I was recently asked by the organisers of the London graduate show ‘New Designers’ to share my success story of exhibiting at One Year On within their blog. This reminded me that I had meant to do my own post before the deadline to apply for this year, which is the 30th January. For those of you that are not familiar with the event, it is an exhibition within New Designers for people that are in their first year of business & covers all the disciplines that are included in the main show. It is such an amazing opportunity, and if you are thinking of doing any freelance surface pattern design then I would urge you to apply.
One Year On really launched my new business. In my first year of trading (with little trading actually going on!) I totally lacked direction. I was in the phase of trying a whole heap of different things & trying to figure out which ways I may be able to monetise my designs . Being selected for the exhibition gave me a great confidence boost and I was so excited about showcasing my pattern designs on the small range of wallpaper & accessories that I had developed.
I met a huge range of interesting people at the show, most were involved in home decor and stationery as that was who my stand was designed to attract. My favourite moments included a chat with the designers at Harlequin who were top of my list in terms of dream clients, and also the trends team at Wilkinson among many others.
To cut a long story short, I went on to receive a huge commission to design a range of vintage inspired stationery. Not only did I get to produce the designs, but I got to apply them to the actual production templates so that I had control over how the finished products looked. I also got a lot of promotion from Wilkinson, including having my name & photograph in every Wilkinson store next to my range, and having my range showcased on their stand at New Designers the following year. This led to further work, confidence and focus for my business as I realised I wanted to work with brands directly and commissions is where my sweet spot is.
3 Reasons why you should apply for the show
1. Buyers love to find undiscovered, new & raw talent, that is why many attend this particular show. They are looking for designers that have a unique signature style to anything out there on the market at that moment. Even if their work is not completely polished, they know that designers are at the stage where they will take advice well and their approach can be moulded to fit in with what they are looking to sell (this would apply to the show as a whole).
2. Having said that, companies usually make sure to visit One Year On as they know that the products or designs may be more commercially ready for sale, or that designers have more experience with commissions.
3. One Year On is a small section of the show, so if a buyer makes a point of visiting this part of the exhibition, then chances are they will see your work. If you compare this to other trade exhibitions, a small stand (which lets face it is all we can afford at in the first year) can get lost amongst thousands.
I hope anyone who is considering producing surface pattern on a freelance basis will consider applying, you would of course need to develop a product line of some sort in addition to your pattern portfolio, whichever industry you are aiming for. I went with wallpapers, lampshades and cushions, it doesn’t need to be a huge range as long as it has impact. If you have already registered your business then you won’t get this chance again! Don’t forget the deadline is the 30th January, you can apply here now.