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BUSINESS: Face To Face Networking by Mandy Knapp of www.mandyknapp.co.uk


There are many ways in which designer-makers and artists can network. Many websites and on- line groups facilitate such exchange but I want to promote the good old fashioned way of communicating, talking face to face!


You cannot engage with another person in a tangible way through a computer screen, cannot see that twinkling eye, bask in the glow of their artistic passion, shake their hand or laugh with them. It’s so much harder to really “get them.” Of course, designer-makers and artists can blog, Twitter and Facebook effectively to promote their practices but there is no substitute for engaging face to face with other designer-makers and artists, or indeed, the paying public or potential employers.


42 | ukhandmade | Spring 2011


Personally, I found it invaluable to join an adult education class where I not only learnt new skills and techniques but, importantly, was able to share ideas with my classmates which enriched my practice enormously. I was privileged to be invited by a few of those classmates to submit my portfolio for a local art group and was accepted; so began a fabulous journey where I was able to meet more inspiring artists.


We used our collective strengths to promote ourselves and put on 2 or 3 exhibitions of our work annually. I was often given the role of negotiator with the gallery owners because I love to get out and talk with people. A few months after the shows had finished, the gallery owners had further opportunities available and guess who they would contact?


Yes you’ve guessed it….Me. Why? Because my work is of a professional standard, I smiled at them until my face hurt, I answered all their queries and nothing was too much trouble and that’s what makes the difference. The moral of this tale is, get out there and get talking!


If you decide to look for a local artists group, be selective and find one that is going to work for you. If there isn’t one, you could start one up and get together regularly to share ideas with like- minded designer-makers and artists. If you go to shows and fairs, consider walking around and talking to stall holders; they hold a wealth of knowledge about good venues, others that may share your passion or galleries/boutiques to approach.


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