigrade. This differs from hot glass, where the artist works with molten glass with a temperature around 1000 degrees.

For the first few years my interest had to remain a hobby as I had a day job as an accountant, but four years ago I gave up that job and soon afterwards Garage Glass Studio was born. I have two small kilns in our garage and the glass is created there, hence the name.

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I did a City and Guilds level 3 in decorative glass course at night school, and I have been on a number of courses to learn specific techniques of glass making, but other than that I am self taught, adapting techniques I have learnt to create the images that I want to make, and learning how glass performs at different temperatures. I am particularly fascinated by the effects are created through the reactions between the chemicals in different glasses as they heat up.

 

Most of the inspiration for my work comes from the world around me, from the animals and plants that I see in the countryside in West Yorkshire. I love taking my wares to craft fairs and sharing it with people. It feels great when they look at your table and smile.

 

Firing up the kiln

If you have visited Design@HEART before you may well have seen Lindsay Thomas’s work.  Lindsay is a potter, producing eyecatching home decorations using the ancient method of Raku, and incorporating her other love of textiles into her new work.  Here she is talking about her work and methods:

I have been making pots since 1995. I started by attending an evening class and enjoyed it so much I carried on. I was fortunate enough to use an inheritance from my father with which I bought a kiln.

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I was also able to attend two courses that influenced my work and inspired me to try to sell my work. The first course was a weekend in the wilds of Wales with Annie Horner where I learnt to build and fire a Raku kiln and I use this process in my work still.  The second was a week’s course with Peter Beard, an amazing potter who taught me to refine my work and encouraged me to go out and try and sell my work.

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As I loved the Raku process I used this and made work influenced by ancient standing stones and ancient rock art from Ilkley moor. My first selling event was Potfest in the Pens 2000, a show which I have attended every year since. I work from my little studio in my cellar and Raku firing my work in my homemade kiln outside in the garage with my husband being my extra pair of hands.

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Over the years my work has gone through various influences, the main one being natural forms and pebbles found in the beach. The beach theme expanded to beach huts and camper vans and I now include found object found in the beach such as driftwood.

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The Raku process is an ancient Japanese process used to make tea bowls. The work is made, bisque fired, glazed, and then fired again in my Raku Kiln. The Raku kiln is fired to 960degrees then the pots are taken out when red hot and placed in sawdust. This causes a reduction in heat and makes the glaze crackle and any unglazed part turns black.  The pots are then placed in water and cleaned up.

My other love is textiles and my new work is earthenware decorated with oxides and transparent glaze. I use hand dyed yarn by Jean Wildish at Wild Wood Wool to sew rock art designs into the pots.

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Sarah Dunton

Sarah Dunton’s work went down very well last Christmas, so we’re having her back!  Here she is talking about her work:

I am a painter, potter and plant grower – and maker of small objects. I always drew as a child, and went on to study fine art at Leeds University.

My influences and inspirations are manifold, ranging from medieval art with its sturdy practicality, glorious disregard for proportion and delight in decoration, to the 20th century painters Paul Klee and Marc Chagall, whose work is often dreamlike.

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I learnt etching at Leeds, Morley College and Sir John Cass College in London and , much more recently, pottery at Swarthmore College.

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My work is derived from memory of things observed – I try to create calm-inducing and/or tactile work, which usually includes portrayals of birds and plants and occasionally people in their own worlds.

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

One of many new faces at Design@HEART this December is Shaun Vickers, artist and illustrator.  Here, we have a look at his background and his current work, which is sure to strike a chord with many of our shoppers. 

Shaun has always worked within the creative sector, initially trained in Graphic Design in Leicester he was soon illustrating with an airbrush for Athena poster shops back in the 80’s which set him on a path within the greeting card and publishing industry, having successfully freelanced for many years, Shaun joined several top card and publishing companies as Design Manager, Creative Manager through to Art Director overseeing many successful design teams and creating award winning ranges for many high street retailers and grocers.

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Now working from his attic studio in the village of Baildon with expansive views over Baildon Moor, alongside rescued cat ‘Ozzy’ they get wonderful views of nature and life passing by.

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This new venture as ‘Fine Art by Shaun’ allows him the freedom to create his own work without any restrictions, despite being proficient in all medium’s the humble pencil has long been his medium of choice as it allows fine detail to be achieved and the final image to be constructed in a steady controlled manner.

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With a love of all things Nature and Wildlife and given the resurgence of the focus on nature conservation and awareness, pet owner Shaun thought it the right time to marry subject matter with traditional working. To strip the image of colour and focus on the detail and character of the subject matter is really important, as the work continues to evolve so does the variety of situations, poses and formatting for each piece. Whilst he’s passionate about the work he does, his commercial background also focuses on the fact the work has a relevant  appeal and value to the wider public and so mixes pet and equine commissions with the larger wildlife pieces to sell as originals, prints and cards. As well as illustrating all things nature he also works on pet and equine portrait commissions

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This year has seen Shaun exhibit at several town halls and galleries for the first time with his own work, still experimenting with subject matter and formats it’s been a good grounding for the future direction for his next set of illustrations. This year has also seen him showcase his work in all manner of forms at country and craft shows in Yorkshire and his native Leicestershire, meeting new customers, and engaging with other stall holders and building up relationships and friendships through the unique band of ‘Creative Makers’, “I’m really excited for the challenge and opportunities that lie ahead and I’m very much looking forward to attending Decembers Christmas Craft event at Design @ Heart 8th December…see you all there!”

Favourite quote:

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

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Everyone Loves Bags!

Sue Turrill of Nuthatch Designs will be back at Design@HEART this December with her beautiful tweed bags.  Here she is talking about her work:

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When I was a small child I would spend weeks in the summer with my two siblings staying with our Grandmother and her two sisters.  That was when I really started creating things, using embroidery, sewing and knitting.  I remember spending hours with my Great Aunt Mary embroidering daisies around the edges of tray cloths, and I loved it.  Even from a young age needlecraft for me has always been a way of relaxing whilst producing something unique and useful.

I’ve since wanted to combine traditional methods I’d learnt with modern ways of life.  Everyone has some sort of electronic device and it seemed the obvious choice to incorporate my designs with natural fabrics to produce unique covers and cases to protect them.  Shortly after starting my business a good friend of mine said “why don’t you make bags? Everyone loves bags?”.  So after a bit of thinking I decided to give bags a go as well.  She was right of course and I love making them too!

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Natural fabrics are important to me as they combine durability with practicality meaning they will last but can also be recycled into something new in time.  I love the tactile nature of wool and the properties it has for retaining shape and repelling dirt. I’m sure my love of natural fabrics is in part linked to my love of nature.  I’ve always been drawn to wildlife and the countryside so the imagery I create on the smaller purses represents this part of my life,and it’s also why my shop name is Nuthatch Designs – it’s just my favourite bird.

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Wherever possible I try to champion British manufactured natural fabrics, and design and handmake the bags and cases I sell.   I absolutely love the heritage wool fabric Harris Tweed which is only produced under licence in the Outer Hebrides and now includes many brighter modern colourways from upcoming young weavers. In themselves they are a thing of beauty and I feel very lucky to be able to use them.

Nuthatch Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 8th December at the HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN