It’s all in the Drawing…

It’s all in the drawing…

Paula Rego and Peter Randall Page both do it… so does Nic Fiddean Green

Many thanks to Hugh Gilbert for this little email in response to our newsletter

(here’s the text)

Art for Art sake Money for….

It’s all very well whittling on about Art and drawings, but how do you  make a living at this business?

Because that really is the bottom line.

I’ve got to say that not everybody is going to make it as a Designer Maker. It takes great talent and skill over a lot of areas outside of straightforward woodworking to become a successful designer and maker of modern furniture.

But for those of you who are driven, and who are sufficiently driven in this particular direction, we can help you make a successful start.

You have to be good at solving your customers’ problems, giving them superlative service, creating a new furniture image at a price they can afford and at a price that gives you a profit. You have to be good at finding your customers, through exhibitions, through galleries, through Adword campaigns. You have to be good at designing and maintaining and up-keeping your own web site, making and selling small batch products, at writing press releases, taking photographs, writing cash flows and profit and loss accounts. All of these things will keep you awake at night and send you to bed exhausted but very much alive. This isn’t an easy world vocation, people will let you down, customers will not do what they say they were going to do, suppliers will turn up with wet timber, glass cutters will cut glass the wrong size, banks will not lend you money, machines will break and staff will leave when you need them the most. You’ll never make a ton of money but you should be able to support your family and when it comes to kicking off this planet you can look back on a life well spent.

I have a friend of mine who’s a top class graphic artist, he trained about the same time I did in the late 1960’s. What he doesn’t know about Photoshop isn’t worth knowing. Quite literally that. Yet he looks at his screen and hates the time that he spends sitting there. He quite literally cannot learn any more about what he’s doing. I have the benefit of knowing that I’ll never know everything about timber or about furniture or about my customers, or about my students.

If you’re not so bold or driven or adventurous there is still a good living to be made as a maker. With the growth in this market area we are currently seeing workshops competing for skilled or semi-skilled makers. You would need to get yourself into a top class workshop, work your little socks off, be the first one turning up in the morning and be the last one leaving but know that you’re in the best place you could possibly be for learning the next stage in your training as a furniture maker. You’ll find the work incredibly hard, especially in the first quarter of this second year. Get your work reviewed every three months and ask for a modest pay rise as you’ll be getting faster every month you work as you gain confidence with repetition you will be becoming more valuable and more knowledgeable. Stay in a decent workshop for at least a year, possibly two, before moving on as a skilled maker with good employment prospects.

Have a great woodie day
David Savage


David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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