WebinArt is Creative Leicestershire’s flagship one-year Professional Development Programme for early-career creatives + artists in Leicestershire. We collaborate with experienced professionals online + in-person to help creative start-ups navigate their way to confidence and success. In part 4 of our member focus, meet another three of our members below and gain an insight into their work, their creative journey so far, and their plans for the future. Many thanks to Jackie, Shazia and David!
Jacqueline May Designs
Tell us about your creative business and how you got into it.
With natures inspiration, I draw designs on paper using pro-marker pens. From these, I produce digital prints. I sell these mounted/framed and as greeting cards through my website, at trade and retail events, and through various outlets. After graduating in Fine Art and Ceramics in 1984, I went straight into office work, then later back to college leading to a
rewarding career in accounting. When my job went part time I suddenly started drawing again, for the first time in 30 years. Soon afterwards I launched Jacqueline May Designs and gradually moved to being completely self-employed 5 years ago.
How does your work fit in with other life responsibilities?
My earlier working life enabled me to buy a home and raise my son, while the creative me lay semi dormant. Finding some release in practical things as knitting, home decorating, gardening and cooking. Now my mortgage is payed, and my son is grown, I can totally focus on this new direction in my life. I like to approach a project full on and throw everything into it. The garden and the house have never been more neglected, but I try to ensure I look after myself and look out for my hard working but extremely supportive husband.
What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term?
My current goal is to grow my online sales. The plan being to add more SEO rich structure and content to my website, whilst attending more trading events to grow my exposure and my mailing list. Alongside this I intent to increase my overall marketing knowledge, skills and activity to fulfil an overall marketing plan. Long term I wish to simply keep going and growing. Most specifically to build up my design catalogue, possible diversify with other product lines, while building on my wholesale stockist list.
Tell us about your biggest challenges and successes up to this point.
Biggest challenges: Keeping positive and motivated as a lone businessperson, through ups and downs. Overcoming my imposter syndrome (I still hear my art lecturer’s derogatory comments). Then there is the whole marketing thing, my nemesis, the key thing constantly holding me back. Finding time for art, sometimes the business stuff is overwhelming.
Biggest successes: Getting established at quality curated retail events, rubbing shoulders with the best of them. Selling my work in outlets across the country, from the Shetlands to Dorset. Building my own e-Commerce WordPress website including my own quality product photography. Facing my fears and doing it anyway.
Tell us how the WebinArt Programme is benefitting your business journey so far.
My introductory 1 to 1 prompted me to review my business plan and marketing plan and helped me gain focus on some key marketing elements which I have been slowly working through since. I am mindful that I probably have not maximised this opportunity yet and am gearing myself for my next session this month.
See more of Jackie's work here:
Instagram: Jacqueline May Designs
Tell us about your creative business and how you got in to it. My name is Shazia and I'm the face behind Rashida Art. I paint contemporary Islamic art for the modern muslim home. My goal is to ignite a deeper awareness of our history, heritage and traditions. Each piece I paint is inspired by islamic teachings. Rashida Art began after a period of using art as a form of therapy. Following the bereavement of my younger sister in 2016, I struggled to make sense of all my emotions. Creating artwork was the only thing that kept me going. Using Art as healing was the only thing keeping me going. I taught myself all I could, and later decided to share my artwork with others, so that they could also be part of my journey. Establishing Rashida At gave me a sense of confidence and calm, which i had never experienced before.
How does your work fit in with other life responsibilities? I work around my 3 children, 1 of whom has autism and severe learning disability. This limits the amount of hours i can put in, and is usually during term time only. I tend to paint at night, when all is quiet and the day has ended. I find taking commissions restricts my creative practice, and puts a strain in terms of deadlines. I prefer not to set any firm deadlines, so as to allow my creativity to flow naturally.
What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term? I plan to launch my website featuring works created in 2018 and 2019. This will showcase original art, including canvas and poster prints of my artwork. I would also love to hold a solo exhibition and have my artwork displayed in galleries. I am quietly working on the side, developing a sister company called Rashida Designs. This features patterns from the east, and I aim to soon launch a homeware brand inspired by these artworks. I have also been shortlisted as a tutor for the Spring Programme at Attenborough Arts. I will be teaching Islamic Illumination Art once a week.
Tell us about your biggest challenges and successes up to this point. The business side of things has always been my greatest challenge. I am really bad at time management, and can never stick to a routine. This has been my biggest hurdle so far, and I am slowly learning to pre-plan my working weeks.
I have also struggled with burnout, by putting a strain on myself to finish artworks, whilst juggling a family life also. I am still trying to work out a healthy balance.
One of my greatest successes is the sale of 3 large pieces of Art to International Collectors. This gave me a boost in confidence and allowed me to explore my creativity further.
Tell us how the WebinArt Programme is benefitting your business journey so far. Being part of Webinart has been an invaluable experience. I have been privileged to connect with lots of talented people, and have learnt so much from the webinars thus far.
The mentoring aspect has been a blessing, as it has allowed me to set myself goals, and achieve them. The support system of Webinart has been key in helping me gain confidence as an Artist. Having never formally studied Art, "imposter syndrome" clouds over me many-a-time, and being part of this creative community has helped me see that a qualification doesn't not make one an artist. One creative expression, and ability to touch others through art is what truly matters.
See more of Shazia's work here:
David Wilson Clarke
Tell us about your creative business and how you got in to it. I’m a photographer of contemporary dance, performance art, art and portraiture. I was an electronics engineer for years, then, 15 years ago, I picked up a camera, and got the bug. Initially I photographed bands, then saw some performance art, and was hooked. This lead on, via a strange route, to contemporary dance. My old job of electronics is leaking into my new job, and now do some electronics for art and theatre.
I maybe becoming an artist. I’m doing quite a few collaborations with other artists, as a way of learning. Some of them aren’t photography or electronics, which is interesting...
How does your work fit in with other life responsibilities? I think I may be irresponsible, as I just work. I’m sure this would change if I had a partner.
What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term? A lot of planning is like being in a pinball machine. If an opportunity comes up, I try and take it. The photography is gradually building, and I’m looking to do an Arts Council Grant for a project. I’m also looking for more technical work, to fill the gaps between photography jobs. That’s the short term. I have no long term plans, just gradually building on what I do. Making long term plans is tricky, when starting out, as things change quite quickly.
Tell us about your biggest challenges and successes up to this point. To get sustainable as a photographer has been gradual, and taken about 3 years. And I’m not sure if I’m stable or not, yet. I have a solo exhibition of dance photography in 2020 at Déda, in Derby, which I’m tremendously excited by.
Tell us how the WebinArt Programme is benefitting your business journey so far. As I said, I’m looking to do more electronics for people, so I need to promote that. Emrys has been a great help in the planning of that, and as a result I’m adding a section to my website.
But that’s just the direct benefit. There’s also the feeling that you’re part of a community, and the knowledge that others are also in a similar position of gradually learning how to navigate an arts career.
See more of David's work here: