Hi Laura! So you built your own arts market... was that a scary thing to get off the ground?
I think starting any new project can be quite daunting and I didn’t have any experience in events, so in that sense it was quite scary - but I do love a challenge. My main concern with Capstan’s Bazaar was getting a good range of amazing local artists and makers on board and making sure that the events would be well attended. I suppose in a way it’s like that fear of organising a party and no one turning up. Very early on I knew the way to remedy this fear was to really push the promotion of each market, making sure as many people knew about it as possible. I’ve discovered that I do actually really enjoy working in events, but it’s by no means easy!
The arts and crafts markets started at LEAF on Bold Street, and then grew quite quickly from 14 stalls to 50 stalls in the WAXXX warehouse (now Constellations) in The Baltic Triangle. It was then that we started to incorporate different types of sellers (food, records, vintage etc) to create more of a traditional artisan market vibe. This was probably the most nerve wracking time - the workload doubled and we were trying something very new, outside the city centre, in a venue not many people knew existed. Throughout this year we’ve been doing regular markets at Constellations and more recently have branched out to pop up markets at festivals and other art venues across the region.
What was lacking in other craft and vintage fairs that you made you want to build your own?
Two of my friends who were running markets at LEAF decided to take a break from organising them and asked me if I’d like to take over. I thought it was important for them to continue, so I agreed. As a stall holder who’d taken part in a number of different events I had a good idea of what worked with markets and what didn’t. I wouldn’t say it was about what was lacking in other fairs - there’s some fab fairs in and around Liverpool - it was more a case of creating an event that offered a platform for stallholders like myself to sell their work/products to a receptive audience. What I’ve always said and continue to stand by is that Capstan’s Bazaar is only as good as the quality of our stall holders - we couldn’t do an event without them. We wanted to showcase the best the region had to offer in arts, crafts, artisan foods etc and hopefully we are doing just that.
The other thing is the promotion of each event - we spend a lot of time and money on print and online marketing, and designing the Capstan’s Bazaar brand to make sure it reflects our ethos. At the end of the day if you have amazing stall holders but no one is coming to buy from them, then it’s all a bit pointless. You need both elements to make a really great event. We have always tried to ensure at our bigger events that we have a good mix of different sellers and have activities for families and children to get involved with. I think it’s great for people to come and enjoy making some artwork, as well as buying some.
You also have a brand, Laura Kate Draws - what sort of things do you create?
All sorts really; at the moment I sell a range of illustrated mugs, art prints, greetings cards, printed crockery and T-shirts. Everything is designed by me and where possible made by myself too. I also work on lots of different commissions, the most recent being illustrations for an anti-stress adult colouring book, which was really fun to work on.
I’m currently in the process of opening a screen print studio called “The Paper Moon” with my friend, illustrator Jo Wilson (That Girl), based in Constellations. Over the coming months I’m hoping to create a whole new range of screen printed products, so watch this space!
You went from art student to being paid for your illustration work. It's a dream for most creatives, so do you have any advice for emerging artists?
A lot of hard work and determination! It may sound very clichéd, but I honestly think that the main piece of advice I would give to newly graduated artists is to just keep plugging away. Getting your work out there as much as possible, whether that be through social media, exhibitions and sending examples of work to prospective clients, to selling online or at craft fairs and events. At the end of the day if no one knows what you do, how are they going to pay you to do it?
The other thing that’s very important is making opportunities for yourself, rather than waiting for them to come to you. The main thing I struggled with was the understanding of all the business side of being self employed - I graduated with no idea of how to tackle this. So I enrolled on the Student Enterprise Programme through Liverpool John Moores’ Centre for Entrepreneurship, which was beyond valuable and I now quite enjoy this side of my work too.
How easy do you think it is for makers and creatives in Liverpool to Build Their Own - is this a place that nurtures creativity?
I think Liverpool is such a creative city in general and the art community is very nurturing - people want to help and give advice which is so important, especially when you’re starting out. I’ve met some amazing and supportive people both from building Capstan’s Bazaar and my own illustration business and I continue to now, with opening The Paper Moon. I think starting any new project or business is daunting, it’s a lot of hard work and you never know if it’s going to pay off. But I think that there’s such a supportive feeling in Liverpool - people are always genuinely interested in what you're creating and want to see you succeed, which is a lovely feeling.
When is the next Capstan's Bazaartaking place, and what other projects do you have coming up?
We have been doing quite a few pop up Capstan’s Bazaars in and around Liverpool including Farm Feast back in June (which was fantastic). Next on the agenda is Liverpool Loves Festival, on 8 August at the Pier Head, Liverpool and then Above the Beaten Track, on 5 September at the Bluecoat. It’s been great popping up at bigger events, as it brings such a varied and new audience to our markets and creates great exposure for our stall holders.
The other big project I’m working on is The Paper Moon. We hope to be fully up and running by the end of August and are putting together a fab workshop on 22 and 23 August for Slavery Remembrance day, that we are really excited for.
Finally, if you had the skills and could build anything... what would it be?
I would love to re-fit an old van to make it into an amazing camper van. I love travelling and the freedom of having a mobile home that you can take off in when the mood strikes you!
Find out more about Laura's work and the opening of her new studio at www.laura-katedraws.com. Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing continues until 31 August at FACT.