15th March 2019

This is the fourth article in a series of six focussing on the London Creative Network (LCN) and professional development programmes at Cockpit Arts.  This article looks at the embracing individuality when it comes to running a business.

There’s no single, definitive way to run any business and working in the craft world is no different. Everyone we work with have their own life situations and individual ways of working. In our experience, by taking this into account, makers can build a more sustainable and successful business. This might mean getting other people involved to help out from time to time as Cockpit Arts based ceramicist Tessa Eastman learned on the programme: “I have a much more holistic business approach and my thinking has been opened up to considering things I never thought possible, such as employing an assistant when I have big show deadlines and delegating tasks I’m less good at to others.”

Understanding how best to manage your time and not focusing all your energy on making is also essential as jeweller Michelle Fernandez describes here, “All aspects of my creative practice have been brought into sharp focus by attending the LCN programme. It has entirely changed my approach to the making, promotion and selling of my work. Instead of focusing most of my time on making work, I have been encouraged to consider other important factors.”

Taking a holistic approach to your business in this way boosts confidence and job satisfaction and helps craftspeople achieve a better work-life balance. Cockpit Arts based maker Jasmine Carey of Deco22 explains, “I am sure I am not alone when I say as a creative, I do tend to focus more on designing and making and these workshops have been helping me to evolve Deco 22 into a well-rounded, well-run craft-based business.”

Craft businesses also need to attain certain financial goals, a topic we also offer support on as part of our professional development programme. According to basketmaker Alison Dickens, “The tools and knowledge I have acquired have helped me to develop a clear sense of direction and early plan of action, which will hopefully enable me to support myself as a maker.”

Through one-to-one mentoring and workshops, we encourage craftspeople to take their businesses forward in a sustainable way that also aligns with their personal values and lifestyles. As Jasmine Carey states, “I drew on some of the workshops on offer at Cockpit Arts to define my life values and my business priorities – which were one and the same in my case!”

Ceramic artist Cristina Lorenzet felt more in control through revisiting these core aspects of her business, “It helped me focus on identifying my business values and goals, consequently I feel I am much more in control of my practice and the impact that certain decisions will have on it.”


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Images

Top – Tessa Eastman in her Cockpit Arts studio, photo by Alun Callender; middle – Michelle Fernandez by Suleyman Saba; bottom – baskets by Alison Dickens