I was interviewed recently by Stacie Swift, one of our new illustrators.. and this gave me a chance to share my views and tips with regards to surviving the creative industries in the 21st century.
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What drove you to set up East End Prints?
I had worked in print publishing for many years and saw a lot of content that I felt was really strong –not make it through to the final selection in a range. I always felt there was a gap in the market for high quality content for a print on demand range. I think you also get to a certain age –having had years of experience in different roles when you realize you actually only want to be your own boss – the flexibility of running your own business is immense – but I would say its tough and requires a lot of hard work in a competitive market.
With 10 years experience how do you think the creative industry has changed?
We have seen major changes in the last 10 years within the creative industries–more graduates qualifying with first degrees and having to move back home as they cannot find work! I feel for them, even more for future generations who are forced to pay high fees to study. I had a full grant when I was a student -there is absolutely no way I could afford to study now –which seems a pity as I still value those years as beneficial to a creative journey of self discovery.
Young people do have a whole new skill set which has revolutionized the way we communicate – its easier than ever to set up a website and run a cottage industry which can be just a easy to discover as the big brands –so this has to be a positive move. It gives them the freedom to be an entrepreneur from a young age.
The technology we use for print on demand barely existed 10 years ago and this has given us freedom to publish new content without having to produce huge print runs – it gives us creative freedom and an opportunity to take risks on what could be seen as more esoteric content. The printing quality and access to archival inks and good grades of paper have really improved over the last 10 years too.
How do you choose which artists to include within your collections?
Mmm. tricky one.. I guess I have spent a long time building up my taste –by going to a lot of art fairs and looking at an awful lot of websites. I try to balance out the quirky with a bit of a commercial eye –although sometimes I just feel an overwhelming urge to contact the artist and get this in the range!
Which prints are your personal favourites?
My personal favourites change from week to week – its not usually our bestsellers I must admit! Overall, Dale Edwin Murray and Dieter Braun are my favourite illustrators as their work is so simple yet complex at the same time.
You offer Creative Business Mentoring, do you have any top tips for those chasing a creative career?
We do offer one to one business mentoring – this is a combination of life coaching and business skills –this normally concludes with a 2 week action plan and target setting – organisation is still quite alien to the majority of creative people!
My advice would be to know your competitors, find a mentor and observe what your idols are up to. Marketing and more marketing… I meet so many artists with fantastic ideas that really do not have a clue about how to market their work –its the most important lesson if you are freelance and going it alone. Go to as many shows and art fairs as you possibly can –see as much art as you can!