As you know I am mad about my feathered gang, they supply endless joy, inspiration and muddy boots!
After a tentative year setting up my new business, illustrating and designing fabrics and mug designs, I was asked if I made greetings cards? Well why not I thought. Certainly affordable if you love many designs and even though we rely so heavily on social media, there is still something wonderfully personal and special, when receiving hand written letters or cards.
In a country where art you would feel would have its representation so easily, France turns out to be a difficult source of printed matter. Glicee printing that they invented is hard to find and prohibitively costly. Our little artist forums are full of similar questions, where to source paper, paints, printing. Unbelievably we mostly resort to England, Poland and Germany. Is it a Protestant inclination, a wish to encourage art amongst the masses? I find often French protectionism, the pigeon holing of skills into say fine art verses applied art in a time where on-line business needs to be encouraged, frustrating. Here you have to register in specific tax schemes and business structures merely because you paint on a structure that isn’t canvas. If you want to sell prints of an original painting, you need a different structure, although recently under pressure from artists, the rule is you can now print a limited edition run of 30 and still keep your fine art status.
I can see it is good to protect your uniqueness as a country, it is something sad that this has been lost extensively in England, with manufacturing and Britush goods in decline. My last visit to London to the Tower Of London shop was met with almost ninety-five percent made in China labels…what must the tourists think! The lovely gift shop of British goods at St Pancras Station was hidden obscurely on the second floor far away from the rest of the retailing footfall….and the prices were high too, making its longevity unlikely.
So one of my reasons for starting my business was to encourage local entrepreneurship, to join my fellow French artists group and bring back designing to Europe. My fabrics are printed and more often than not woven in Europe, or at very least in Pakistan or India, our traditional fabric weaving partner historically. For my ceramics, I am sourcing from Limoges the famous porcelain city in France, just an hour from me and I have Aubusson close too, so tapestry wools and canvas will be easy to source.
I managed to find a printing company in Ashford, Kent for my cards and prints and I love that I can chat anytime to get updates on my orders or discuss bespoke options. They print with gallery grade papers and will do short runs which, as a newbie business, is great. Most of my orders so far have been bespoke and it gives me control over quality. Likewise my customers can also tailor their orders and its been wonderful creating for them and making new friends along the way. I have always been nervous leaving everything out of my hands.
I create collections every three months and adapt for ceramics, fabrics or print. These cards were from an illustration I made for a larger painting but seemed well suited for a greetings card set. I hope these will be well received and I can design further packs as they are fun to do without the pressure fabrics involve with pattern matching, weaves to account for in the print detail and obviously weight and cost to send.
These cards are 48cm x 48cm, a good size to show images. I like boarders and stripes as they unify a collection and I hope they will be available at my shop next month.
A few links:
Art4site – Printing gallery quality cards and prints
HandprintedUK – Printing supplies and courses
Jackson Art Supplies – Art supplies
Ironbridge Gunnings Art – Flatbed, roller print presses