Developing a Glass Act
Sue King, designer-maker talks about how the business support at Cockpit has helped develop her business.
How in the past year has Cockpit helped support you to develop your business?
My last 18 months as a glass designer-maker based in Cockpit Arts Deptford has been quite a whirlwind for me and been the best time yet, really positive, and enjoyable whilst still experiencing steep learning curves along the way! I work in fused kiln formed glass and always wanted to work on larger scales and commission-based projects but struggled for the first few years to find my feet. Gradually I went to more business support sessions at Cockpit and found each time I came away with a broad range of tips and advice, but equally importantly more confidence and motivation.
What support have you received on working to commissioned projects?
At the start of 2009 I received my first large public art commission which was for a London hospital in conjunction with the Kings Fund. I was commissioned to create two large panels for a new bereavement/end of life care area, along with designing four large panels to create a sensitive screen from the cafe overlooking the bereavement /mortuary area. The completion of this in November 2009 then led to me winning a similar commission at a hospice in Bethnal Green which I have worked on for most of this year and which has now just been installed. These are my largest pieces to date at 1800x450mm. Ellen at Cockpit, who I’ve had 1-2-1 coaching with, has been so helpful throughout, including giving me guidelines for writing my terms and conditions and contract which was valuable, as it was a slightly complicated process with two or three sub contractors involved and I needed to be as professional as possible covering all eventualities.
How has Cockpit Arts’ Loan Scheme helped?
At the end of 2009, I was accepted for a loan awarded by Cockpit Arts through their Business Growth Loan Scheme, and around the same time, found out I was one of the six successful designers chosen to work on the prestigious Bloom project with Southbank Centre! So the start of 2010 was full on and I have spent several 1-2-1 business support meetings with Ellen and Abi, both who have been incredibly supportive along the way. The loan scheme gave me the opportunity to revamp my website along with getting professional photography showcasing my commissions which has already helped to get me more enquiries. Along with the loan scheme came 1-2-1 coaching meetings with Ellen, which has encouraged me to be more selective in what I do together with working in a more structured way with goals being set, which I do need! It helps to keep the focus and motivation going for me so very essential.
How did the opportunity to take part in such projects as Bloom with the Southbank Centre help you develop?
The project for Southbank Centre involved creating a range of bespoke products to sell in their Festival Terrace shop. This was a lovely opportunity to design and create glass dishes and platters echoing the interior and style of the 1950′s Festival hall. I had a lot of support and encouragement in particular from Abi throughout the project on working with the Southbank and developing a bespoke range for retail. We had to give a presentation to friends of Southbank and invited guests and at the seminar Inspiration to Realisation for designer-makers. As I had never spoken in front of an audience before I was incredibly nervous, but Abi really was a calming influence giving very useful tips! This was a big achievement for me and undoubtedly will help for future presentations.
How have your fellow studio-holders helped?
I could not have done all this without having a studio in Deptford which I have had since 2002 when they opened this site. All the makers are so incredibly friendly, supportive to each other often with corridor mentoring chats going on, and just a great bunch of super talented people. Nor could I have done this without having the support of the business development team at Cockpit who really work with you as an individual. Working on your own can be dispiriting and lonely and I feel so lucky to be in this great organisation. Next year is going to be tough for everyone but I am keeping optimistic and having a network of supportive people around just helps to make things as positive as possible. I am looking forward to 2011 and am determined to make the best of what opportunities come my way whilst also knowing that I need put in effective measures to make things happen.
Filed under: Business Planning, Creative Development | Leave a Comment
Tags: architectural, collaboration, commisioning, Seminars