Handprinting seems to be gaining in popularity in the handmade community, and it can be difficult for designer-makers to differentiate themselves. This week I’m talking with Alex Snowdon, a Cheshire-based graphic designer who sells beautiful handprinted bags, cushions and cards.
A few years ago, Alex realised that she missed the hands-on aspects of graphic design, as the industry became more computer-based. With a background in illustration and hand-lettering, she went back to university to study design and illustration, which she undertook while still working full-time. Alex loved the course and reconnected with crafting and printmaking, especially the joy of creating something with her own hands.
In 2009 Alex was offered a stall at a craft fair and frantically managed to print a small collection of bags and cards to showcase. The fair was a huge success and prompted Alex to set up an Etsy shop to widen her reach. Since then, she has made a lot of sales both on and offline, including wholesale to retail outlets in the UK and Australia – a dream for many crafters!
Alex still works full-time and crafts in her free time but would love to give up her day job eventually, even it that meant sacrificing a steady income. “I love the fact that someone has chosen to buy something that’s not mass produced, that they’re supporting the growing craft industry and basically, daring to be different. I love how the whole process is more personal when you’re buying or selling something handmade, for instance I always put a handwritten note in with my parcels – it’s just nice to have the human touch.”
Aside from crafting, Alex loves to travel and gains inspiration from her experience. She particularly draws on Chinese and European papercuts as well as Scandanavian design. Alex is also realistic about her goals and wants to work on promoting her products in order to increase her customer base. “I don’t really promote myself enough. I’ve been lucky so far in that people have approached me but I know that in order to make my business grow I’m going to need to put myself out there a bit more.”
Like many savvy designers, Alex already uses media-sharing websites like Flickr and takes advantage of the groups to share her work. She is now planning to set up a Facebook page for her designs and has identified shops in Manchester that she would like to approach.
Alex also sees the value of the handmade community for promoting work and sharing ideas. “The handmade scene in the UK is definitely growing and I think the support is there if you know where to look for it. The crafting scene is very big in North America and I think it will eventually be the same here. I think the economic downturn has also made people more concerned with getting value for their money and spending what they do have on something that’s unique and good quality, all the things that come with buying handmade.”
Do you have any advice or ideas to share on promoting your work? Post here or send me a tweet to @elliethouret.