‘Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius’ - Pietro Aretino
Happy New Year to everyone! Well, ok I know it’s now the start of February so a little bit delayed but I’ve been using January to not only take advantage of hibernating and take stock on what has happened in my life over the last 6 months…but also preparing the ground for the coming seasons. A bit like a scurrying squirrel burying their nuts, knowing that I will be thankful for these precious nuggets of groundwork later on in the year. Someone wise once told me that to build a strong house, its ultimate success will be in how strong and well made the foundations are. So I’ve been doing some digging as far deep down as I can get!
I didn’t really have a clue about setting up a business in the Summer and the thought of ‘tax returns,’ putting together a ‘business plan’ and making a spreadsheet for a ‘sales pipeline’ made me feel a bit nauseous if I had to be honest. Researching into endangered animals and environmentally friendly alternatives was the easy part. I was excited and inspired to get going with the creativity. It was the ‘grown-up’ part of being a one-(wo)man-band and having to be responsible for absolutely everything myself that made me feel a combination of nerves, fear and procrastination...
Back in October, we visited some really good friends and I was expressing my uncertainties of where to properly start and how I had no idea of how to get going. Ben Keene who is an intrepid entrepreneur, a creative start-up advisor and tribe builder gave me some fantastic advice.
“Just make, make, make and get yourself out there and the rest will all follow.”
So I did just that.
I set my website up, MADE, MADE, MADE and got myself out there. Even in the first couple of weeks, I had a few commissions coming in and there was already lots of interest. A rare blue lobster (that I had never heard of before but loved finding out about), another whale shark, a wave, a commission for a baby boy to incorporate a significant creature from both Scotland and Italy as well as two fun flamingos.
I was sketching and printing for friends, and friends of friends and it suddenly dawned on me that I was actually making someone’s Christmas present. On Christmas day, people were going to be opening up a creation which had been made by me. No more talking about wanting to be an artist. I was actually being an artist. It was happening…
With the frenzy of researching, ordering, drawing, rubbing out, more drawing, printing, re-printing, more researching, more ordering, wrapping, Instagram-ing, giving, sending…and with last postal dates and Christmas day looming; I was delighted for the dark, dormant days of January.
I normally find this time of year really difficult (like a lot of people out there), especially with the lack of sunshine and warmth. However, because I am now working from home, I have been able to create my own cosy cave and have used this time for online ‘eco’ hunting and gathering (no animals were harmed in the process luckily), getting into a focused mind-set and deliberately switching off from social media and the outside world, whilst working on my own type of inner work, preparing the earth for the next abundance of creativity.
A few discoveries to share from the last few months of creative and digital foraging….
1. Talk to people.
Other people have had the same thoughts/ ideas/ doubts/ success too. Ultimately people want to help and it’s great to share stories. Learn from people’s mistakes, take advice from strangers (the friendly kind) and be brave enough to reach out and ask for advice/ admit how you are feeling.
It’s not a weakness, it’s actually a strength.
2. Don’t always believe what it says on the tin.
A lot of companies nowadays are using key buzz words like ‘eco’, ‘green’, ‘recyclable’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘biodegradable’ but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is either completely environmentally friendly or if it will biodegrade in our life time.
Some plastic has now been tweaked to make durable ‘bioplastic’ and therefore companies can label it as ‘biodegradable’. As a consumer, we think that we are choosing a sustainable choice but we are being misled. It is still polypropylene which means it is still made of oil, can only be recycled at a specific recycling plant and can only break down at a high-temperature, industrial, composting facility. So definitely not a good option.
However, I have found that there is now a see-through biodegradable and compostable PLA Nativia® certified film (made from cellulose – found in natural sources like plants) which does break down naturally in the environment and can be cut up and composted in your own compost bin at home. It can take from 3 - 6 months to decompose but this is a much more environmentally sound way to have a ‘clear’ wrap. Ultimately, the best way to avoid this is to not use anything at all.
3. Where is it manufactured?
When thinking about sourcing environmentally friendly products, it’s also important to factor in the mileage (and carbon emissions) it takes to get to you.
Are environmentally friendly, solvent free, water based inks that are made in Australia actually ‘good for the environment’ if I am printing in the UK? Can I justify using ‘eco’ inks that have flown half way around the world? (After hours of research and lots of emails and phone calls, I have now managed to source some equally valid environmentally friendly, solvent free, water based, vegan inks that are made in Kent, England. Phew!)
4. Ordering from a company which supplies ‘eco-friendly’ goods.
Even when you have placed an order with good intentions, be wary of the packaging.
An order for 6 rolls of 100% recycled paper tape, biodegradable and compostable cellulose wrap and some biodegradable & compostable stickers came all wrapped in masses of plastic, bubble wrap and polystyrene pieces. I’ve saved the plastic to make an ‘eco brick’ (www.ecobricks.org) and the bubble wrap will come in handy for wrapping but it really wasn’t that necessary. I’ve learnt to phone the company first to ask about their packaging or even better, use only local companies that have pledged to be more sustainable and ethical. www.eco-craft.co.uk
So I am now ready to re-awaken and get going with some new commissions and put people’s ideas into reality! Or course, thinking about our planet whilst I do it.
I hope you too feel ready for February, the ongoing changing of the seasons and have started your 2019 with good intentions, great ideas and are getting excited about the bird song, lighter evenings and potential adventures to be had (with a few snow flurries thrown in!) The days are starting to lengthen and it is now time to re-emerge and awaken from the wintery shadows …
Happy New Year and please get in touch if you have a unique birthday coming up, a favourite animal or a special request to brighten up your home…
…and greetings cards and digital prints of my artwork will be available very soon!