5 years Freelance; a recap and lessons learned

I was making a presentation recently for a talk at UAL for their Careers and Employability department, the topic was; ‘Buy me! Turn your creativity into sellable products’. I decided to present a timeline of how my products, website and photography have evolved and it was such an interesting exercise! Then this week I realised it’s been 5 years since I left my full time job. It’s hard to pin point when I started making my own products as I’ve always enjoyed a bit of crafting but I know that 9 months later; the following Christmas I did my first market selling note books that I’d hand bound in my own fabric. But I’d say that I launched the product side of my business the following May 2015 when I exhibited at the trade show; Pulse on UAL’s group stand. I did the fair hoping to get new clients, but I also started to understand the world of products and wholesale and that I could be a part of that through applying my designs to products. 

First collections launched at Pulse May 2015

First collections launched at Pulse May 2015

Website evolution Left top and bottom were Big cartel stores linked to my website and on the left you can see my current shop from 2018, The most important thing that has changed is my ability to take and style photos!

Website evolution Left top and bottom were Big cartel stores linked to my website and on the left you can see my current shop from 2018, The most important thing that has changed is my ability to take and style photos!

It’s worth noting that making products has always been the ‘side hustle’ to my main income. When I first left my full time job in 2014 (I was one of two textile designers at Oasis Fashions and responsible for half the collection) it was to become a freelance print designer and continue on with what I’d been doing the previous six years. My main clients were high street fashion and I quickly began to feel frustrated, as I’d left to pursue more creative projects, but I was doing the same thing. So I had to start creating the work that I wanted to see in my portfolio, without a client, solely for myself and with the intention to sell! 

2017: expanded range experimenting with new product types

2017: expanded range experimenting with new product types

Last year I worked hard on my product range, styling and photography adding colour and fun to my website

Last year I worked hard on my product range, styling and photography adding colour and fun to my website

That’s where the products began, I needed to show people my ideas and what I can do in the hopes that eventually I would simply be commissioned for my designs and no longer need to make the products. It’s funny because at some point that started happening, PHEW! (Breathe big sigh of relief) But I still carried on designing and making the products, It has became a core pillar of my practice influencing my commissioned work and feeding me creatively, as well as challenging me technically. 

2018: Big variety of products maybe it’s time to simplify?

2018: Big variety of products maybe it’s time to simplify?

I’m now looking to wind down and simplify areas of my product range so that I can focus on commissioned work but I know that creating my own products and designs will always feed and improve my practice as a whole. Big thanks to the Careers and employability team at UAL for supporting me initially in exhibiting at Pulse and for inviting me to present and reflect on this! 

Are you on a product making journey? Do you want to hear more about this? If you have a questions comment below and I’ll get back to you! :D Jacqueline

Markets have been an important way to exhibit my work here I am at The London Illustration Fair Dec 2018

Markets have been an important way to exhibit my work here I am at The London Illustration Fair Dec 2018