Starting out as an artist and beginning to grow my little business – Alice Draws The Line

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Starting out...

I recently wrote this blog post about how, just 5 years ago I was in a completely different career. 

I know that I would have been fascinated to know how to make that pivot before I actually did it, and so I thought I'd write about how I started out as 'Alice Draws the Line' here.

In September 2015 my hours changed at work, due to cuts I went from working full time to three days a week and term time only. For me, this opened the window of possibility for me to see if I could get my sketches out from the sketchbooks and into the world. 

In September I drew some sprouts.

 Sprout illustrations by Alice Draws the Line, how I started out blog post

In November these became one of my first (and still one of my favourite) Christmas Card designs - Twist and Sprout!

 Twist and Sprout Christmas Card by Alice Draws the Line Sprout design

In the December I wrote to Alice Palace - some one I had admired for a long time for how Alice had built her business and all it and she stood for. I wrote to ask if I could come and help in the build up to Christmas as work experience (as a grown up). I was thrilled when she said yes. I spent the day helping to wrap orders and seeing what a day looked like at the Alice Palace HQ. Alice was really great and encouraging and looked at the Twist and Sprout card I'd designed and generally told me to go for it! I went back again to help for another day closer to Christmas and helped wrapping the orders and then taking the trolley loads to the post office with Alice's sister Liz.

In early 2016 I designed this Valentines card.

Nuts about You, starting out by Alice Draws the Line, sending a valentine's card

I posted it to shops and galleries that I enjoy visiting, most were local to me. I chose just 5 and addressed them with my dip pen. I posted them and hoped for the best. 

Starting out by Alice Draws the Line, posting a valentine's card

The next day I had an e-mail from Ludlow Farm shop to say that they'd like to stock my work! The day after, Bartrums in Hay-on-Wye shared the card they had received and announced they'd soon be stocking my work. 

Starting out by Alice Draws the Line, sending a valentine's day card

From 5 cards, I had two responses that resulted in big leaps forward for me. I had a couple of other lovely replies too which were encouraging even though they didn't lead to anything more. 

I arranged a meeting at Ludlow Farm Shop and at that meeting I explained that I hadn't quite got a full range together yet but that I was on the case. There is a gift shop above the food centre and the stairwell provides a good gallery space which they use to exhibit local artist's work. I was asked if I'd like to exhibit. I was thrilled but as it was very early days I had to get a collection together. As such they put me at the back of the list to give me time to prepare, and in November and December of 2016 I had my first exhibition.

Alongside the exhibition I could have cards and an products that I sold and so I used this (and the Christmas shopping season in general) as a deadline to have a range of products designed by. 

As a list writing obsessive and lover of stationery in general creating notebooks was an early choice. As many of my drawings were botanical or had an outdoor theme I decided to have some enamel mugs printed so they could be used outdoors. And so the range began.

 Autumn Enamel mug by Alice Draws the Line

To help me generate subject matter and then products I gave myself a personal project in April and May 2016 - you can read more about those in this blog post. 

I'm so glad I posted those cards and took the chance on how they might be received. Had there been no responses it would only have been a few cards, the stamps and my time lost - nothing in the grand scheme of things.