Each March illustrator Joanne Hawker hosts a #MarchMeetThe Maker over on instagram. This gives all makers an opportunity to connect with their followers, and each day there is a different title to write about. If you missed my #MarchMeetTheMaker posts on instagram, here are my answers.
Day 1: Brand
Every year I try to do the #marchmeetthemaker and every year I forget 🙈 I have nearly forgotten today, but it might be a bit late in the day but here’s me 👩🎨
🐦 I’m Sandra, the face behind my brand Sandra Vick. I am foremost an artist, a painter who tries to capture the essence of things that inspire me in nature. I love to be outdoors in nature and it’s this that inspires me.
☕️ Sandra Vick is the small business I run when I’m not doing my art or being mum to my two boys - or at least that was the plan. It has taken over somewhat but I’m trying to reign it back in a bit to get the creative balance back.
📒 My brand is my signature and my artwork. I think my artwork is distinctive enough that it’s recognisable as a brand.
🌳 I’m passionate about bringing nature into homes on gifts and homewares decorated with my designs. I love that my designs can inspire people to learn about the birds on them, and learn more about nature.
Day 2: Style
👩🎨My style has developed in response to my subject. Using silhouettes to capture the movement and shape of birds originated from trying to capture the essence of birds without resorting to colour. Taking walks with my FIL who was able to identify birds from their flight and shape, led me to exploring how I could use this in my work. My paintings strip away all other references and just concentrate on the shapes of the birds and their relationship to one another.
🐦In this image I’m capturing the way long-tail tits come into the feeders and then most of them go on leaving just a few stragglers. I love how their long tails give a contrast to their general roundness of birds.
📒I still like using silhouettes in my work but am now starting to bring some colour into my work. I’ve already started it with some of my tree paintings last year - all depicting the bare winter trees and exploring how it exposes the life of the tree. This year I’ve expanded into my love of the hills. The hills and the beach are my happy spaces, while I can’t access the beach due to lockdown restriction I can access the hills. So watch this space as it develops.
Day 3: Beliefs and values
Both my artwork and my business stick to my own beliefs and values.
🌿 Nature is important for our own mental and physical health
♻️ We should reuse, recycle and compost as much as we can. I will often reuse packaging that has been sent to me.
🇬🇧 If we can, get things made in the UK for environment reasons as well as business (all of my products come from other UK businesses)
🎁 High standards and going that extra distance to make someones day is important. I never send out a parcel I wouldn’t be happy to receive myself. And I like to imagine that my recipients get some joy from opening their orders.
👩🎨 Art is something that everyone can do, appreciate and have access to.
🤩 We all deserve appreciation and respect for what we do.
🍰 Cake can be the answer.
Day 4: On your desk
This image isn’t the only thing on my desk today. It was just one of many things...it’s been a busy day 🤩 I popped a few gift tags in bags while my youngest was listening to his teacher read the boy in the striped pyjamas.
💻The other things on my desk (which is really two tables next to each other so I can manage to multi-task between admin 🧾, drawing/painting 🖼 and dispatching) was a calculator 🧮 balance sheet and profit & loss sheets for doing a tax return, ribbons, cards an wrapping paper 🎁 for orders to be sent off, a poetry book, some paintings and brushes 🖌 lying out drying, some melamine samples awaiting new colour tests, some emergency 🍫 hidden under a book so my fellow studio pal (my 11 year old home schooling) doesn’t know its there, one of my lovely notebooks and a few pens and pencils and the obligatory printer and computer stuff 🖨. I dream of a time when I have a separate studio and a small office. One day 💕💕
Day 5: Newest make
🖼This painting is fresh off my easel yesterday. I’ve been trying to make time to finish off some paintings that have been on the go for a while.
🐦This is a lapwing/peewit - a bird that you’ll see flopping and flying around in fields at the moment.
🥰Seeing their spring display always brings a smile to my face.
Day 6: Saturday - day off
Day 7: Sunday -day off
Day 8: Work in progress
🖌I often think I’m a bit too good at the work in progress. So many ideas, so many things on the go at once. This is a selection of the work I have on the go at the moment. Paintings of birds, mountains and flowers, and new designs for products.
🖼I like to think they all feed into each other. And they do - I learn from each and take it on to the next. Working on mountain paintings is the hardest thing at the moment, birds are what I can paint, I haven’t found my mountain voice yet.
Day 9: Learning curve
📈 When you first start out the learning curve for a new business is nearly vertical, there’s so much to learn. The curve is still there now, but isn’t so steep. I’ve still plenty to learn, and still learning lots - it’s part of what i love about this job.
💌 I am also happy to help others who are just starting out as there is so much to know about turning your art into a small business. What would you like to know? 🤔
Day 10: Small detail
🖼 This is a close up of my most recent painting - lapwings or peewits as some know them as. For all of my paintings of birds the small details are important so that they are accurate enough for a birdwatcher to be able to identify the exact type.
🐦 I was delighted when at the Rutland Birdfair a godwit expert was able to identify the exact type of godwit that I'd painted.
Day 11: Portrait
This is me. Me at the end of the day. Me really needing a fringe trim 💇♀️ 😃 Me with my ‘is it only Thursday’ glass of wine.
Day 12: In use
🥣 Did you know my new bowls can fit two weetabix in side by side? They also are fab for a nice big bowl of soup.
🍰 And as always there has to be cake somewhere in the picture!
Day 13: Saturday - day off
Day 14: Sunday -day off
Day 15: Focus & priorities
🏫 This is a good day to talk focus and priorities. My studio mate is back at school today so it’s definitely time to get my focus back.
🧑🏻🎨 As an artist, business owner and mum of school aged children it’s been really hard to balance all of my priorities.
🖼 Now I’m going to give myself some full days to work on these WIP, can’t wait!
Day 16: From the archive
🏬 One of the things I miss about all the lockdowns is meeting people. Meeting fellow makers, meeting potential buyers, meeting shop owners, meeting my current customers. Usually by this time of year I’ve attended trade shows to show my products to shops, attended art fairs to show my paintings to art collectors and none of it has happened.
🖼 So this is an image from the borders art fair last year just before we went into lockdown.
Day 17: Process
🖼 I am super excited by my new picture shelves for displaying my WIP! Thanks to @jennymartinart for the top tip.
🧑🏻🎨 I tend to work on several pieces at once, each feeds into the other and is part of the process.
🎨 These are a series of Pentlands paintings I’ve been working on, and in the foreground is a completed and framed peewit painting.
Day 18: Colour
🖼While I was at art college my tutor was really dismissive about my paintings of Scottish mountains - telling me she could guess what foundation course I’d done from way I’d used colour and was really dismissive of them. I was really thrown as I’d got a distinction in my foundation course. I still had imposter syndrome despite being in my second year at ECA and it really took away any confidence I had in that as a subject. It still upsets me now that she thought that was a good way to bring out the best in an artist. But 15 years down the line I think it’s time to address my imposter syndrome and be brave about doing some landscape work and putting it out there. So my black and white palette is being challenged and colour is making a comeback! 🎨🎨🎨
Day 19: Silver Linings
☁️ Without a doubt the silver lining of the pandemic has been the time I’ve had to get my painting mojo back.
🖼 I’d been concentrating so much on being mum and the business side of things that I’d not carved out the drawing and painting time for a while.
🏬 With the cancellation of trade fairs and large trade orders I didn’t need to organise new stock for quite some time. So I’ve had time to draw and paint with no deadline. It’s been great to just respond to what I see (mostly from in and by my house).
🐦 🌸 ⛰ There have still been bird paintings, but they have been added to with flowers and hills.
🧑🏻🎨 Here I am in my studio. I’ve recently put in a hatch to the cellar under it so that all the excess stock can be stored down there. When I say I... obviously I mean my hubby has 😂😂 It’s so exciting to have space to paint again. 🎨
Day 20: Saturday - day off
Day 21: Sunday -day off
Day 22: Hands in
Not enough hands is my biggest problem. Too much to do - I really could do with an extra pair. Here’s a happy hand doing some painting.
Day 23: Job/s
A year on and the job I was doing has changed. It’s been a tough and exhausting year. All trade orders have disappeared. All gift shops have been shut for so long that they are not ordering new stock. A large amount of my business has disappeared. I’ve had no support at all from the government and I’m so lucky to have a partner with a regular job. I’ve pivoted and worked hard to share my work online and increase the presence of my online shop. You’ll have seen a lot more on social media from me as I try to reach people who might be interested. I rely on you, my followers, telling others, reacting to my posts, commenting and using my shop. Thank you all for your support this past year.
Day 24: Wrapped and packaged
I am a firm believer in recycling packaging. So much arrived in my house that I try to use it for sending out parcels. That said I also love to receive a product that has been wrapped nicely. I love that magical moment when you feel like you’re getting a present even though you ordered it. So I try to combine the two. Each item is individually wrapped and then nestled in packaging to keep it safe on its journey. I’m always looking to improve that experience though - anyone have any suggestions? What has made you go “oooo“ and feel all lovely when you’ve received something in the post?
Day 25: Starting point
Today’s #MarchMeetTheMaker topic is ‘starting point’. I love how these topics can be interpreted any way you like but gives my followers an insight into who I am and how I work. This always seems a good starting point to the day, a nice big cup of tea. It was mugs that were the starting point for the black and white bird ranges too, 4 years ago. They were quite different to these but some of the designs have thrived on other products too. The starting point for my art career is a much longer story - one that I’ve covered in a blog of my website for anyone who is interested in knowing more. Drop a comment below and I’ll find the link for you.
Day 26: Favourite
Of all the topics of #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge, this is probably the hardest one. I hate it when I’m asked what my favourite anything is. I’m just not a ‘favourite’ person. It just depends.
I love drawing and painting, I love playing around with spreadsheets, I love processing numbers, I love researching new products, I love making designs for new products, I love chatting to customers, I love being completely alone so I can draw and paint, I love being with my family, I love them all getting out of my house, I love big paintings and small paintings, I love making up small packages look lovely to send out orders, I love popping into the post office to say hello to everyone, I guess my favourite is a little bit of everything 😍 but I do like a bit of cake... but really couldn’t choose my favourite 😂😂😂
Day 27: Saturday - day off
Day 28: Sunday -day off
Day 29: Reel
Day 30: Range ☕️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Some of you will know me from my paintings 🖼 , some from my prints and some from my black and white birds 🐦 designs on products while others will have just seen my cake photos. If you have a look you’ll see I do a whole range of products. From mugs/cups, jugs, candles, tea bag saucers, teatowels, to notebooks, lens cloths, table mats and coasters. Here’s just a couple of products, please pop over to see what else I do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Day 31: Looking forward
And today it the final day of the #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge.
🐦 This is the first year that I’ve managed the whole thing. I think that is a reflection of how my work has changed over the past year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🐦 I’ve streamlined things, I’m no longer in a steep learning curve, and I’m carving out time to create and paint. When you run a small business there is always something you could do better, never enough hours to do everything you want especially when you’d like to have another job too.
🎨 I’m glad to have found time to paint and I plan to keep that time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🕰 Which brings me to the topic of today ‘going forward’. Going forward I shall continue to bring out new designs and products - there’s some in the pipeline just now. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🧑🏻🎨 But I shall also make sure I carve out time for being creative and painting. Birds will always be a muse, as will flowers and mountains.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⛰ I thought today I’d share a photo of some smaller studies of the Pentland Hills on paper.