As a self employed designer maker, my job is in the title. I would design, and then make a product to sell. Other tasks involved would vary depending on what I make, but some generic tasks could include: sourcing materials, drawing, designing, using CAD software (Photoshop/Illustrator etc.), attending craft workshops, attending craft fairs to sell products and travelling to get to the fairs, exhibiting work and sewing. There are many other things I may have to carry out in this career, but everything would be very specific and dependant on the final product. I would need to be a very motivated person and practice a lot of self discipline to do this job – I wouldn’t be able to sit at home with a cup of tea, I’d have to be working alongside drinking that cup of tea to make sure I make some money. This is inclusive of a good work ethic, as without it my business wouldn’t succeed. I would need to have good, professional communication skills so that I could sell my work and book table at fairs etc. I would also need to have some business knowledge, time management skills and industry knowledge in order to sell. Without the knowledge of the industry it would be difficult to make a living as I would have to consider: trends, materials, colours, the actual product (e.g. last year tea cosies sold like wildfire, now they don’t. I can’t continue to make teas cosies if they’re not going to sell). Without keeping up to date with the industry and refreshing my knowledge, I would struggle to consider all of those aspects within my work.
In terms of progression, it’s up to the individual. If I make and sell successfully, I could become a well known brand – which could then lead to the setting up of a company; employing staff; charging more for my work; and obtaining a shop or studio. I could also work for a company, which could go down two routes. 1. I provide them with my stock to sell in their stores and gain a commission. 2. I give them a prototype of my product which they then mass produce. As I would likely be self employed or freelance (if working for a company) I wouldn’t be limited geographically in this job. ‘Entry requirements’ (I use the term loosely) would include:
- Experience of business. The best way to get this would be through work experience or a Saturday job.
- A good range of contacts. I would need to be able to get in touch with others to help me sell my work, or even hire an agent to do that for me.
- An art based degree. This isn’t necessarily set in stone, but having a degree would make you more aware of the industry and how it works; and your making skills would be of a much higher standard and better quality.
If I decide this career is one I’d like to pursue, or you would like to pursue it; the places to find more information would be:
- Online. http://www.prospects.ac.uk is a really good site for giving you all of the information you need about a job.
- Speak to other designer makers at trade/craft fairs. Most will be more than happy to talk to you about how to get into this line of work and stay in it
- Complete a work experience shadowing an established designer maker. The insight you would gain from this would be incredibly beneficial.