PIN DROP Preview with Finest Imaginary by Carley Batley

When we decided to share a few of the pin designs from our upcoming PIN DROP exhibition, we knew exactly who to team up with. Kim Lawler is Finest Imaginary and she's the pin queen. Kim's designed some beautiful pins and has created a killer pin for PIN DROP. 

We asked Kim to choose five pins to share with you all before the exhibition opens on Friday 4th August. Here's what she chose and why she chose them:

 

Yorkshire Rose Pennant by AmyPanda

Yorkshire Rose Pennant by AmyPanda

"This beautiful little Yorkshire Rose pennant flag pin is designed by AmyPanda, and looks JUST like one of her felt designs. Don’t you just love it when one material inspires another?"

Amy's Yorkshire Rose pennant is one of her most iconic products and for PIN DROP she's created a pin that's perfect for showing off your Yorkshire pride. 

Amy will be at Northern Craft Summer Fair on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August at Northern Monk Brewery.

"Oh boy, another PIN DROP sneak peek! This time it’s the turn of Dick Vincent and his awesome Hockney portrait pin. I’m a biiggg Hockney fan, and I’ll be wearing this one with pride the next time I visit Salt’s Mill for a Hockney fix!"

Dick Vincent has immortalised so many of our favourite people and characters in his work, so it makes perfect sense that he chose Hockney when we asked him to create a pin inspired by craft and the North.

David Hockney by Dick Vincent

David Hockney by Dick Vincent

Industrial Pigeon by Drew Millward

Industrial Pigeon by Drew Millward

"I’m a big fan of Drew Millward’s work, and you’ll instantly recognise his style in this tiny industrial flat-cappethed pigeon pin (it’s true, even the pigeons wear flat caps around here…). I’m pretty sure this pin’s going to sell out super fast, so make sure you make it to the exhibition to snap one up!"

Drew took our brief ("something about the north or something about craft") very seriously when he came up with a screen printing pigeon in a flat-cap. This pin turned out perfectly and we're really proud to have Drew's work in our first exhibition.

"I’m from Huddersfield (mighty, mighty Huddersfield), and while I’m not the biggest football fan (I did have a season ticket as a kid, though), our team Huddersfield Town recently made it into the premier league (wahey!). They’ve always been nick-named “The Terriers”, and their mascot is a Yorkshire terrier. So, this tiny blue-collared terrier pin from Toucan Tango is going to be a gift to my dad to wear on his cap during the matches next season!"

Whether you're a Huddersfield Town fan or not, who could resist this little cutie? You'll find Toucan Tango at our summer fair too. They're with us all weekend!

Yorkshire Terrier by Toucan Tango

Yorkshire Terrier by Toucan Tango

Fuel by Telegramme Paper Co.

Fuel by Telegramme Paper Co.

"Are ya mashin’? Whose turn is it for a cuppa? Ey-up, brew up! Whatever your fuel, coffee or tea (coffee for me, please!), we can all celebrate our love for something warm in a mug with this hot pink pin from Telegramme! So what’ll it be for you? Coffee or tea?"

We're more into pop than tea (can we even call ourselves Northern?!) but that doesn't stop us loving this pin. The hot pink and gold fit with Telegramme's retro aesthetic and we know all your Northerners can identify with this sentiment!

PIN DROP opens at Northern Monk Brewery on Friday 4th August, 6 p.m. Pins will be available to buy at the exhibition opening on Friday night and through the weekend at Northern Craft Summer Fair on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August, also at Northern Monk Brewery.

Making a 6-11 job work for you by Carley Batley

Sarah launched Geo Heaven at the end of 2016. Since then she's run a successful business alongside her 9-5 job. We asked Sarah to share her advice on making a 6-11 job work for you.

I launched Geo Heaven at the end of November 2016. I work full time as a special needs consultant teacher and wanted a creative outlet.

I had the idea for Geo Heaven at the start of 2016 and drew up a plan of everything that I needed to get sorted. I had the product ideas and the brand name but I wasn't sure where to go from there. I attended an event about building a creative business through Instagram and met other people who were starting out with creative businesses. It was great to have a new network of friends to whom I could ask questions. I read a tonne of blog posts about setting up creative businesses and drew up a list of everything that I needed to do.

One of the best bits of advice I was given was to set myself a launch date by hosting a launch party. This gave me a goal to work towards and I still wonder if I’d have actually launched the company by now if I hadn't have done so. It’s easy to find excuses not to do things when you work full-time. The event doesn't need to be big, you could even have it in your front room. The main purpose is to give you a concrete launch date. I found a venue that gave me a room for free and then created a free Eventbrite event to invite friends and family to. I sold stock at a discounted rate on the night and it was really fun to do. There was a good buzz on social media after the event as friends had been posting about the evening.

Running a company as a 6-11 job is fun but it can be challenging at times. You need to be dedicated and you really have to commit to it if you want to run a successful business. There will be nights that you come home tired from work and really don't want to do anything but if you have orders to pack then you need to prioritise them. You need to structure your days and factor in time for your day job, creative business and time for you.

It’s easy to find excuses not to do things when you work full-time. I still wonder if I’d have actually launched the company by now if I hadn’t set a launch date for my business.

It can be hard to keep on top of the never ending to-do lists from your day job, 6-11 job and housework. I have found bullet journalling really useful for this. A bullet journal is a customisable organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. You use a notebook (preferably with dotted pages) to create your own system. I use mine as my diary, to do lists, sketch pad and planner. It’s really useful to have everything in one place and I have a much more detailed daily schedule. When I suddenly remember ‘oh no! I really need to do that tonight’ I can add it to my daily to-do list in my daily schedule. If I have things that I need to get done by a certain date then I’ll initially create a list and then add each item into my daily schedules so that I have an achievable plan for when I will get things done. It’s really helped with my stress levels! If you want to find out more about it there are a lot of YouTube videos that explain the basics of bullet journalling. Even if bullet journalling is not for you it’s important to find an organisation system that suits you.

Keeping motivated is important and this can be difficult at times. You will compare yourself to other successful creatives and ask yourself why you can't be more like them. I find it useful to have a long term plan in place. When I’m feeling unmotivated I can refer back to the plan to see what I need to do to move forward with the business. I have the year mapped out month by month and list any big events and what I want to achieve for the business that month. It can sometimes be hard to find creative inspiration, particularly if you’re having a hard time in your day job. This is where self-care comes in. Make sure that you build in some ‘you time’. It can be easy to put too much pressure on yourself but so long as you tell your customers you are taking a little break then you don't need to worry. I find the best way to reignite my creativity is to get away from everything for a while. Whether that be taking a weekend off from Geo Heaven and relaxing at home or going away somewhere on a short holiday. You need to re-charge your batteries and switch off from stress to find that creativity. It’s important to keep on top of your business but you also need to look after yourself. Your business cannot run without you!

Having a work-life balance is important. There will be busy times and not-so busy times in both your day job and evening job. Christmas is a super busy time all round and you need to stay focused and realise that a quieter time will be coming when the Christmas chaos has died down. I’ve found there are times when I don't think I have a very good work-life balance and times when I think I’ve got it nailed. I think this is the same for everyone and you just need to check that you’re not doing so much in those busy times that you are burning yourself out.

Online it can often look as though people have everything together all of the time, they have the same self-doubt as you.

I’ve found it so helpful to have a network of creative friends to speak to. Northern Craft socials have been a great place to meet like-minded creatives. I’ve found some excellent Facebook groups for creative entrepreneurs and the Etsy Leeds group has a very active and welcoming community. It’s great to have a whole bunch of creatives to ask questions. I think one of the most useful things I’ve found about chatting to people at Northern Craft socials has been to find out that everyone is human! Online it can often look as though people have everything together all of the time but as soon as you chat to them you’ll discover that they have the same self-doubt as you and have stresses and troubles of their own. If you're not local to Leeds then it’s worth checking out if there are any relevant MasterMinds Meetups in your local area.

I love running Geo Heaven and I’m striving to make it my full-time job. I’m going to keep being organised, find time for my business and for me, prioritise and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Geo Heaven will be at Northern Craft Summer Fair on Saturday 5th August. Our fair runs all weekend at Northern Monk Brew Co.

Craft fair tips from Awesome Merchandise by Carley Batley

Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of producing merch for talented stallholders, sponsoring craft fairs and even getting  stuck in ourselves, setting up live screen printing stations at Northern Craft. Along the way we’ve picked up a whole host of craft fair tips and tricks from creatives. Here are some of the best:

Setting up your stall

So you have all your products, but how are you going to display them? This is a question that lots of creatives find themselves asking, and one that jewellery maker and craft fair first timer, Searlait McCrea came up against at the last Northern Craft event. Her top tips? Get creative and don’t worry about what other stallholders are doing.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Every seller and stall is different, so try not to compare your own to others you’ve already seen.”

However, don’t let creativity take away from your stalls purpose, if you’re attending a craft fair it’s likely you have two aims; 1) To sell your products and 2) To raise awareness of your brand.  Making sure you have flyers or business cards out for people to take away will ensure people can find you once they leave the fair.  Searlait also found that people like to be able to easily see pricing, so clear labelling is a must.

What to take?

When you only have a limited amount of space, it can be hard to know what to take with you to a craft fair, especially if you have larger items. On a recent visit to Coffyn Furniture’s workspace, we asked the Northern Craft veterans, Kellye and Matt for their advice.

“A lot of the items we considered being small, actually seeming quite big to an audience who want to be able to pick something up and take it away in a tote bag,” explained Kellye.

However, their smaller items, such as their branded enamel pins and desk tidies went down a treat. They also picked up commissions for their larger pieces on display.

Matt, Kellye and Searlait all found that if people like what you do they will find you after the event, so don’t try to stock everything you have ever made. A brochure or set of postcards are a great way to showcase work you have available online or through commissions.

“When it came to it, selling out of certain designs and not having the right sizes in others wasn’t anything to worry about,” says  Searlait. “Buyers who were really interested were more than happy to follow up for a custom order or to buy through the online store.”

Have fun

Yes, preparations for a craft fair can be a little stressful, but it’s important to remember to have fun. After attending a lot of craft fairs ourselves, either running a stand, or just as a happy punter, we can vouch that the craft fair community (stallholders and visitors) are a friendly bunch, so there’s no need to get worked up about.

Laura Wilks, one of the Esty Leeds Christmas craft fair sellers who gave advice on our blog, urges hesitant sellers to got for it.

“Just do it! It seems daunting and scary, but the only way to get into it and get better at it is to do it. Find a craft fair community and get all the help you can, there is so much support in the creative community that you don’t have to do it alone. We all started somewhere, it’s about learning and developing as you go along.”

We look forward to returning to Northern Craft again this August. Don’t forget to come say hi!

Check out our website for more ideas for merch to fill your stall and different ways to to make your products retail ready.

Awesome Merchandise will be helping Northern Craft visitors to screenprint their own tote bags at our summer fair on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August, 2017 at Northern Monk Brew Co.

Leather, Yorkshire, and working with the love of your life - this is HÔRD by Carley Batley

Who are you and what do you do?
Hi there! We're Gemma and Jason from HÔRD. We design and make bespoke leather goods in our small studio in Marsden, Yorkshire. We started out repurposing old leather goods and remnants, giving them a new lease of life on hip flasks. Not only do these pieces carry a little bit of history with them, they can be engraved with all sorts of imagery and script. We love to illustrate and often work on commissions to bring peoples' ideas to life - kind of like a tattooist in the leather world!

Where did you learn your leathercraft?
Gemma - Most of my leathercraft experience is self-taught and I learnt through a lot of experimentation and research. My background and degree were in fashion design and so I had hands-on experience with textiles and the way materials work, including shaping leather and manipulating it. I fell heavily out of love with fashion and threw myself into illustration. Leatherwork was my foray back into the industry and using a new material really helped that transition. HÔRD has really combined my desire for illustration and making things with my hands.

You draw inspiration from the bleak Yorkshire moors. Where else do you find inspiration for your work?
The outdoors really is a gateway to all we hold dear and thrive on - from long hikes and camping to scientific illustration plates of nature's phenomena and old maps. We are big lovers of history and folklore, so the utilitarian and well-made designs of vintage hiking gear and the branding of apothecary bottles and book covers does get blended into a lot of our work.

What are the best things about being business and life partners?
Jason - Gemma started the business several years ago and I came on board in Autumn 2015. Before this point, I worked as a full-time bar manager and spent a lot of my spare time writing music. I predominantly worked full day shifts and late evenings, so the times when we would see each other could be few and far between or littered with rants about work! Since I took the plunge to become self-employed, Gemma and I have more quality time for sure! We allow ourselves downtime and enjoy being more fluid with the way we plan the week or day. We're totally spontaneous sometimes and love finishing a bit early to disappear on a hike over the local moors. As well as my business partner and life partner, Gemma is my best friend. We tend to spend our days cracking jokes, singing at each other and generally being silly - we have a lot of fun!

Which stall are you most excited about seeing at our summer fair?
We are lucky to be attending both days of the summer fair, so we will have loads to explore across the Saturday and Sunday makers. On Saturday we are looking forward to some stationary delights from Ding, Ding and Kate Broughton. We are massive music fans, so we also can't wait to check out Melodies on Sunday. To be totally honest with you, the line-up is amazing and I'm sure we will be going home with an armful of prints and goodies!

HÔRD will be at Northern Craft Summer Fair on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2017 at Northern Monk Brew Co.

"Only the apocalypse will stop me from going" - Leeds blogger Jess Balme tells us why she's so excited about Northern Craft Summer Fair by Carley Batley

Northern Craft is back with another fair this August and I can't wait! It's been a few months since the last fair in March. So when Northern Craft asked me to take a look back at why I enjoyed the first fair so much I was delighted.

I go to as many craft fairs as I can, I hunt down independent shops in places that I visit and I spend hours speculatively browsing Etsy. I love finding the unique, the handmade and the amazing. When I entered the Northern Craft Fair back in April what struck me was that I felt like the fair had been carefully curated. There wasn't a stall that I didn't want to visit, a business card I didn't want to take, and, much to the detriment of my bank balance, there wasn't much I didn't want to buy! I came away with so many pieces, prints, and even a plant! 

I got to the fair quite early on, being a morning person I was one of the first through the door, whilst the fair did get quite busy it has a really positive atmosphere. I left feeling it was a good place, that I'd been among people where I felt a sense of belonging. All the makers I met were incredibly kind, and more than happy to chat to me about their products. I could tell that they took a great sense of care and pride in their work. I learnt about the inspiration behind their products, their origins and how they were made. I felt invested in the pieces I bought, and attached to them emotionally. 

The fair showcased some of the best talent in the North, some of the makers I already knew, but there were more that I didn’t. It wasn't just makers from Leeds either, it was the true North, allowing me to discover those that I wouldn't have done otherwise. Because of the fair I've expanded my horizons and now have started to immerse myself in the Liverpool art scene.

The second Northern Craft Fair will be even bigger and better. What I'm really looking forward to in August is the sheer number of makers will be there. There are over 40 stalls across the two days showcasing some of the best creative talent from up North and their creations including jewellery, illustrations, accessories and possibly the cutest baby booties I have ever seen!

This time around there are also workshops on offer too! So far Stitch-Up and Geo-fleur have announced workshops on both the Saturday and the Sunday. I've signed up to Geo-fleur's closed terrarium workshop, but it was a close call between that and the Macrame Plant Hanger workshop run by Stitch-Up. I'm really excited to come away with my own little terrarium, and hopefully a few tips on keeping succulents as a few of mine are looking a little sad (read: dying)!

The August Northern Craft fair is firmly in my diary, and only the apocalypse will stop me from going. If you've been before you'll no doubt know how good it'll be, and if not it's one you simply cannot miss, make sure you’re there - if you see me say hi!

Jess is a blogger living in Leeds. She blogs at https://jmbalme.com/ about all things fun and/or edible in Leeds and around.

Katrina Sophia on art as self-care by Carley Batley

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Katrina and I am an artist and freelance illustrator living in Nottingham. I run an online shop selling original work and illustrated gifts, and I take private and editorial commissions too. I love creating work from various mediums and materials but I mainly paint with watercolour.

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Your skill as an illustrator is wide-ranging while retaining a distinctive style, your portfolio includes architecture, people and pet portraits, and botanical and food illustrations. What was your training in art?
I studied Art for both GCSEs and A-Levels, then went to university twice studying Fine Art and then Scenic Art; unfortunately my university courses didn’t work out after the first year due to the lack of support I received as a deaf person. The skills I picked up are still valuable today, but after those experiences I decided to take my development as an artist into my own hands, which led to starting my business.

I paint various subjects to explore and work to my full potential but what I love the most is painting anything we find in the natural world.

You've blogged about your creative year in 2016, including your challenge to draw every day. How did this move you forward as an artist? 
I grew a lot more confident in my practice and myself. Before I started that year, I was as passionate about art as I am today but I wasn’t painting daily. I would create a few pieces per month due to my lack of motivation and self-belief. When I learnt about Crystal Moody and her year of creative habits I was immediately inspired and realised that to be a more successful artist, I need to create every day no matter what. And this turned out the best decision I’ve ever made. It might not be my most profitable year but it may be the most successful year I’ve had in five years as a full-time artist - my skills, attitude and mental health improved a great deal. Self-development is really important.

Tell us how art has improved your mental health.
When I did my year of creative habits, I would always start working on my daily art first thing in the morning and I feel it improved my mental health because I would be productive every single day, without spending the morning over-thinking and doubting that I would be able to achieve anything. It gave me positivity, a sense of routine, and also a sense of accomplishment particularly after sticking with it for a while and realising how much I had done and how I had improved as an artist through practice. Being creative every day is a kind of self care for me.

What do you like to do when you've not got a pen in your hand?
Making things out of clay, watering my abundant collection of houseplants, photography, and walking especially in nature reserves. I also enjoy reading arty magazines - Oh Comely and Artists & Illustrators to be specific, but I do have to work quite hard to pull myself away from Netflix! 

Which stall are you most excited about seeing at our summer fair?
I am excited to see geo-fleur because I might get to buy a new (and probably unnecessary) plant to add to my collection, and NATKO Ceramics because I have a thing for pretty ceramics!

Find Katrina Sophia at the Saturday of our summer fair at Northern Monk Brew Co. on the weekend of Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August 2017.

Meet Owen Findley OR8 Design by Carley Batley

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Owen and I design and screen print as OR8 DESIGN (‘oreight’ – although I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called Orb Design). I have been designing gig posters and art prints for a while, but in 2011 I took part in a night school class on screen printing at Inc. Workshop in Leeds (now sadly closed) and have been hooked on screen printing ever since. Printing by hand and seeing the design come together layer by layer felt amazing after years of only designing digitally.

My first love was always gig posters and some of my best moments as a designer have come from being able to work with some of my favourite bands to design and print artwork for their gig. However, gig posters are inevitably going to be fairly niche (finding someone who likes the band, likes the design and was maybe at the show, is like matching Cinderella to her slipper), which led to me doing more art prints which hopefully have a broader appeal. Designing for myself, being able to focus on my own ideas, has been liberating and something I am enjoying more and more.

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You create a lot of gig posters. How do you translate music into something visual?
I think that is one of my favourite challenges with gig posters. I tend to start by listening to the band, getting a good idea for their sound/style. Some music suits certain styles of artwork better than others. I’ll also listen for themes in the lyrics or get inspiration from the title of an album. Sometimes there will be a brief where the theme of the poster is set out. I recently designed a poster for Leeds band Post War Glamour Girls’ album launch show at The Brudenell – the album is called Swan Songs and the band were quite specific about wanting a swan theme for the design. Other times, I’ll be free to do almost anything I want.

You obviously draw inspiration from dramatic scenery. What's your favourite view?
I spent many childhood holidays in Anglesey in North Wales and still love going back and seeing the dramatic cliffs and empty beaches. Over the last few years, my girlfriend Lucy and I have been exploring Northern France by campervan and never fail to be impressed by the cute villages, huge chateaux and rolling countryside.

A little closer to home, we have Woodhouse Ridge at the top of our road, a few minutes from leaving the house you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in a lovely forest. It’s also hard to beat Otley Chevin for amazing views! One of things I love about Leeds is that you don’t have to travel far to feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Having recently bought our own campervan, we can’t wait to get out and explore more of Yorkshire and beyond!

You're living the campervan dream. How easily does your creativity as a printer translate into renovating your van?
I can’t take too much credit for the van renovation so far. Having a girlfriend who is a whizz on the sewing machine has been amazing for knocking up curtains, table cloths and cushions. Lucy and I have been collaborating on designs together, many of which will end up in the van. Lucy creates handmade fabric goods as Button & Stitch, and together we have been screen printing fabric which Lucy has then sewn into cushions, bags and other bits and bobs. The van has definitely become a bit of a ‘muse’, and features in a number of upcoming designs. Hopefully people like buying prints of campervans!

Which stall are you most excited about seeing at our summer fair?
Having been to the last two Northern Crafts as a customer, I know that all the stalls are going to be amazing! I’m looking forward to catching up with a few familiar faces too. It’s always ace to hang out with Leeds legends (and one of the best screen printers around) The Lost Fox and I love James Green’s landscape and cityscape lino/screen prints. Liverpool duo Toucan Tango create amazing homeware and gig posters, and also co-host the great Liverpool Print Fair (well worth checking out). I’ve also got my eye on some of the lovely leather goods at HÔRD and their Instagram account is great for atmospheric, dark shots of the wilderness. There’s too many to mention though, and I know I will come away from the weekend with a few new favourites as well.

Find OR8 Design at our summer fair at Northern Monk Brew Co. on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August 2017.

Interview with Gemma of Melodies Jewellery by Carley Batley

We caught up with Gemma of Melodies Jewellery to find out how and why she does what she does. 

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Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Gemma and I create products from musically based materials. 

Music is, of course, central to Melodies. What's your relationship with music?
My relationship with music is complicated. I love it, but I don't have a musical bone in my body. I've always wanted to play an instrument and have tried several times during my life. I've had a go at everything from a Guitar to an Oboe, but nothing stuck. Although I think my lack of musical talent has given me a great respect for people that are musical and sparked my fascination with musical materials. 

I mainly fulfil my love of music by simply listening to it and going to as many live gigs as possible. I always like to attend a couple of music festivals every year. It's here you can see first hand how music can unite people. 

What came first, music or making?
I'd have to probably say making. I've always had a love for arts and crafts, drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. 

I don't have the types of parents that shared any cool musical classics with their kids, which seems to be the way most people are introduced to music. My parents were into Jimmy Nail and ABBA, so I've had to find my own way there! I attended my first gig as soon as I could make it on my own at the age of 14 and I've never looked back. (Ash, supported by a very young Snow Patrol, since you asked!)

Although first doesn't always mean best and I'm glad I can now share both music and making in my life.

You create jewellery from reused and repurposed materials. How do you source these materials?
The only reused material that goes into my finished products are vinyl records and I source them from all over the place. I hunt in charity shops, vinyl fairs, scour online and even attend house clearances. I'm pretty selective with my records now. I would never cut up any classics. I only give new life to records that were otherwise unloved.

I source broken and used guitar strings from friends and local band rehearsal studios which I use to experiment with new product ideas. All my other materials such as drumsticks, amp knobs and new guitar strings I buy from specialist music shops. 

Which stall are you most excited about seeing at our summer fair?
There are so many awesome makers across the whole weekend and I'm lucky enough to already know a few of them. But I think I'm most looking forward to checking out fellow jeweller Katie Betty as I've followed her for a while on Instagram and can't wait to see her products in real life. I love her simple shapes and marbled patterns. 

Find Melodies on the Sunday of our summer fair at Northern Monk Brew Co. over the weekend of Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August 2017.

Interview with Livi Gosling by Northern Craft

It's also great to chat with returning Northern Craft Fair maker, Livi Gosling Illustration in which Livi gives some great advice on making your stall look amazing!

Who are you and what do you do? 
"I’m Livi, a 26 year old illustrator from Hertfordshire. I studied Illustration in Falmouth, Cornwall and graduated in 2012. I loved living in Cornwall and made some amazing friends there. It’s also where I met my boyfriend and Northern Craft stall buddy, Josh Hurley. Although we were just friends throughout Uni, I always thought he had award-worthy hair and an endearing love for homemade pizza."

Your stall always looks amazing, how do you create a stall that's enticing for customers? 
"Thanks! It helps having a stall partner who has a different style as we had to find a way for our prints to work together. We tried to make our stall vaguely symmetrical. Having a banner each at the front helped customers distinguish us from one another. We wanted to make sure that our stall had lots of height so it looked visually interesting from afar. I find it’s also important to be able to see over the top when standing, but also to be able to hide when you sit down to cram snacks into your face." 

You're living the freelance dream, what advice would you give to makers and illustrators looking to quit their day job? 
"I had a part time job from graduating in 2012 until Autumn 2015. Although this may not be for everyone I felt that I couldn’t have got to where I am today without another source of income whilst I was starting out. My graduate portfolio is completely different to my work today. I feel like I needed longer for my style to evolve before I was able to get regular work from it. Having a part time job meant I could also afford to see Uni friends and maintain some sort of social life. Going from a full and vibrant University studio with all your friends to working by yourself in the corner of your bedroom can be tough. 

I knew I was ready to quit my part time job when I felt too busy to be doing it. Commissions were pretty regular by then and it forced me to realise that by spending time at my part time job I was limiting time and energy needed for freelancing."

What's been your favourite commission to work on?
"I’m working on a food illustration project at the moment and I’m loving it. I have quite a lot of creative freedom and I've got the chance to try some food-styling. I've been given some heartwarming family recipes and I have to illustrate them in a way that best reflects their nostalgia. I work on a lot of illustrated maps and consider these my bread and butter jobs as they’re the main source of my income. It really feels like a treat when I get to work on something a little different."

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing? 
"They all look great! I’m looking forward to seeing Coffyn furniture as I’m currently obsessed with finding stylish storage solutions for our little flat. Their work looks absolutely gorgeous."

Interview with Chloe from By The Lock Handmade by Northern Craft

Enjoy our chat with the lovely Chloe of By The Lock Handmade. You can see more of her beautiful and practical zipper pouches at

Who are you and what do you do?
"Hiyur! I’m Chloe, I design and sew useful zipper pouches over at By the Lock Handmade. I like to use vintage materials, but I’m playing around with printing my own fabrics at the minute, which is super exciting! I work from my little studio in Leeds. I love coffee and dogs."

You were involved with the Stitch-Up pop up shop this winter, how important is this kind of space for makers? 
"Stitch-Up is an amazing organisation and Jen opening the little pop-up shop was super exciting! It’s the first shop I’ve had my pieces sold in and seeing them on the shelves was really amazing; especially seeing them alongside other amazing local makers too. It's given us all the chance to be seen by a different group of people that might not see us on Instagram or Etsy. People really appreciate picking up and touching pieces, it definitely gives you a better sense of the hard work that goes into making them, I think people really appreciate that! Stitch-Up has introduced me to some amazing talented people; they’ve taught me so many new skills (like weaving!!) and I’ve also been able to pass my sewing skills on too."

When did you start sewing? 
"I am about a 99% self-taught sewer; I got my first machine when I was about 12 (it was rubbish) so I opted for hand-sewing tote bags with skulls on to carry my school books in... Years later my amazing boyfriend, Dixon, got me a super nice machine and I started following YouTube videos, playing around with different techniques and phoning my Mum when I got super stuck. I really wanted to make my own clothes at first and finishing a skirt that I could actually wear felt AMAZING. But I quickly turned to zipper pouches, accessories and bags; I love making useful things people (and myself) will use every day."

The finish on your work is always spot on, how do you ensure you're consistently creating high-quality work? 
"I am probably a little over-critical of my own work, if it isn’t perfect I’ll start again. It sometimes means I work quite slowly when I’m working on something new, but I like to know my stuff is going to last and look good. It’s definitely worth wearing out my seam-ripper when I see things a year down the line and still doing their job. I spend a lot of time testing out new materials and findings too, to make sure they’re exactly what I want."

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing?
"There is no way I could pick out one stall I’m looking forward to seeing most! I have a huge shopping list already prepped; amypanda's stall is always super cute, I have my eye on a few Finest Imaginary pins, I am so excited to see Coffyn's work in person, I’m going to treat myself to a few Kristyna Baczynski - Illustration & Comics zines and definitely stocking up on some geo-fleur greenery."

Chloe is having the Summer Fair off, apparently her boyfriend's birthday is more important than Northern Craft!

Interview with Laura Slater by Northern Craft

Another interview, this time with local textile designer Laura Slater.

Who are you and what do you do? 
"My name is Laura Slater, I am a textile and surface pattern designer that make hand screen printed products, mainly for the home."

Your work is captivating, what's your process for developing a new surface pattern?
"All my work starts off with a concept or theme that either inspires imagery or process. Process is integral to my work, drawing/ collage and painting is at the heart of what I do. I then work to translate original artwork into pattern or placement print with the product in mind, this usually happens through development directly on cloth through screen print. I love playing with scale and colour and texture. I want my print to be as unique and directional as it can be. Perhaps for it to bring a bit of art into the home."

Your colour palette is so varied, what's your favourite colour collection to work with right now? 
"It's impossible to pick a favourite or current palette as all colour is so amazing and rich. I am enjoying a lot of greens/ darker greens couple with dusty pinks or brighter mauve/ purples. I tend to find its pairings or small groups of colour that gets me excited!"

When you're not making, what do you like to do? 
"When I'm not working- which feel like never! Haha! I love to go out, usually to gigs or dancing, my partner is in a band so there is always a lot of socialness involved in that. I love travelling and am planning an American road trip for the summer at the moment. I also just love drawing for the sake of drawing rather than to design."

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing?
"Oh it's hard to pick, my friends at geo-fleurCoffyn, and I love Drew Millward's stuff too!"

Coffyn Furniture Interview by Northern Craft

We spoke to husband and wife team Coffyn about their furniture, their craft and their plans for the future!

Who are you and what do you do? 
"We're Kellye & Matt Coffyn and we make nice stuff for your home. We focus on plywood and textiles to make furniture and home wares that are both beautiful and functional."

Why ply?
"Baltic Birch Plywood is a really great material to work with - it's strong and durable which results in a piece of furniture that's built to last. Plywood often gets lumped in with cheaper materials like MDF in people's minds but as it's simply layers of birch laminated together, it's as strong as solid wood with the bonus of being more stable through temperature changes etc. It also has a wonderful modernist aesthetic and is up there with concrete as one of the best (and arguably most beautiful) building materials in the world."

How long have you been making furniture for? 
"Matt’s been making furniture for a couple of years but it’s only been in the last 6 months or so that we’ve been looking at it as a full time occupation. One thing that has been constant, from the first pieces for ourselves through to larger commissions, has been the absolute joy of the design and construction. We want to make something functional and made right so it can be loved for years to come. Kellye’s been working with textiles for as long as she can remember."

Kellye, tell us about a project you've worked on recently.
"I made my first quilt last year for my best friend's new baby Jolene - and now I want to make quilts non-stop. It was simple, but felt ambitious because there's sort of an aura around quilts that they're super difficult to make. That's not totally untrue - you have to be precise and there's a lot of heavy lifting, but the ideas behind piecing are these wonderful exploitations of simple geometry and trigonometry. When you see how some things are put together, it's like being shown how a magic trick works - it's amazing until the mechanism is revealed and then it's so simple you're surprised you fell for it."

What's the first thing you made and what did you learn from that?
"When we moved into our house in Leeds we’d left a rental apartment and so had plenty of space to fill. We decided to try to do as much of it ourselves as possible and Matt built first a sideboard that was way too big to get up the stairs. It was a really great experience and we couldn’t stop after that – with Kellye making all the curtains as well as cushions and quilts while Matt got to work on tables and chairs. Going further back, Kellye’s first original design as a child came from taking men’s shirts, removing the sleeves and making them into bags for the sole purpose of carrying kittens in. This is what happens when you grow up on a farm in Texas."

You both just quit your jobs to work on Coffyn full time, was this an easy choice to make?
"We’ve both ended up here from very different career paths – Matt has spent most of his life as a bartender and Kellye is an experimental physicist. Since getting married last year, we’ve both been looking for a way to spend more time together and nurture each other’s creativity. When we got a few commissions in, we realised they would be very difficult to complete while working full time and we decided to focus all our efforts on Coffyn. Matt was lucky enough to be working for an awesome printers in Leeds who were incredibly supportive of the move and as Kellye was getting pretty disenchanted with academia, it was an easy transition."

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing?
"We’re definitely excited to check out Kerrie ALDO clothing range as all their stuff looks amazing. We also missed the chance to pick up anything from geo-fleur when we visited Northern Craft Fair last year so we’ll be stopping by their stall for sure! Of course there’s also the ever wonderful Drew Millward, By The Lock Handmade and actually everyone because it all looks incredible."

Kellye & Matt will be selling their wares on the Saturday of our Northern Craft Fair this August

Chat with Amy from amypanda by Northern Craft

Here's our interview with the wonderful amypanda

Who are you and what do you do?
"I'm Amy Wilson and my business is amypanda. I live in a little town in Yorkshire called Otley, with my daughter, husband and cat. I handsew my work using brightly coloured felt. I love working with felt because you can create sharp lines using bright block colours, and I also love that I can turn what is a relatively cheap material into something more valuable."

You're super involved with Etsy Team Leeds, how has this network helped you develop as a maker and as a businesswoman?
"I love Etsy Team Leeds and I cannot recommend them enough! I've been a member for a few years and mostly use it as a Facebook group full of support and resources. Lots of the members have so much knowledge, it's amazing to be able to get really great free advice from really kind and supportive local peeps. The group run monthly meetings, which I try to get along to, and also incredible events - last year their two day Christmas fair at Leeds Museum was brilliant. Sometimes sitting at home and sewing on your own can feel quite lonely, so to have this group of peers who are so generous with their advice and support is amazing."

You've been crafting since 2008, how has your work changed since you started out?
"When I look at photos of when I first started selling brooches I cringe so much! My blanket stitch looks so messy and my designs are really warped and DIY. I did a History degree and have no training in sewing, but I didn't really think about how that might hold me back and instead just started making. 

I used to make sooo many different designs of brooches, and none of them were the same. As I gradually got much better at sewing I decided to make my brooches to order online, mostly because I absolutely hate photographing and listing items so each one being unique made no sense. This was probably the biggest step towards me thinking of my business as a brand. 

I love that I now make work that people actually recognise as mine, and I'll never grow tired of compliments on my neat blanket stitch by lovely folks at fairs. 

My business grew out of a love for creating something and although I'm hugely admiring of people who create a wonderful brand from day one I think that if you're making because you love to make then you should just go for it! 

It's taken quite a long time for me to stop doubting that my work is valid, because of not having any kind of training in the arts I do feel like I'm winging it, but being accepted to amazing fairs like Renegade Craft fair in London and the Hepworth and Northern Craft fairs has given me so much new confidence in what I'm doing. 

I would never have been chosen for Northern Craft back when I started, but I'd never have the business I have now if I hadn't taken stacks of wonky handmade brooches to indiepop festivals back in 2008 and slowly become more excited by some designs over others. Back when I started the aim was to make fun items to make people smile, and this hasn't really changed, now I just also aim for my work to look professional too!"

Which stall at Northern Craft are you most looking forward to seeing?
"I'm so so excited for Northern Craft Fair! It's going to be absolutely packed with sellers I admire. I've been pouring over photos of Kerrie ALDO's cute mod clothing online and can't wait to try on a jacket. I'm going to treat myself to a plant and pot from geo-fleur and can't wait to see WitShopuk's stall after being blown away by their set up at the Hepworth's Christmas fair. I'm hoping to also take some pocket money for pins from various sellers."

Amy will be selling her work on both days at our Summer Fair

Interview with Sarah from Geo Heaven by Northern Craft

We spoke to Sarah of Northern Craft Fair newcomer Geo Heaven about working a 6-11 job and bringing nerdiness to jewellery making.

Who are you and what do you do? 
I'm Sarah and I run Geo Heaven. I make 3D printed geometric jewellery.

We love your geometric designs, they're intriguing and there's an element of nerdiness to the fascination they evoke. What gave you the idea for 3D printed, geometric jewellery?
I am and always have been a bit of a geek; I loved Maths at school and I have a chemistry degree. I wanted to make jewellery that was geeky but modern and 3D printing fitted the bill! I have always loved geometric shapes and symmetry and this has inspired all of my pieces so far.

You launched Geo Heaven last year, how have you balanced your day job with launching and managing your own business?
I launched Geo Heaven back in November 2016 and I still work full time, completing all Geo Heaven work in the evenings and at the weekends. I have a busy day job and a very active social life so the only way I've managed to stay on top of things is by creating lists, working late where necessary and planning ahead. Don't get me wrong there have been occasions where I have had to prioritise the business over personal arrangements but I love running Geo Heaven and I'm happy to invest the time in it. So far it has never felt like a chore. I enjoy keeping active on social media and I have a good network of people online who help to keep me motivated.

You've built a strong Geo Heaven brand and it's obviously been a really important part of your business model so far. What tips would you give to an aspiring maker and small business owner looking to create a successful brand?
I think that branding is vital. People will instantly make a decision about your product based on your branding. 

If you are setting up a business and have made your own logo then try and show it to people other than family and friends to get some honest feedback. Initially I made my own logo and when I showed it to people they made me realise that it didn't represent my products. I hired a graphic designer, Steph of Donut Press, to develop my logo and branding for me. It’s a great idea to put together a mood board of ideas to give your graphic designer something to work with. You can include colours that you like and other logos that you’ve seen that appeal to you. It will help them to understand a little more about your business and give them a starting point. It’s worth investing in your brand and getting your logo right.

Sarah will be selling on Saturday 5th August at Northern Craft Summer Fair.