We’ve been partners with Folksy for a few years now, offering sellers an exclusive discount when they sign up for an account with us. To celebrate this partnership we are shining a spotlight on the wonderful makers who sell their creative wares on Folksy. This week, we interview Abi Simmons the creative brain behind Red Hand Gang.
Tell us about the work you create?
I design and make room décor for kids. I try and design simple, functional and playful pieces that will last and can be used again and again. My biggest seller is the wooden hanger which I designed originally to hang up some of my girl’s dresses. Alongside this I make mini shelves, hooks, clocks, design prints and make cushions. All the items are either hand painted or screen printed.
What materials do you work in?
Mainly sustainably sourced birch ply and acrylic paints for painting and screen printing.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Oh my, kind of all over the place. I am very drawn to vintage toy designers such as Fredun Shapur, the German company Keller made beautiful toys, and probably my favourite is Kay Bojesen – everything he designed was so perfectly simple and tactile. In contrast to that I love Japanese packaging design, and the bold colours of 1950s design, Paul Rands graphics are so striking. Also to make sure I am not entirely stuck in the past I love looking through The Jealous Curator website which is full of amazing artists.
Where do you make most of your work?
I get the hangers laser cut for me and then it is all made in my tiny workroom in my house in Oxford.
Tell us why you think Folksy is a great platform to sell your work on?
I love Folksy so much. It is a great community of UK makers quietly grafting away! The shop fronts are designed so that they are clear and clean of fuss. They show off the work really nicely. But also the team behind Folksy are amazing. Always super helpful, always working to push UK crafters in to the spot light.
What are you working on at the moment?
Nothing new at the moment, I am just concentrating on getting regular orders painted and out and also gearing up for Christmas. It is all about making stock at this time of year so come October, November and December I have at least some of the work already done.
Who are your favourite artists or makers?
This really hard. I could list so many artists and makers. There are so many clever people in the world. I absolutely love Yayoi Kusama and her Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away installation and Yoshitomo Nara. Illustrator Sarah Neale from Australia is a lovely illustrator @theinkdraw, Naoshi from LA does super cute illustration @naoshisunae and Chris Riddell @chris_riddell is a fav in our house. He illustrates loads of my kids’ favourite books and his sketches on his Instagram feed (my go to app!) is just mind blowingly good.
What exhibition or art event have you been to recently that you think is worth shouting about and why?
I can tell you about all the exhibitions I wish I had gone to! Unfortunately my gallery trips are few and far between. Having 2 kids and running Red Hand Gang = very little spare time. We are going to try and see The Jeff Koons at the Newport Street Gallery before it goes, I wish I had seen Yoshimoto Nara when his exhibition was in London. We did manage to go to the museum of Childhood a while ago – that place is lovely and I happened to have a tiny part in an exhibition that was on there. We take the girls to The Pitt Rivers, Natural History museum and the Ashmolean in Oxford a lot so we see a lot of beautiful things there. I also ogle beautiful art and photography on Instagram a lot – that counts right?
Do you have any tips for artists and makers who are starting out?
It can be a little overwhelming at first and difficult to know where to start. I think the best thing you can do as you are starting out is take great pictures of all the pieces you make. If you are planning to sell online, your photos are basically not only a picture of what you have created but also an impression of your business over all. Clean, light, and in focus are what you should aim for. Also lots of self-publicity on social media, art and craft fairs – using those lovely pictures you have just taken! And good communication with customers. Folksy’s blog has great online advice for every aspect of running a little creative business including how to take great pictures and editing them.
Where can people see your work?