New Designers One Year On had been on my radar since exhibiting at the main event with my university last year. It seemed the perfect platform to show the industry that I have moved on from student/graduate and I am now a professional at the beginning of a long and successful career (that's the goal anyway!).
I spoke to a few people who had a stand at One Year On in previous years just to make sure it was right for me before submitting my application, then sat back with my fingers crossed waiting for a response. When the email came through I was excited, but it also quickly dawned on me that I had a lot of work to do as I wanted to present my 'brand' as best as I could and at that point I didn't have a cohesive brand. Thankfully I had help from a friend who knows what he is doing and thanks to his help and advice my website, social media and literature is all consistent and I am proud of my 'branding'. Please take a look at my website, www.seedsilversmith.co.uk to check it out, and feedback is always welcome.
All the One Year On'ers were invited to a prep day where we had talks on everything we needed to know for the event, including how to market ourselves and what to consider for the event itself, it was really helpful. My favourite was of course Patricia from the Design Trust who is straight talking while incredibly knowledgeable and informative. It was great to meet all the other artists too, and hear that they shared the same apprehensions but we were all there for one another and would help each other out. This meant we were no longer anxious, but excited.
During the run up, Rheanna Lingham, the curator of One Year On was on hand via email with any queries we had, and we also had a few webinar sessions with Patricia from the Design Trust. I found these particularly usedful not just for One Year On but for any future event thanks to the comprehensive advice and lists we were given.
While our stands all had the same tables and shelves we were given free reign on how our stand looked. I spent time working out how best to display my pieces, trying different layouts at home until I found one I felt best suited my work and also fitted in with my branding. It was a good atmosphere with everyone helping everyone else out and looking forward to the doors opening to the public.
The first day was 'Press and Industry' day and it was good to get one to one feedback from professionals about my work, it certainly helped me to make a few decisions about how I will move forward. That evening was the VIP Preview and after a long couple of days it was good to be able to relax a little (there was free Peroni flowing which kept everyone in high spirits) during the influx of visitors. It was a very positive end to the first day.
The doors opened to the public the following morning, and there was a steady trickle of visitors for the remaining three days. I made lots of new contacts, noted all the feedback I got, made some sales (my spun copper enamel bowls were very popular) and there are a couple of exciting opportunities to look forward to thanks to showing my work at New Designers.
I think the best part of the show, aside from business side of course, was the support and camaraderie not just from Rheanne and the New Designers team but from all the other makers too. It was the first solo stand I have done and it really felt like a joint effort with us all looking out for each other and making sure we fought our tiredness to keep upbeat for the customers. Above is a few images from other makers stands, but please visit the One Year On exhibitors list to check everyone out, it's well worth it.
I would certainly recommend applying to One Year On for any new graduates, it is a completely different experience to doing it with your university and a great foundation to build your own practice on. As it is specifically aimed at recent graduates the information and feedback you get really do help you to hone your work and consider how you present yourself and that is invaluable, and something I'm not sure you would get in that volume from any other opportunity so early on in your career.
Oh and I almost forgot that I was asked to give a talk, alongside Jeweller Vicky Lew, on behalf of the Goldsmiths Centre, on the Friday Morning. it was aimed at new graduates with Vicky and I discussing how we have found our time since leaving uni, and passing on information and tips to demonstrate yes its quite scary without the comfort blanket of your university, but its also exciting and if you are determined to make it work there are plenty of ways to do it.
Sadly there are no rooms for Two Years On so this will be the last time I exhibit at New Designers but I'm looking forward to returning next year to see the new crop of emerging talent on display.