A short interruption to bridal week...
...just to have a slight moan about how broken my brain is this afternoon ;-)
Tax Return today. Yes, I always end up leaving it to the last minute, but hey ho. It's always fun (depressing) seeing exactly where your cashflow goes, haha! Over 2014-2015 our biggest expenses were rent, then wages... not mine by the way, I've never given myself a proper wage (and I appreciate "proper" means different things to different people, to me I suppose it means "not living hand-to-mouth") for the daft reason that many artists give: "having a creative job is payment alone!" Yeah it is, but after a few years you do wish you had more spare pennies to do other things too. Then the expenses that go into online communication (website, etsy, etc. etc.) are third in line, then utilities.
The other outgoings are pretty small, by comparison. Well, supplies are super-expensive, but their expense is in direct relation to the amount of work you have, whereas the other things are largely fixed. So yeah, that's where most of our money goes and of course the challenge for my business is always to minimise those outgoings and/or build the ingoings. I had minimised outgoings by about £5k from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015, but I would like to bring them down further still. Free up some monies to take a proper wage (and possibly afford a horse, in future!). Because though I absolutely love my work, these days I would like to have room in my head for other things too. To perhaps make fewer bespoke pieces at an ever higher quality and aesthetic, and to therefore have a smaller business, in some ways.
Anyway, trying to stay on top of all this stuff takes a lot of effort in itself, even before I've drafted a pattern or made a stitch. Those considering creative self-employment, be aware that it's possible that not even half of your time will be spent actually making stuff. Those commissioning corsetmakers like myself, be aware that most of us aren't earning any proper money even when we are prolific and making high-value items.
And so, a full day of computers and numbers means I am now struggling to function! I have some emails to catch up on, Winter Sale customers who want to know more detail about their favourite pieces, etc., but I will get on top of those tomorrow when I once again feel like I can string a useful sentence together without rambling my way into a tangent or falling asleep on the keyboard.
In the meantime, it really dawned on me that aside from Bridal Week I should have written some posts about couture (it's that time of year, after all). About what it means to me and why I use it as a key inspiration. Perhaps I'll write something on that next week.
Yesterday was the stables, as usual for a Wednesday in 2016, and it was lovely. Few hours of chores, then working with a couple of horses around lunchtime. Warm weather (apparently we're getting some of that big storm from across the Atlantic), with only a bit of rain. Often I want to tell anyone and everyone all about the stables but then realise that a lot of it will be of little interest to anyone except the horse-mad! For me it's an absolute treat though. Every time I'm there (and on the days in-between, when I get to read and research) I learn something new. Or something I had forgotten since last being involved in horses. Tiny details. It's great. But such is personal study and development, that fact that I now know what a "roach back" is isn't going to be exciting and stimulating to anyone but me.
Did I share this on the blog already? Lovely Angela Stringer Corsetry bought one of our lace goody bags (which are currently on offer in the Winter Sale) a while ago, in gorgeous Hydrangea shades that I had thought she'd like. She's currently embellishing a black underbust with it, and it's looking absolutely stunning.
You know, this time ten years go I was getting my final pieces ready at uni in order to put on a show and graduate from my Fine Art degree. I did a silly installation. There was a velvet, padded "pool" in the floor (like the mossy floor of a forest, but in blood red) with a large papier maché tree and hand-sewn holographic fabric unicorn in the centre. The unicorn had a rather mane of chartreuse feathers and small rubbery frogs and lizards climbing up his hind end. I remember sitting in the sunshine at our local park, stitching his legs together. A black papier maché ocelot was covered in pearls and bits of broken charity shop jewellery, like snow on his back. Feather wings and horse and bird head masks were scattered about, along with small birds covered in glitter. It was all very daft, because what else was I meant to do? If you attempted anything heart-felt or expressive (or even just beautiful) you felt that it wasn't approved of. Contemporary art wasn't meant to be about that, it was meant to be self-reflexive, clever, and made with simple, broad strokes. Nothing twiddly or luxurious or baroque. So in my very mild way I rebelled by making silly escapist bits and bobs.
We had a shared student house with bright orange walls in the living room. I had a tiny attic room at the top with sloping ceilings and a dormer window, always loved rooms like that. I was rather disillusioned with contemporary art after that degree. Never really knew what I was there for... except that I had felt like going to university was expected and art has always been my back-up option since making things comes most naturally to me and can be done even when hiding away in shy isolation!
That final year, I was unsure what to do next. My boyfriend was still studying in Boston USA so I felt kind of at a standstill in terms of where I should move to or such. I thought about trying to sell more horsey drawings and paintings. I thought about trying to retrain as a veterinary nurse (at GSCE age, my intention had always been to go into veterinary or zoology or something similar, but I lost confidence when my dad died and retreated to "easy" art over challenging science), or trying to get work at an animal centre or on the grounds of a big house, something outdoorsy with beasties. Or to continue trying to make and share art, even though I didn't really know where my work would fit or what it was for. And eventually I fell into corsetry (kind of as a more grown-up extension of the silly costume bits and sparkly objects that I had made in that final year of university) and fell in love with it as it was an opportunity to learn something skilled and intricate.
I suppose a lot has happened since then, but (and I think this might be a trait of creative sorts) I tend to always be thinking about "the next thing" to the extent that everything that's gone before can seem sort of indifferent. I'm proud of my work but often think, "whatever, that's done, what's next?!"
So... what next? You'll have to wait and see, because hell, I don't even know! Exciting and curious times.