Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Visit to Spring Fair International 2014


Yesterday I made my way to the NEC in Birmingham to see my work on display at Spring Fair International 2014 on stand 4F75, Art Eco Designs. After catching three trains, eating a very full packed lunch and reading The i newspaper cover to cover I finally arrived.  I headed straight to the stand to meet up with the Art Eco Designs team as I've not seen them face-to-face since last Spring Fair and it's fair to say we've worked on a lot of new designs together since then.

And this is what greeted me when I reached their stand...

I was so pleased and so proud.  It was a very bright and cheerful site and it certainly made all the hours spent working into the night worth every minute.  It was great to see the team again and I'd like to say a huge thanks to them for letting me take all these photos and generally cause a distraction as usual.

Spring Fair for me is all about catching up with people and stepping back to get a different perspective on the work I've done.  It's also about having a good look around at the greetings and gifts sector to gain lots of inspiration for the coming year.  It's hard to describe, but this is when my work begins to feel 'real' to me, because I can see how it sits in the bigger picture of the international greetings and gifts market.  I always come home with a stronger sense of purpose and desire to get more done - it truly is a very inspiring place to visit...

As this is a trade show aimed specifically at retail buyers, I can't really show you photos of other stands (taking photos is frowned upon). So this blog post will only feature my work.  However, I can summarise in words, some of the things I saw yesterday and give you a bit of a review of the emerging themes and trends you can expect to see hitting the shops in the next 12 months...

Fans of woodland themes (especially owls, foxes, bunnies and birds) are going to love 2014 as this theme was everywhere.  There were lots of British wildlife, botanical and ornithological imagery there, all done in a very 'field study' way with a modern take on vintage styles.  Colours were more muted, lots of neutrals, ochres, greens, teals, and water colour washes with pen and ink - all mixed with a little bit of a contemporary version of Victorian decoupage (the way images are layered).  Traditional letterpress printing techniques were very popular too as were lots of classic vintage typography from the turn of the 20th Century and the early 1950s.  Displays on stands featured vintage typewriters and distressed wooden letter racks... 

The other good news for fans of all things hand-crafted is it was very apparent that the success of the handmade market is really influencing retail (which is no doubt why Kirstie Allsopp was a highly featured guest speaker of the week).  These retail producers are sitting up and taking note because there was a lot more attention paid to hand-finishes, hand-crafted, eco friendly and locally sourced details...

It was interesting to see significantly less cupcakes and baking imagery, but lots of nods to camper vans and gardening, beaches and the great outdoors.  Scandinavian geometric patterns and colours are still very popular.... 

This year, the stand that made me smile lots and want to linger the most was Paper Salad's.  They really were a blast of colour and joy and they keep a lovely blog too, which is well worth a follow.  Here it is:

The best bit about the day was meeting up with some of my artist and maker friends.  It was so lovely to be able to walk around and see stuff and bounce ideas of each other.  There is so much to see at Spring Fair, it really blows your mind and it takes a few days to make sense of it all.  It's so good to be able to share that experience with similar minded people who work in the same isolated sort of way.  As you can imagine, we talked A LOT ! 
Thank you so much for great company and a lovely day out ladies!

Here we all are, with thanks to Martin at Art Eco Designs for taking this photo of (from Left to Right):
Yours Truly, Julia Crossland (Julia Crossland Art),  Andrea Berry (Polka), Kate Brazier (KateCreates).

I highly recommend a visit to Spring Fair or Autumn Fair in September if  you'd love to see your work in high street shops but are a bit unsure about how to go about putting the right sort of collection together.  
One visit is guaranteed to spark creative thinking in new and exciting ways.

Have a lovely week
Best Wishes