Quite a bold statement, I know. But I really believe it is true. I also believe you can change the world with your design – whether you’re a crafts(wo)man, an artist or a designer. And I will go as far as to state that I think you have everything you need right now to do it. You don’t need a massive production system, a team of marketers & sales people or even a big fat bank account. All it takes is a good idea and the right tools.
You can change the world
I think we as designers have a responsibility to think innovative. I actually think it’s our responsibility to help change the world and make it a better place through the things we design.
As we evolve, progress and expand, so does the things we use. Designers come up with new solutions, systems, things to solve new problems as part of our development. Technology plays a massive role in that development, but without design dare I say it would be difficult to use.
Design is so many things, and I don’t think I can define it, other than tell you that to me, it’s about how you experience something, it’s the feeling you get from using it and looking at it.
The world is at your fingertips
There’s a new currency in the world – the internet. With that you are no longer dependent on galleries to promote your work or design companies to buy and produce your designs. Like writers can now self publish via amazon, musicians can release songs on iTunes, you can showcase and sell your work via your own website, or on etsy and Behance, and fund your idea on kickstarter.
Design is your business
In my world design is business, not as in cool $$$, but as in the same as. If you can design, you can do business. The problem is just that the majority of all designers, makers and artists don’t think they can. I felt that way for a long time when I started out as a silversmith and if you feel like that too, don’t worry – I’ll teach you how to fish. Well, not exactly how to fish, but how to use your design skills to boost your business. How thinking like a designer when you market, sell & service you products, will bring out your creativity and inspiration in an authentic way. No more feeling like a fraud or a pushy sales person.
I have a Master of Art from the Royal College of Art in London, in Silversmithing – and I’ve had my own designer-silversmithing business for 10 years. Silversmithing – meaning hollow ware, table ware, large scale functional and sculptural pieces. Check out the video at the bottom to see me make a piece.
I started out doing what everybody else does – sold through galleries, fairs like Goldsmiths Fair, Collect and Origin in London, but also some of the smaller fairs in both UK and Denmark. I did commissions – people who contacted me directly to order my work. I’ve attended exhibition all over the globe from America to Japan, I’ve even had my own shop when I moved back to Denmark in 2007. Even though my work is large scale and high end – (I never made jewellery) – I’ve been making a living solely from my silversmithing since I graduated.
Now, I find that quite extraordinary, because I was terrible at the business stuff.
I hated everything about the word business. All I wanted was to be able to design, create & make my silver. I wanted to make full time, but I also wanted to make a living from it – even though networking, marketing and selling scared the shit out of me. I really didn’t feel comfortable with it.
Luckily for me, I had good galleries, curators and agents promoting my work for me, so I wasn’t faced with a lot of marketing or selling in the early days.
But then the recession came in 2009, and the galleries I had, suddenly didn’t sell so much – I knew I needed to do something different – I knew I needed to find a way to market and sell that felt good and authentic to me.
From business fear to creative business passion
So I started to look at what had made me successful despite my fear of marketing and selling. And that’s when my interest in business, marketing & selling started. I could suddenly see how I not only transformed my own business, (I had my best year in 2010 & was awarded Silversmith of the Year 2011) but also that I could help other crafts people do the same.
I see so many of my peers and graduates struggling with the business side of being a craftsman, and we almost all of us have this block, that because we are creative, we don’t have business skills, especially marketing & selling.
So apart from being a silversmith, I want to pass my passion for running a creative business on to others and I now also teach design & business to other craftsmen. I really want to give other crafts people, makers and creatives the same tools I have – I want to empower them to create success for themselves on their own terms, without compromising their creativity.