In this series of blog posts we caught up with previous One Year On exhibitors to see where they are now in their respective careers and how exhibiting in One Year On influenced their creative path. We spoke to Harriet Popham, Illustrative Print Designer who exhibited in 2015, Textile Artist Caren Garfen who exhibited in One Year On in 2008 and won the OYO Award, Print Designer Laura Olivia who took part in 2011 and Anna Gravelle, Textile and Surface Designer who exhibited in 2014.
Do you have any particular memories from the show you would like to share with us?
Harriet Popham: I remember how great it was exhibiting alongside makers from such a range of disciplines and hearing about their first year in business. It was both inspiring and comforting to share experiences and challenges with people who were in the same boat as you.
Caren Garfen: I was delighted to be part of ND One Year On in 2008 having exhibited the previous year as a new graduate. It was such an exciting time being back exhibiting new work with a group of very talented designers. My outstanding memory was of my name being called out over the tannoy and finding out that I had won the New Designers One Year On award!
Laura Olivia: Yes I have some great memories. I remember one of my dream clients (Harlequin) actually approached me and asked if I would come and visit them with my portfolio, I was made up! I also had a great chat with the trends team at Wilkinson among others, and I sold some of my products at the end of the show. There was a really great atmosphere and I spoke to so many interesting people.
What opportunities did exhibiting at New Designers give you?
Harriet Popham: From exhibiting at One Year On, curators from Sheffield Museum came across my work and commissioned me to design a forty square metre floor vinyl for their Millennium Gallery walkway. I spent seven solid weeks drawing, painting and digitally piecing together the huge design so when I arrived for the installation day to their vinyl team rolling out massive panels of my design it was immensely exciting!
Anna Gravelle: New Designers was a great opportunity to showcase my work and network. I met Liz Cooper from Design Nation who was judging the OYO prize and she was very encouraging. I have since become a member of DN and have benefited from their support for the last few years. I made a lot of contacts with good industry professionals and good opportunities arose from that. It’s an important first big show to do I think as a designer. It’s a launch pad and from there you do other bigger shows and make more contacts and so it continues.
Caren Garfen: Many opportunities were given to me, either directly or indirectly from exhibiting at ND. The first was to be featured on the front cover of Design Week having won the award. I was then chosen to be part of New Designers Selection, an applied arts show at the Oxo Tower where my work was photographed for a new book ‘Signs and Symbols’. I do believe that these openings led to many other excellent opportunities including being chosen for the Embroiderers’ Guild’s Scholar Award which allowed me to exhibit my work at four different venues with The Knitting & Stitching Show, and the award enabled me to set up my first website. There have been positive knock-on effects ever since.
Laura Olivia: After exhibiting at One Year On I was contacted by the ladies I had met from Wilkinson and received an amazing commission for a huge stationery range of over 50 products. Not only did I get to produce the designs but I had the opportunity to work with the factories oversees & actually be involved in applying my work to different product templates, designing the way that the finished products would look. The range became one of their best sellers and really launched my career. At the time I was working for an agent who sold my fabric designs, but working directly with Wilkinson made me realise that I want to be more involved with my clients, so it gave me the confidence and experience to approach other companies directly. I have done other exhibitions, but One Year On is still my most successful to date, I wish there was a six years on!
What advice would you give to those preparing to exhibit at One Year On 2017?
Harriet Popham: Take a small notebook to jot down snippets from conversations you have had. You will meet SO many people from industry and the public and to have a memory of their particular interest in your work as well as just their business cards means you can thoroughly follow up these valuable encounters.
Anna Gravelle: Be prepared. Have your marketing/press packs ready with good quality photographs against a white background. Know your price points as you will be asked for these – wholesale, trade etc. Have enough business cards – they fly at this show. Prepare yourself for talking to a lot of people and try and find out who they are and where they’re from quickly so you understand who you’re pitching to. You don’t want to appear flippant to the buyer from Heals/John Lewis etc. Work out how you’re going to do your display before you get there – measure it out, make sure it all works. It saves time. Have an open mind – something unexpected might happen.
Caren Garfen: Take it seriously, it is a wonderful opportunity to have your work shown and viewed by many different parties from diverse fields in the creative arts. It is important to be available at all times, be friendly and open to discussion because you do not know who will be looking at your work.
Laura Olivia: I can’t stress this enough but when you are exhibiting, you must be at your stand as much as possible. It is very tempting to have a catch up with all your friends, but meanwhile the buyer of a major retailer may be looking at your work! This is your time to shine and make the most out of this opportunity, you only get to do One Year On once. If you speak to a potential client make sure to write a note of what was said in your conversation, as it is really hard to remember after the event. In terms of the design of their exhibition stands, I would suggest to pick a particular market (fashion, home, stationery etc.) and research your dream clients. Consider that they will be looking for designs that fit in with their brands, but also add something different. Think about what could make your display stand out from the rest, whether it is the way you style your stand or the materials on display.
What are you up to now in your career? Do you have any exciting plans or projects you’d like to tell us about?
Harriet Popham: I am now working for myself full time from home in Somerset which I love. I’m currently working on a new collection, Arabian Opulence which features contemporary glass architecture with long lashed camels and fierce looking falcons. Really enjoying seeing this one unfold!
Laura Olivia: I have just returned from maternity leave & have some exciting plans for the future. I have grown my business so have a small & very talented team which will hopefully continue to evolve. We work mainly with clients directly on products such as kitchen textiles, bedding, wallpaper and furnishing fabrics. We also get some lovely & surprising projects through from time to time, anything from fashion prints to beauty product packaging! I’m expanding my product line both through my website and through different licensees. I’m also part of the team at Pattern Observer which is an online teaching resource for surface pattern designers.
Caren Garfen: I am in my tenth year of working as an artist and am now well established in creating textile artworks that reference the lives of modern women. I am currently creating a new body of work relating to the devastating effects of eating disorders. Many of these challenging pieces have already been selected and exhibited in the UK, in America and in Canada. These pieces, along with many others, will form the basis for a major installation which will be completed in 2018.
Anna Gravelle: I’m currently designing an exterior surface pattern for a 5* Hotel development in Bristol. I will be showing an acoustic panel at the forthcoming Surface Design Show Spotlights showcase, I will be exhibiting in my hometown at the Bristol Artisan in the Spring and also taking part in a Design Nation showcase at the OXO Tower for London Craft Week in May. I will be developing more fabric designs!