Wednesday, 29 February 2012


James Donald, is a weaver who dabs his hands into other areas of expertise. For instance take his whisky glasses with a weave pattern on them:

Another inspiring thing about James is that he likes to look at others work (his contemporaries) to help keep his work fresh, I feel this is something we should all take note of. We can constantly learn from others.
My design in the market module group all owe James Donald a huge thank you for all his help and for the badges which he so kindly gave to us. It made my day when I recieved mine!
Thanks James!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Silly Cow exercise...

In the book I have been reading called "Business Model Generation", there is an exercise called "The Silly Cow Exercise" which is mean to help people in business get the creative thinking caps on.

 You first have to say the kind of thing a cow does : produces milk, eats all day, they moo etc
Then they have to come up with an innovative business model based on the cow. They are given approximately 3 minutes to do so.
Warning! It can produce silly answers beware! But it can help enhance your creative thought.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Business Card

I really need to start thinking about getting and designing my own business card, as we have been told in lectures your business card is your brand in their hand. I feel your business card has to convey the right message about you and your work.

The following website I found to be filled with interesting information about business cards, it explains how certain things on your business cards say things about you, it is definitely worth a read:


Looking and seeing what others do is a great way for us to develop. We can constantly learn from others.


Don't be adverse to criticism. We should not runaway from criticism but perhaps embrace it, in order for us to grow and develop in our work.

Giving a Presentation...

We were trying to sort out our presentation today, we were all worrying about all sorts. But one of the things we need to remember is that we are acting we need to put on a performance almost in order to engage our audience. I jokingly said that we should all were crowns and pretend to be drama queens. In order for people to remember you and what you are saying you need to do or say something memorable. Something that is of interest to them. However people differ, so different people will find different things interesting, so unfortunately you can't really please everyone.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Sir Ken Robinson, what an excellent spokesman...
Watch this video, your in for a treat.


There are pros and cons to having an agent after art college, its an idea I have been strongly contemplating with.
Some of the pros:
They can get you out of the "Slush" Pile
Better advances and contracts
More professional at selling work
They know all the legal lingo
Bring you more work
They take a fair amount of commission
Doing it yourself with help build your confidence
Agents represent more than just you.
Moneywise is it worth it?

Taking all of this into consideration I feel it will be more beneficial especially when you are first starting out to have an agent. Its a smart move as they will hopefully be able to put you out there more than you could when doing it on your own, as they have the contacts. As I have discussed before in todays society it is more about who you know rather than what you know...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The James Donald Encounter...

(In photo from left to right: Kirsty Munro, Viv McGregor, Judy Scott, James Donald, Sarah Pitcairn (me), Tarka Heath and Kirsty Marshall)

Our group got to meet James Donald today! Yay!  This is a photo of us all with him after the interview took place. It was a great experience, I felt it was really insightful. It made me feel that even when I do get designers block, just to keep going. Power through Sarah! Power through Sarah! Talking to him made me feel like I can do it. I gained something really positive from today. I am really grateful to James for being able to take time out of his busy life to answer our questions. Thank you, James Donald!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


I was thinking about business and about how you get a job etc. It got me thinking as to a book I read in my second year of uni called "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell , its more about who you know and not necessarily what you know, which if you think about it is perhaps to an extent unfair, given that someone may get a job because they know the person that is hiring well, however there may be other applicants that applied for the jobs that are more qualified and better suited to the job. I suppose its a part of one of lifes lessons and that is, its unfair...

Questions? Questions? Questions?

Today our group for  design and the market module got together and discussed potential questions of which, we are contemplating asking James Donald tomorrow, during his interview with all six of us.
These are the following questions we thought of:

1. How do you feel that your business/craft in effected in this current economic climate?
Have you had to consider giving up the shop or teaching?
What means more to you now?

2. What was your most difficult challenge that you faced when setting up your business
And how did you overcome this?

3. What was your experience like in education?
Explain the benefits and the pitfalls.
Did your experience persuade you to go into teaching? - and why?
Do you keep in contact with the teachers/students from your time in education?

4. What do you think are the key elements to opening and running a successful business within the craft discipline.
How do you feel about expanding your business?

5. How do you get around overcoming designers block?

6. How has your mindset changed on how you would approach your working life, the since you had left Art College?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

7. How do you feel about collaborating with others?

8. What is important when showing your products to a client?

9. How does teaching affect your Pick One business? .

10. Why did you choose constructed textiles?

11. Have you considered using an agent before? If yes why, if no why?

12. How do you prepare for trade fairs?
Do you have a different range of products for the trade fairs and one for the shop?

13. Do you think that your customers that shop within your brand buy because they know about you, are returning and are looking for something specific, or one off customers that tend to buy one off pieces?

14. Why did you diversify into other products (whiskey decanters)?

15. Why did you choose the location of Broughton Street (Edinburgh) for your shop?
Why did you move from the Grassmarket.
Do you feel that the type of ‘passers by’ suits the market you aim for?

16.Why did you choose Leith for your studio?

17. How do you define your niche?

18. What is your mission statement?
What are your working goals?

19. Who inspires you?
Personally or within your field?
Who is your best contact?

20. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

21. How did you begin your relationship with CraftScotland?
The C Word.

22. As you have moved on throughout your career, do you feel you have before more or
less experimental?
Has your design process changed?

It is alot of questions to be enquiring about in our alotted one hour time frame. Perhaps we need to cut it down to just key questions, or maybe we will get throught them all?  I am looking forward to our interview but I am also nervous. I am hoping to gain alot from this experience. I feel it will be very insightful... I also hope that James Donald finds the experience to be enjoyable. We are all very grateful that he was able to slot us into his very busy schedule, it is very much appreciated.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Stop and think...

I was thinking today that anything can be possible, if you have the belief and self determination, no- one knows what the futures holds for you, thats what makes it so exciting.

Building Blocks...

I have started to read a book called "Business Model Generation" and it is written By Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. Even the quote on the front cover is intruiging to me and makes me want to read more " You're holding a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow's enterprise." However, you know what they say, never judge a book by its cover...
So far I have learned that there are 9 Building Blocks to a business plan and these are as follows:
  • Customer Segments- "an organisation which serves one or several customer segments"
  • Value Propositions-"It seeks to solve customer problems and satisfy customer needs with value propostion."
  • Channels- "Value Propositions are delivered to customers through communication, distribution and sales channels."
  • Customer Relationships- "Customer relationships are established and maintained with each customer segment."
  • Revenue Streams- "Revenue Streams result from value propositions successfully offered to customers."
  • Key Resources- "Key Resources are the assets required to offer and deliver the previously described element..."
  • Key Activities- "... by Performing a number of Key activities."
  • Key Partnership- " Some activities are outsourced and some resources are aquired outside enterprise.
  • Cost Structure- "The business model results in cost structure."
The more I read on, the more these key elements will make sense to me. I am really excited about trying to find out more about how to run and make up a business. However the key success to any business is your customers, because without no customers, there can be no successful business.

Inspirational Quote...

I found this quote today which at the moment I feel would be good to live my design career by:

"The power of imagination makes us infinite."

John Muir

This quote makes me feel that anything is possible in the creative world of design, but you will need the determination in order for it to work. 

Concrete Wardrobe

 This a shop based in Edinburgh with really interesting pieces in it, which is co-owned by James Donald and Fiona McIntosh . Pop in if you are passing by. Check out the facebook link which is below to see designs, I hope it will knock your socks off:

Weave, Weave, Weave....

Doing research into James Donald, a weaver. I feel that it is important to also look at others in a simliar discipline and see what they are doing. So I did my homework so to speak and looked up other weavers and their work. I found quiet a list. I am going to leave some of their names and links to information to them, so  you can look at if you wish:
Margo Selby Ptomlemy Mann
Charlotte Grierson
Ismini saminidou
Laura Thomas
Chinami Ricketts

I feel looking at others work to be a great inspiration, as it can help you with your own work and help to develop you as a designer, regardless of what your discipline is.