This week as part of our series about Folksy sellers we interview Charlie Trimm, otherwise known as By Charlie’s Hand. We’ve been partnered with Folksy for a few years now, offering their sellers an exclusive discount every time they shop with us. If you are interested in becoming a Folksy seller, find out more here.
Tell us about the work you create?
I’m a papercutter so I cut very well placed holes in paper using a surgically sharp scalpel to create images and I’ve been cutting for around 6 years. It’s a very unforgiving medium, you can’t rub out a wrongly cut line, paint over it or stick it back together, so it takes a lot of patience and care to do it right and after nearly 6 years I still make the odd mistake. My work is very structured, I like symmetry and repetition, I use a lot of natural elements animals, birds and plants feature heavily and I love using colour. I hand drawn all my work in pencil first and then cut it by hand, hence the name ‘By Charlie’s Hand’.
What materials do you work in?
Paper! So much paper! I use a Swann-Morton scalpel and blades and I draw using Staedtler HB pencils. I also use wood from time to time as a mount for miniature cuts and I’ve have recently begun to experiment with watercolours and adding hand stitched elements to some pieces. I have also had my designs printed on textile products including cotton tote bags, cushion covers and tea towels alongside a range of stationary, calendars, colouring books and greeting cards.
My favourite papers are Daler-Rowney ‘Murano’ and ‘Canford’ papers and Canson ‘Mi-Teintes’ paper, the are around 140-160gsm in weight and are ideal for cutting as they are strong (I’m quite heavy handed), come in a wide range of colours and have a subtle texture which adds an extra dimension to my cuts. I also pick up papers from any art or craft shops I come across and have quite a collection of different colour papers to use in my work. I also use Pro-Markers to adjust paper colours so I can vary the shade or hue of a paper by layering on ink which helps with pieces like ‘Dandebow’ which has over 100 uniquely coloured hearts on it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from so many places, I am incredibly lucky to live on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and within minutes of driving or walking from my house I can be in the middle of nowhere surrounded by such spectacular views it’s hard not to be inspired by it. I often go on walks with my boyfriend around the local area and nature is a continuing theme in my work.
Patterns and repetition are also very prominent in my work so I look at everything from fabric to architecture for shapes and motifs to use in my own patterns.
Colour is another important element in my work, I was obsessed during university with the theory and manipulation of colour and this still informs much of what I do today. I mixed the Dulux paint range and colour matched it by eye to the swatch cards and my graduate show work was nine 1m square perspex sheets with paint dribbled down them to create a huge spectrum using a base palette of only 12 colours. This has continued through my creative process and colour now underpins a lot of my papercutting work, rainbows and spectrums still feature heavily in my cuts and many pieces are planned around using colour too.
Where do you make most of your work?
I have a studio in the smallest box bedroom of the house I share with my partner, it’s petite, usually a big mess but it’s where I do all my cutting. Sometimes when I am just drawing and trying to figure out a new design I will cwtch up on the sofa in the living room with a board on my lap and scribble away. You will find my studio easily enough by following the trail of bits of paper that are scattered around the house.
Tell us why you think Folksy is a great platform to sell your work on?
I personally chose Folksy over other selling platforms because it was British. The site is based in the UK and is for British artists and makers. I have nothing against other platforms but this was the big selling point for me as I was starting out I didn’t want to be confused by any overseas consumer rules and regulations and end up in any hot water because I had done something wrong. I loved that the ethos was and still is all about home grown, handmade in the UK loveliness. As all the artists and makers are UK based you aren’t competing with the rest of the world but you can still sell internationally, I’ve sold work to people who live 5 minutes down the road and the other side of the world. I think customers in the UK like that aspect too, that they don’t have to worry about ordering something and the shipping costs and timescale being huge and they are supporting a UK maker too. The Folksy Plus membership is also a great feature so you pay a one off fee and then list for free for a whole year so if you have lots of items, as I do, it really helps! The site is so easy to navigate, the listing process is simple and I can finish a piece or get a new product and list it and have sales within minutes.
The staff are incredibly supportive and any problems are dealt with quickly for both customer and seller. They’ve done so much to promote my work online and put me in touch with magazines and as a result I’ve been featured in lots of publications and blogs. I’ve also enjoyed watching the site grow and develop and am so pleased with lots of the improvements they have made over the years which have helped me as a seller. I feel that if I have a suggestion or if there is a discussion between sellers on the forums about a potential idea that would improve the site they take it on board and quite often that feature or tool is implemented. It’s great community vibe and you don’t feel lost on a huge site. They also have links with various retailers, much as yourselves offering discounts materials and promotional products to assist you in marketing. All in all I love Folksy!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on several things right now, alongside commissioned work I create my own originals. These are currently following a land, sea and air theme and are an extension of my most recent colouring book turning some of the drawings into papercuts which then in turn will become prints and also part of my 2017 calendar! So juggling lots of projects and pieces right now.
Who are your favourite artists or makers?
That’s a tough question I could go on for hours about the different artists and makers I love so I’ll pick three because they really inspire me and two are the reason I am an artist and am lucky enough to make art for a living.
I began papercutting because of Rob Ryan who is an amazing artist and papercutter I call him my ‘papercut hero’. After I graduated from university I couldn’t paint due to lack of space as I had done during my time as an undergrad and had admired Rob’s work for years so I picked up a scalpel and gave it a go. Fast forward a few years later and here I am still cutting holes in paper! I love his work, it’s whimsical, romantic and so distinctive I can spot a Rob Ryan a mile off and was lucky enough to see some of his original work at a local Art Centre last year. My house is filled with his products and work from screen prints, laser cuts, cushions, mugs and my aim one day is to own an original papercut of his!
The other really big influence on me would have to be Antony Gormley, I saw an exhibition of his work when I was 14 at Tate, St. Ives whilst on holiday with my family and it was just before I selected my GCSE options at school. I had always been interested in and enjoyed art but it was never something I had seriously considered an option as a career or job. Seeing Gormley’s work was a real eye opener, here was a whole gallery filled with all these really cool, quirky, slightly unnerving sculptures and this is what he did for a living! So it was from then on that I pursued art as the main path in my education and career, not knowing for sure I would succeed or be as lucky to make it my job one day but that exhibition made me realise it was a possibility.
I’m also a big fan of Tatty Devine jewellery, I love Rosie and Harriet’s work and how they’ve grown from quite humble beginnings to become a hugely influential brand who amaze and innovate with every single collection. They’ve also collaborated with Rob Ryan so as you can imagine that’s my idea of wearable heaven and I am very lucky to have several pieces from these collections due to a very generous boyfriend. I always get compliments when I wear any of my Tatty Devine and I love the personalised name necklaces I even have one that says ‘BCH’.
What exhibition or art event have you been to recently that you think is worth shouting about and why?
I haven’t gotten there just yet but I am planning a trip to see the Quentin Blake Exhibition at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff. I love his work and have been an avid Roald Dahl fan since I was small so I cannot wait to go and see original works and feel very nostalgic for my childhood!
I think reading is very important, I love getting lost in a good book and the combination of Blake and Dahl is just perfect and I know the illustrations really brought the stories to life for me and I cannot imagine any characters from the books without thinking of Blake’s illustrations, never mind how many blockbuster movies or shows are made based on them.
I think the exhibition, which is part of the celebrations for Dahl’s 100th birthday, will inspire a whole new generation of readers and also for some adults to perhaps dust off those old books to read themselves or to their children and perhaps even some future illustrators and artists! Blake’s drawing style is so loose and messy that it goes to show you can make your own distinct style and it can still be fresh, cool and relevant many years later.
Do you have any tips for artists and makers who are starting out?
Be original, take inspiration but don’t copy, try and create your own style. Please don’t compare yourself to someone who has been creating longer or is more established than you, they all started out in the same place and were probably a bit awful at what they are now quite brilliant at doing when they first started out. My first papercuts are quite embarrassing and laughable when they are compared to what I can do now but I had to start somewhere so practice makes perfect. Always remember to enjoy and love what you do as that will always show through because if you try to make or do something you don’t personally like as it will show so don’t shoehorn yourself into a style or ideas that aren’t ‘you’.
Take advantage of any and all opportunities that are put your way and promote, promote, promote. Social media is an amazing tool, so get yourself on everything from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and any other networks you can use to promote yourself and what you do! A great way to promote yourself is to make connections at local galleries, centres and museums, open art competitions are brilliant for getting a toe in the door of these types of places and and entering them is a good way of reaching an audience who might never see your work otherwise.
Also to be a total bore but a very important thing to do is also register with HMRC to declare your arty earnings and make sure you do everything legally and above board, better to go through the stress of a yearly tax return than the stress of being prosecuted for not doing it! Being honest the process is quite simple and the folk at HMRC are very helpful and kind if you have any queries, they aren’t the big, scary taxman out to get you these days!
Where can people see your work?
I exhibit as frequently as I can in galleries across the country but I would say most of my work and presence is online so Twitter, Folksy and Instagram are the best places to see pretty much everything I have ever made. I’m also proudly on display in people’s homes and businesses around the world so you never know where and when you’ll come across a By Charlie’s Hand original, print or product!