Developing a distinctive product.

When I first moved to Dorset I looked around for local scenes with Christmas cards. At the time in 2016 I didn’t find any but have seen some since. I decided that I could use this idea of Christmas cards to draw some well known local views which many people have done but in a new way.

So approaching Christmas 2017 I designed my first two cards – my theme – “Santa Over Purbeck” and I produced two scenes / 7″ by 5″ card designs. These were drawn originally at a slightly larger scale and then printed as cards.

The more successful design has been “Santa Over Swanage”, early comments included that Santa was on the water rather than in the air, but I was fine with that. I used the classic view north of Durlston Castle showing: Durlston Bay, Peveril Point, Ballard Point and Old Harry Rocks with Bournemouth in the background. The card sold well in 2017 and has continued to do so in 2018 also.

Drawn in Winsor and Newton Promarkers like most of my coloured work, Santa gave a reason to draw a deeper night sky.

The second card in the series also produced for 2017 shows a view you have to travel off the beaten track to see and is beat seen on foot. It shows Houns Tout, the headland I live on standing above Chapman’s Pool with the silhouette of the Isle of Portland in the background. A lower selling design but an idea that I will add to as there are several favourite landmarks found on foot here that you can not see as easily, it is why this coastline appeals to many walkers.

The cards were a success during Artisans on the Beach 2017. During the event I chose my next areas to include. I drew an original A4 piece for Wareham but then modified the design as I wanted to include the bridge as well as the Quay. This original remains available (If interested, please contact me)

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The revised version was drawn at size to fit an 8″ by 4″ card template. I have been pleasantly surprised and this card has sold in better numbers than I expected in 2018. In fact if I had cards printed in time for PAW18 I could have sold Christmas cards in May/June which was a genuine surprise.

The fourth design and extremely successful design for 2018, almost catching the sales for the Swanage card is Santa Over Corfe Castle. Living on the edge of Kingston on the limestone ridge in Purbeck I am used to looking down into the valley upon Corfe Castle and Poole Harbour beyond through the gap in the chalk Purbeck Hills ridge. I have used this sort of view before for my piece North of the ridge. It is also a popular local angle used by photographers capturing Corfe in the mist.

This picture sold its original in 2017 and the print is proving popular too.

My first successful Lino print drawn by hand and then took hand painting with printing ink to get a satisfactory outcome as it was hand rolled. (This picture is in my private collection).

Both card designs had been drawn and proofs printed by February 2018 but cards weren’t ordered until August when they started to sell. For 2019 I have two designs in mind, again I shall be drawing them this month and having proofs made but there will be cards of all six designs ready for PAW19 just in case the demand is there again.

I am so pleased to have gone ahead with this idea and it has been very successful now accounting for up to 30% of my greeting card sales to date. I have had ideas suggested by visitors / customers and there may be a new “Santa Over….” series starting in 2019. If that happens you will be able to read about it here.

January 2019

So, Artisans on the Beach has completed bar the wash up meeting on Thursday 10th, I need to make some notes to share what was involved and also aspects of the event to work on. One that has come up in discussion is the importance of clear communication during the event and the importance of artisan peer support.

Tidying up after an event – an event can remove much of that artwork that dominates your home for a period. After the event there is bound for many of us to be work that returns home and restoring it to reduce friction with partners etc. I am in that phase currently.

Practical artwork, to be honest a few days off to just be and fight off lingering germs and start to reintroduce a daily nap when needed.

Planning ahead and items I will be blogging about;

– boiler suits and wearable art

– developing an ongoing range, for me; Santa over Purbeck series

– new ventures, possibly involvement in PAW sketching programme, I was volunteered but will have to see

– PAW19 membership and entry for open studio application due before end of the month

– develop some work linked to PAW theme possibly

– rationalising stock, materials and using accounts to plan how to spread costs more evenly.

– Purbeck Artisan Yard Bay rearrangements

A print framed and edited for client’s intended recipient, now totally unique – apparently very well received.

Colouring yourself in, in public – attention seeking boiler suit art during Artisans on the Beach and a lasting original idea.

Santa over Purbeck series – Swanage card after two seasons still in the lead, closely followed by this one of Corfe Castle in its first season on sale.

A sunny day in PAW18 having to draw in the shade outside Open Studio as too hot in the sun. Experimenting with drawing inks.

Day 25 – Sunday 30th December

Slow to start and then more people about but very little spending generally. Comments on art suit, liking pieces but not purchases. sold some cards, read my book and helped hutters finishing to have correct number of items in their huts.

One positive from the day was achieving highest monthly income as an artist to date as earnings topped £1000. A new record by almost £300 and very encouraging going forwards.

Days 23 and 24 – Friday 28th and Saturday 29th December

Fresh air doseage is now causing tiredness of this artisan. I am struggling to arise and down to Huts by 10 a.m. which has caused some consternation in my fellow hutters as I have been so reliable. I have continued to sell mainly cards but sales have been lower these last few days.

On Friday I added the remainder of the artisan huts to my suit and then wore it today (Saturday). As other hutters finish there seem to be a range of suggestions / wants for next year which at this moment I really can not compute. I just need to pace myself through my remaining four days and make the most of the dry conditions.

Pacing – now starting to run on empty a bit, but so be it.

Day 20 – Monday 24th December / Christmas Eve

Well a dry day forecast but light easterly wind. We had 11 hutters opened up during the day. People left at different times for their Christmas / family time.

My day – I sold and put a Yr 3 Swanage Primary print in a frame with the addition of a St Andrews flag as part of a special request. Then card sales today. However my main focus was my #artsuit.

Last night I had used one of my photos to sketch out the view from the Banjo / Clock Tower Pier in the centre of the bay towards said clock tower, Victoria Avenue and the beach huts that our event is based in.

Now I had worn shorts under the boilersuit so that I could remove it to colour in the work from last night, however the easterly though a light wind as cool so I colour d in the suit upside down while wearing it. This did lead to some very odd angles according to some passers by and other Artisans. I made good progress during the day and will continue working on the suit and adding the remainder of the scene on the back of the trousers by the end of the event.

This was taken by Gail in Hut 52 at just 0.15 – yes check the clock behind. By the end of my day at 4 pm this represents the progress made. Some visitors revisited to check on progress or in response to the Facebook post above.

I have taken additional photos of the beach to either side to add detail including the recent increase in stones on the beach to the left in the image.

So, now for 42 hours away from my hut. I brought my pens home in case I feel the drawing or colouring urge on Christmas Day.

If you are visiting I will be back at the huts from Wednesday 26th (Boxing Day) by 10 a.m. and possibly earlier and trading until Wednesday January 2nd. I have many more prints and original pieces available plus wooden boxes, and my extensive greeting card selection.

If the idea of a hand drawn one off art suit appeals to you contact me to discuss the idea, it is something I want to repeat and will indeed be drawing myself some additional suit examples too.

Andy

Day 19 Sunday 23rd December

Sunday, due to be light rain, but then apart from a drizzly phase a cloudy and mainly dry day. A mixed day. Away from my art focus I had my day affected by a conversation with my eldest son – he has figured in posts on my personal blog previously. Today I have to pass on my thanks to my fellow artisans for their support and for Anne for coming down to be with me.

Later I was making the most of the penguin outfit to be – #penguinonthewall, #friendlypenguin, #penguinthatdraws.

Sales today included “Looking at wintery sky” which I framed while the customer was dog walking with their family – the second framed print of this to go in two days, in fact down to one copy at the artisan yard of current print run.

I also had a commission for some pictures of geckos from Ibiza collected.

Then there were 10 cards sales boosting Christmas card sales now to 385 across the four designs in just under 13 months – a series to continue with next year’s cards already planned ready for drafting and drawing in January.

So a day of up and down moods, silliness as a penguin, cake provided for the artisans, a chips treat, meeting return customers and people that lived in area we are previously. This December is proving to be my most successful month since AndyKnillArt started on Jan. 31 2017.

Also some ideas about possibly going into developing a rental unit as a follow up to Artisans on the Beach, this may well not work but a good positive focus this morning at least.

Oh and I bought myself a rather nice fishy piece from my neighbouring artisan.

Day 14 – Tuesday 18th December

So the forecast is windy and wet, not a hut day. So of course being stubborn I opened up this morning and only expecting to see Karen in Hut 20 later. She then was diverted by a matter elsewhere but Denise and Judith 21 and 18 came for a while. Rain started late morning.

Just watching the waves against Ballard Down was a positive experience. I started a pen and ink drawing of Ballard Down which I shall continue with this week.

A quiet day with some card sales and chats with a few visitors. I am pleased with the event for the 2 weeks I have done, but wish the weather could improve, a facebook memory today showed how I’d stayed this time last year to watch a great sunset at the end of the afternoon.

Day Nine – Thursday December 13th

A brief post, I sold a few cards, it was very windy from the se and it was cold because of it.

Camaraderie amongst hutters with hot drinks shared and chat. Distracting passers by briefly – tomorrow is due to be calmer but colder again then a wet weekend. Sketched waves again today

One of those days where we were there, not all opened today and illness is creeping in for some so we wish them well. A bit of recovering items from the Shore including a buoy which was returned to its owner through use of the Swanage fb page.

Day Eight – Wednesday 12th December

A south easterly wind meant one clear difference to last week, a temperature drop and noticeable wind without shelter from the huts. This is similar to the temperatures experienced a lot last year and I suspect will come as a shock to many of our Artisans who are new in 2018 who have only had mild conditions so far.

So, cool weather means layers of clothing, not sitting in the wind and drink hot drinks frequently. Not surprisingly many passers by did just that without stopping today, later in the day, some stopped, chatted and even visited the hut. In the afternoon interest was shown in one of the prints – “Windy Sunday” drawn during the event last year and the original was sold during Purbeck Art Weeks to a local couple. Later interest was shown in the original piece of a Swanage lifeboat, not the latest one. More card sales so some income for a day by the sea.

Inspite of the conditions I took some phone camera pics of the conditions and managed a couple of sketches of waves in front of me and on the beach to the north of the banjo pier / clock tower pier. Trying to capture the energy in pen and ink and using some scribble technique.

The tide has been higher in the mornings so there was a lot of spray over the end of this pier.

Apologies, look to your right – capturing the waves as they approach, hit and then move past the sides.

Two geography Groups today, this was a day trip from Oxford doing GCSE I would guess and for whom I answered the same questionnaire with 5 groups. The other group were with Geography man Ben from Leeson House and were I assume an A level group.

These sketches combined two views and the differing wave forms.

So a cold day, a test of stamina in staying open which did pay off. Also a day to see nature being more impressive. Tomorrow the forecast is colder, so more layers, a onesie as part of it so an Antarctic penguin in Hut 54 and some more drawing for me.

December 10th and 11th – away from the beach.

Monday – duty day at the yard and far busier than I had expected. I spent the morning resolving an accounting issue from Saturday’s busy duty. Jobs for myself included updating my card stock listing and framing three new print copies – two for the yard and one for the beach. I also added d-rings and hanging cord to another framed print. Some pen tray resorting and that was about all I found time for.

Tuesday – collected new stock items of Santa over Wareham Quay cards. We then travelled into Weymouth and visited Acutts a workwear specialists where I bought a white boiler-suit for my next art on clothing challenge.

Conversations while travelling include ideas on extending the “Santa over …” range in 2019. Also I am going to get organised with Etsy and online sales for 2019 and see how this goes after several requests lately to look at my online catalogue of my work for potential customers.

Sorting my garage out as it is being used for a filming project on Friday and last chance really for me to prepare it, I will miss this as I will be at the hut.

So from Wednesday 12th I will be at hut 54 from 10 to 4 pm each day and until 7 pm on Saturdays subject to customers. This is the longest stint for 2018. I also get a chance to do more drawing and work creation and enjoy watching the sea.