Last night I was sitting in a pub discussing art!
Loving art, making art. Buying art, selling art.
The five women I was discussing art with are all local artists and we will be exhibiting, selling and making merry at Salisbury Christmas market starting on Thursday (24th of November - 4th of December).
We were discussing our prices, how many cards to take, what size prints, where to place a print racks and how many originals we might be able to squeeze into our beautiful Christmas chalets. One of the artists, Sally Firino, told us about the "Just a card" campaign and it really struck me how important this is this Christmas.
Just a card began with a simple quote.
“If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”
The buying public said they were often embarrassed to make a small purchase as they felt it appeared mean. People always need cards, but any item lovingly created is surely worthy of a purse raid...
Whilst you are doing your Christmas shopping, don't feel embarrassed if all you buy from us is Just a card - you'd be amazed at how that helps.
For an independent, sole trader simply setting up a small market stall is a huge undertaking. It's not just about getting enough stock printed and wrapped but it's about all of the things you have to do to make that stand beautiful, the checklist is endless: fairy lights PAT tested, tool box, exhibition box, card payments, shelves, boxes, cases, tables. Fireproofing your tablecloths! Seriously. There are any number of things, other than the items themselves that we will need to bring. This perhaps explains why some things that you buy from a local artisans might be a little bit more expensive than if you buy it in Tesco's, but I urge you, with all my heart, resist the temptation of buying a print from a big department store this year and buy one from a local artist and if you can't buy a print actually just a card is still appreciated.
I have done several art fairs, agricultural shows, and craft fairs this year and happily it's been a good year. But at every single event, without fail, I will hear other artists waxing lyrical about "if every single person who said they loved my work had bought something this would've been an amazing fair".
I also keep on hearing about people lamenting the loss of independent shops and restaurants, sad that the High Street that they walk down looks exactly the same as the High Street at the other end of the country because everything is owned by huge multinational companies. And how many of us have been very upset to discover that some of these huge companies don't appear to be paying the tax that they perhaps should be?
So this year my challenge to you is to go and buy something from an independent maker. If you're in Salisbury I'd love to see you at Salisbury Christmas market where I can absolutely guarantee there will be some amazing Christmas gifts for you to be able to buy for your close friends and family. But across the country there will be small independent businesses who will be delighted if you pop in and buy from them - even if its only a small purchase. We absolutely need the support of the people around us. There may be a tightening the belts happening this year for a variety of reasons, but whatever your Christmas budget try to make sure a small portion of it is spent in an independent shop, or with an independent artist, or with a local farmer. You might not be able to measure the difference that you make but if every single one of us started with "just a card", some independent businesses will be able to keep going into 2017.
Remember too, if you pick up somebody's business card or postcard please stick it on the fridge for future reference as we would love to hear from you at a later date. I had an email from a lovely couple four months after they first saw a big painting of mine at one of the agricultural shows that I did this summer. They contacted me months later with an email asking if the painting they loved was still available. I was delighted to package that painting up and send it to them. I'm so pleased they kept my postcard so that they could contact me later on.
So start with just a card. And if you really really love the work and you're able to buy more than just a card then all the better.
You'll be making Christmas amazing...for quite a few of us!