Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Keep Calm And Carry On and on and on and on

Just type "Keep calm and carry on" into Google images and see how many hits you get! Originally printed up as posters in Britain by the Ministry of Information on the outbreak of World War 2, the handmade community has got hold of it and now it is absolutely everywhere and crafters the world over have wrung almost every last drop of life from it.

Ever the pragmatist, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon before it was too late.

Think Star Wars. Think Yoda. What would the little green Jedi Master say to you if the Dark Side of the Force was stressing you out and getting you down? Calm you must keep and carry on you will, hmmm?

(it really does help if you read that in a Yoda voice. Can't do Yoda? Try Grover from Sesame Street - it's the same thing!)

So here's my take on the Keep Calm phenomenon:

Oh, and I also made some of these:

I'm not sure where the idea came from, it's certainly not mine. I think it was probably something someone shared on Facebook at some point and I filed it away in my mind for future exploitation.

Available from my usual outlets (Etsy and Folksy)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Merchandise for Crafters


Now that I've got my dye sublimation kit up and running, I'm able to start offering a service.
I'll only be talking about mugs in this blog post for the sake of simplicity and clarity, but the range of substrates is huge.

Firstly, make sure you've caught up on these previous posts:

  1. Making Your Art Work For You
  2. Make Your Art Work Harder
  3. Making My Art Work For Me
  4. Under Pressure
  5. Zingy Rocks My World
Now then, there a million things I could suggest to you here, but try this:

If you're a crafter, have a look at your range. Would any of your designs look good printed on say a mug? If you're a painter it might be a good alternative (or sideline) to prints and cards.

Maybe you're a jeweller or a knitter. Would a photo of your work look good on a mug maybe just as a way of showing off what you do when having a coffee with friends, or as a promotional tool.

Or maybe you're thinking of a birthday coming up? Your friend is a dog lover and a mug featuring a photo of your friend's pet would be the perfect affordable gift! Perhaps you took a photo on holiday that you'd like on a mug? Personalised father's/mother's day gift? Put your thinking caps on and you'll come up with a ton of uses.

Well, you could go to Vistaprint or Funky Pidgeon, or you could keep it personal and spread the love by using a fellow crafter - me:-)

How it Would Work

You contact me with your idea and possibly your jpegs and I print your mug. Simple! What you do with it is will affect the price. A mug for your own use or gift is one price. A mug you want to sell online, from a shop, or at a craft fair will have a slightly different price. The amount of mug coverage and colour/b&w will affect the price too, but we're talking pennies. Conatct me for a quote - you'll be amazed when I undercut the big boys.

When you buy mugs from me, you have to add postage. This makes your selling price a little higher than you might like, but I have a solution. Oh yes! Once you've bought a couple of mugs to examine, keep, sell, give away, photograph for your own promotion, we can talk about a dropshipping arrangement.


Dropshipping is a great way of saving you money. You think a mug featuring your image would be popular but you don't know how popular. So how many do you order? Oh dear, you can't afford that, and look at the postage! 
You photograph and promote the mug you buy from me just as you would for any of your items. When you get an order, you send it to me along with a paypal payment for whatever split we decide on. I print and ship the mug for you. 
You 're not paying for anything upfront. You're not paying postage twice. You're not holding a ton of stock. You can afford to take a risk with a mug you're not sure would be popular because you're not paying for it upfront. Theoretically, you could have an online shop with hundreds of different mug designs and not spend a penny on stock! 

So there you go. Get in touch if you need more information or would like to discuss a design

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Zingy Rocks My World!

A tricky choice of viewing in tv tonight - Eurovision or Norway v England. Luckily The Hump was first to perform on Eurovision so I watched that then turned over. Great song but it's a grower and not an instant tune. Then it's a ballad and there are 25 more songs to come, so poor Englebert will be forgotten by voting time.

Now it's half time in the football so time to get down with the coolest advertising character since Flat Eric (remember him?) - EDF Energy's loveable Zingy the dancing flame . If you're in the UK you can't fail to have seen him. Here's a reminder though:

Crazily, EDF haven't tried to cash in on all the Zingy love with a range of merchandise yet - they'd make a fortune! Just look for Zingy on Ebay and you'll see the craft world hasn't been slow to grasp the opportunity!
Mrs Gelert Design adores him, so as a surprise I made her a Zingy mug - an opportunity to win brownie points with her indoors and gain more experience with my new dye sublimation printing setup.

Of course, always one to try and exploit a marketing opportunity, and until EDF Energy realise what they're missing, I printed a few more mugs and put them up for sale to see if I couldn't begin to recoup some of the money I've invested in my new printing venture.

So far so good!

He's available on Ebay, and in both my Etsy and Folksy shops. Here's a photo:
Isn't he just the best?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Under Pressure

Here at Gelert Design Towers I'm getting closer to achieving the goal of having a whole range of merchandise available!

The sublimation printer hasn't arrived yet, but the heat press has!

This is a 5 in 1 combination heat press. Ideally you'd want to buy different presses for different applications. With the combi press, if one things breaks, it all breaks, and it's quite fiddly changing over from one application to another. But with that risk and nuisance factor aside, this is a good way to start off.

The 5 different presses included are for 11oz mugs, baseball caps, 2 sizes of plate, and lastly the main platen for everything big and/or flat, like t-shirts, mouse mats, iphone covers, and even flip-flops!

It's still in the box right now as some careful negotiation with Mrs Gelert Design is required as to where I'm allowed to set up. She's already lost the entire kitchen:)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Making my art work for me!

So I wrote a couple of posts recently about how you can find various applications for your design/painting to make it keep working for you rather than being a OOAK piece that you sell and forget. Whether this be as a mug, t-shirt or mousemat, it's a whole new earning opportunity.

Having spent quite some time looking at the companies who offer this service, it occured to me that I could actually just invest in Gelert Design and learn to do it myself. Couldn't I?

It's far from cheap, but as well as creating ranges of my own designs I could surely offer a service to other crafters such as... well, you, maybe! By concentrating on small runs and one-offs at rates that compete with the big boys, this service could even become my main source of income with my existing Gelert Design work becoming something of a side project.

Early days, but I've started my investment in the future by purchasing this rather nifty Ricoh sublimation printer:

Not cheap for an A4 machine and the cost of the sublimation inks is horrendous, but it's too late now - I'm speculating to accumulate. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Adventures In Fishing (pt 1)

I did threaten to blog about my fishing trips once in a while. I make no apologies for it - everyone needs a hobby! And while you may see some lovely sights during a walk in the country, you'll see a whole lot more sitting still on the water's edge for hours on end.

You may see a kingfisher once in a while on your walk, but we saw them numerous times every fishing session during the summer - electric blue flashes of colour shooting past, sometimes in pairs. Although it hasn't happened to me yet, I've seen photographs by other anglers of kingfishers perching on their fishing rods!

Otters, once a real rarity in the UK are increasing in numbers. Yes, very cute, but as an apex predator they're becoming a real problem on some rivers, and have famously decimated the barbel population on the Bristol Avon.

But it's currently the closed season on the rivers, and we can't fish them until June 16th. Fair enough, give the fish a break and let them have their breeding season in peace.  Commercial fisheries, on the other hand, can opt in to their own close season, so the obsessed angler can fish 365 days a year if he so chooses.

I had considered reviewing various fisheries on this blog, but that might be a little unfair on those that don't live up to expectations. So they'll get mentioned but not reviewed. No doubt the better angler can have success on a challenging water that would defeat me anyway. I just need to be a better fisherman!

Yesterday my mate Andy and I visited Windmill Fisheries in Bristol for the 2nd weekend running. Having blanked the weekend before, we went with a new strategy. However, our luck wasn't much better. Windmill is only 2 years old and hopefully will improve as it matures. But for now it's just too hard a water for the pleasure angler. Andy did catch something, but as you can see, he won't be bragging about it too much! :)

Andy's perfect little mirror carp
By late morning we had had enough and decided to up sticks and drive to a more scenic (and indeed prolific) venue in Somerset. Landsend Fishery. We never fail to have a fantastic day when we come here, and really get our money's worth. However, chances are we won't return too often as they have banned floating bread, and that is my preferred carp method.

Very little in life sends the heart racing as much as seeing dark shadows moving up under your floating piece of white bread, the water churning up and suddenly a very loud slurping noise as the carp attempts to suck in your bait!

I did manage a new personal best yesterday along with perhaps as many as 20 other decent fish, and although Landsend has even bigger fish lurking in its depths, the rules there are a problem (for me at least) and so I'll be trying to persuade Andy to drive somewhere new for our next adventure - he'll do almost anything for a pint of Thatchers!

New PB carp

Friday, 18 May 2012

Make Your Art Work Harder

Continuing on from yesterday's post which concentrated on just one design, today I'll talk about reproducing your paintings.

I don't know about you, but even a small painting can take me a full week to finish. (Note to self - write a blog post about the stages of a painting.) Not (yet!) being a big name artist, expecting people to pay a realistic price for my work is unreasonable. While I have had offers of £1700 for a painting in the past, the usual going rate is around £250 and often a lot less just to get some money coming in.

That's not strictly true though - the usual state of affairs is that the painting remains unsold or it's a gift or the good lady claims it as hers as with the following examples:


Claimed by Mrs Gelert Design

Now, what happens when a painting has mass appeal? Once it's sold it's gone and an opportunity missed, so what to do to make this piece keep working for you even after it's left your hands? Well, get it reproduced of course! You could do very well for yourself if you picked up a contract with someone like Athena, Hallmark, Ikea or even Wilkinsons, but this post will concentrate on doing it for yourself.

If you're sending your work to a printer digitally, be sure to convert the file to CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow blacK) and don't leave it as RGB (Red Green Blue) as the colours won't be true even though they look fine on your own screen. Check out these 2 examples:



The first is the original, the second is a greeting card print that used RGB instead of CMYK. You can see there's a lilac tinge to everything:/ So make sure you've got your CMYK sorted and save yourself some money!

Prints are great, but don't simply get copies run off at your local copyshop! Ensure you're going to a proper fine art printer who will give you good giclee prints on acid free papers etc. The problem with prints is that they can be quite expensive to get made if you're on a budget. Plus the buyer has to factor in the cost of framing. If you believe in your work, then by all means get your limited edition prints run off, but don't stop there! As I said in my last post, the possibilities are almost endless:

Again, there is an initial outlay so it comes back to the suitability/popularity of your painting. You might want to consider other, cheaper options in the first instance to get your work out there and help gauge the public reaction. If they prove popular you'll soon be well on your way to making the money you need to get your proper prints done! You can go to a printers such as Vistaprint and get a whole range of items made up featuring your work - keyrings, coasters, mousemats and magnets.

Personally, I've yet to come up with a painting that I think would be popular enough to reproduce in this manner. I tend to paint the landscapes and castles of North Wales. Perhaps reproduced as the merchandise above they would prove popular in the CADW giftshops. It's something I've been meaning to get round to doing for a good 2 years already - maybe I'm just scared of rejection!?

So for now I've been investing in cards. Vistaprint and Moo are worth investigating to get small runs or greeting cards and postcards made. Here's a selection I currently have available in my Etsy and Folksy shops:




Rhos Quarry

Another avenue is the ACEO. It's beyond the scope of this post to explain what ACEOs are, so follow this link for a fuller description: Artist trading cards. As an ACEO is just a small painting, these too take me far too long to produce to be cost effective as one-offs so signed and numbered prints are a good way to go. They have to sell for just a couple of quid each, but I had 100 of each of mine printed for just over £20 in total. They've paid for themselves already and I still have plenty left - pure profit:-)
Cnicht form Croesor



Hill Farm

South Stack
Again. all available from my online shops.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to make your art work harder for you and fulfil it's earning potential. Just remember - you have to speculate to accumulate.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Making your art work for you

Everyone recognises Van Goch's "Sunflowers" or "Starry Night", but is that because we are familiar with the paintings themselves or because we are bombarded with reproductions everywhere we look?

T-shirts, mouse-mats, mugs, calendars, badges, ties, scarves, calendars, notebooks, clocks, keyrings, cards, jewellery, phone covers, posters, prints, clocks, stickers, coasters, magnets, tote bags and even underwear are all commercially available featuring these iconic images!

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not from a purist's point of view, but for those who wish to make a living from their art rather than live the Romantic dream, surely it's worth investigating?

There is a value (and possibly moral) judgement each individual must make, but for me it is a simple decision - consumerism wins!

No doubt every painter out there has investigated the viability of having prints made of their work. The cost is a massive factor and you don't want to be stuck with 250 prints you can't sell.

My first forays into reproduction came in my art college days when for a printing project I produced t-shirts and album cover for a band I used to play in. Ah those heady days when anything and everything were possible and reality had yet to make inroads into our lives!

When the band New Model Army released their classic "Thunder and Consolation" album in 1989 I, along with just about everyone else, was impressed with the sleeve artwork.

Suddenly celtic art was mainstream - or at least as mainstream as counter-culture can get! This design has become synonymous with the band over the years, with fans often having it tattooed on their bodies - a membership badge for the exclusive 'fanclub'

When I began to explore celtic art further, I found the above design in George Bain's influential book Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction

Apparently it's an ancient pictish stone carving found in Meigle, Perthshire, Scotland (though I have yet to find photographic evidence of the stone)

When Gelert Design was set up late in 2009, it was all about creating reproducible products. My preferred sculpting method is carving plaster. Plaster isn't satisfactorily durable and the time it takes me to produce a piece makes it prohibitively expensive to buy. So Gelert Design is all about making silicone moulds of my carvings and reproducing them in resin. Can you see where this is going? ;)

As soon as I felt myself competent enough, I contacted New Model Army regarding a hole in their merchandise range - fridge magnets! It's all very well selling the latest band t-shirt, hoodle, and silver pendant, but the fans are an obsessive lot (and I should know, I'm one of them!), always after something else - bootlegs, a hat, a mug, socks...

I was asked to send some samples and they were immediately approved! Gelert Design had it's first wholesale order! Of course, the 'Thunder and Consolation' design was one of the most popular designs. The current range of New Model Army fridge magnets are available from their online shop

Now, New Model Army don't own this design - it was created by the pictish people after all. You may be familiar with it as it's the logo of film company Legendary Pictures, makers of 300, The Dark Knight, Where The Wild Things Are, Clash of the Titans etc etc.

While it's all very well having a painting that can be reproduced on aprons, it needs to be a design that people actually want. This will always be the problem when you want your art to work for you. I've yet to come up with my own Hello Kitty! But I have already sculpted something that is fairly popular... 

Seeing as how no one owns the design but it is associated with the band, movies, the celts and picts, it seemed a good image to reproduce a la Vincent Van Goch. I have already made the moulds and the versatility of resin means various finishes and fillers can be introduced to create a vast range.

From that one initial mould for a fridge magent, I was able to cast in bonded brass, bronze, copper, aluminium, epoxy, polyester and polyurethene!

Here's a gallery of items I have made using just that one mould  - tealight holders, brooches, pendants, and trinket boxes:

Of course, it doesn't end there! Carving the design in different sizes allowed me to produce clocks and belt buckles!

(All the above can be purchased from my Etsy and Folksy shops)

It doesn't end there of course, the design still has legs - I've made engraved glass coasters for instance. Now I just need to think of the next adaptation!

So in conclusion, reproducing art works for me. It's just a question of finding a popular design and then the sky's the limit!

I'd be interested in hearing your views for and against the argument for adapting art, and of course any ideas as to how I can use the design next:-)

Friday, 11 May 2012

Here we go then!

So, having been signed up to Blogger for nearly two years, it's about time I started writing something!

First up is that I'm pretty much all about crafting with the added interests coping with ME/CFS, and fishing. So this blog will be about my adventures in crafting with maybe the odd fishing trip report thrown in.

Gelert Design is my Etsy store where you can see and maybe even buy some of the things I make.