Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Finds - Niki Cotton - Artist




Good morning everyone, today's Friday Finds is artist Nicola Cotton aka wonderful mother and virtual friend Niki Cotton and all round beautiful person who I think I first met on Twitter a few years ago. She lives on the stunning North coast of Wales which is the major influence on her work.


© Niki Cotton


When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how Niki Cotton Art came to be!

Hmmmmm my business …. not sure I would call it that at the moment but I have very fabulous long term ideas! I studied Fine Art at degree and then came out of college working any job to earn money to help the other half set up our other business, a Design Agency - viewcreative.co.uk. Then the kids arrived and it was about me having to make work that could fit around them. I suppose that was when I got more into doing the craft side of my work rather than my art. I dabbled with that whilst working at View. But the burn of making Art stayed with me. Making pieces for myself, family and friends kept my eye in, and the mark making and thought process, exercised.


 © Niki Cotton


Then I came across a course locally for freemachine embroidery. This was something that I had really wanted to try out and had been struggling with. It was a real gem of a workshop that I ended up doing for 3 years! The tutor was a mine of information and had the most amazing zest for the subject. I think the thing that appealed to me most was that she was so up for finding ways to make the big processes manageable at home. The work on the sewing machine enabled me to add areas to my work that I love messing about with and when we immersed ourselves into printmaking, well, I was in seventh heaven. A medium that I have always adored working in, finding ways that I could transport the printing studio with its massive equipment to my tiny studio at home opened up so many new doors in my creativity I have been buzzing ever since! Then when I found the Gelli Plate, instantly ready and you can make the best images going on it, all with acrylic paint and water based screen printing inks, delicious. 


© Niki Cotton


In trying to find some order in my life and much soul searching at the beginning of this year after some pretty traumatic events in my life in preceding years - (my incredible Mum had had breast cancer for the second time, my parents business was sliding down the tubes and my darling Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and then died) - I pared everything I did down to printmaking, painting and stitch work. 

I cleared my studio and I have launched Niki Cotton Art this year. Whoop! 


Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I think it has helped having a presence on social media weirdly. Its a funny old place. There are people I have ‘known’ for 6 years from Twitter but have never met…how is this possible?! We have laughed (and I know you have too Gabs) at our Virtual Studio that has spread to Facebook and Instagram, places where you can take your studio about with you, when working from home might otherwise send you down a blind alley. But all that conversation is bearing fruit. I have had an exhibition opportunity that opened last week in Castle Donington at the fabulous Buzz Gallery. Being curated and run by the gorgeous Mel Anderson from @melandersondesigns, one of the first people I ‘met’ on Twitter. Crazy. I have had orders and commissions too and people are sharing and helping me keep proactive. I’ve had people push competitions in Galleries my way that I would not necessarily have seen that are also bearing fruit. I was a finalist in the Royal Cambrian Academy’s Digital Open that opened at the end of June for the month too, its the Welsh arm of the Royal Academy which is a pretty groovy thing to have had the opportunity to be a part of. There have also been some little shops that sell artwork that have approached me to put work in their spaces so on the whole considering its only been gaining momentum for the last 6 months I feel its going along the path I am wanting to be on. It is also enabling me to learn as I go and juggle the kids and home life without being thrown utterly in the deep end and finding myself sinking without a trace! I have also, which is quite exciting, been offered a space in which to put a pop up exhibition for the autumn so instead of waffling here I should be in my studio throwing the paint about…that homework feeling still exists, even when you are a grown up doesn’t it….

(Oh yes Niki - heartfelt YES)

© Niki Cotton


Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I am wanting to make it a full time thing. The miniest monster goes to school part time in September so I am wanting to build things from there really.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

I would eventually like to have a massive space with lots of studio space in it that people can work in and throw ideas about in and have creative support with a gallery exhibition space and also a little cafe that does open mike sessions and poetry reading evenings and things. A real community space that offers all sorts of creative knowledge to people. I would also love a space to do workshops in for the different artists working in the building but also visiting artists. It would be such a buzzy exciting space….plans plans plans!


© Niki Cotton


Where do you sell your work? 

At the moment I am selling my work through my blog and online shop - www.nikicottonart.com and The Buzz Gallery Castle Donnington and several pieces in  other galleries for short exhibitions.

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

I can’t really answer this with such little experience but I think gallery spaces are probably the best. I think people can see the work much better than in a photograph and I feel that there is a certain understanding of what it costs to get a piece of work that far. Although from the artists point of view having to loose the cut from the gallery can sometimes sting rather a lot but it is a way of being seen and getting out there to an audience that might not see you online otherwise. It is a pretty noisy place the web really!


© Niki Cotton


Who do you think your typical customer is?

I have no idea who my typical customer would be - I suppose people who are wanting something on their walls ;) my work is all based on the sea and the surrounding area to me. If someone is looking for something that is beachy in feeling with abstract overtones then I’m the person to stop at!

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy the making. Don’t we all though?! That space of nothingness to begin with that then grows with each mark and layer. Its so exciting and extremely frustrating to take a total blank and create. To flow with energy and get it all down on that space in front of you. To purge the emotion, ideas and knowledge that is whirling around inside. To make it ‘be’.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I am definitely more instinctive in the way I make my work. I write lists for the rest of my life that I often add "MAKE WORK" onto, otherwise I can potter off in all directions if I don’t give myself set days in the studio. It helps to focus me and even if things move from list to list I can at least start somewhere and see where it goes but I think like all creatives I’m a bit of a butterfly, I like to flit from one thing to another to keep my interest piqued. I look in wonder at people who are driven and organised and not scatty at all and I am in awe at their utter control.


© Niki Cotton


Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

I’m not at that stage yet but I would love an agent, someone who would do that door knocking selling thing for me. I hate that bit and would rather stay in the back ground. I would also like someone to boss me about a bit, keep me focused, tell me that today I have to upload those pictures and not faff, take those pictures and make them amazing, a snap shot won’t wash if your trying to sell something… and mostly try to keep me tidy and when I am packing things to slow down and not rush as rushing means marks that mean you have to start from scratch and it all takes twice as long… 


© Niki Cotton


Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I work from home surrounded by all the detritus of family life with animals thrown in for good measure. I have a little studio that I pinched that I can make a mess in and is reasonably safe from mischief makers! It has suited me to be here as I have wanted the opportunity to be at home as the kids were small. I think it has been a great opportunity to have a space to be myself in and to grow from. I think in time I will find a space that isn’t at home. A space where I can really throw the paint about without worrying that I am going to trample it straight through the house. But it will come in time. It is good to have goals and something to work towards however hairy and fuzzy they might be. Its something to keep you going isn’t it.


© Niki Cotton


Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

My husband is someone I turn to for advice, when I can pin him down to a conversation, he is someone who has worked in the arts for years and who is a great person to discuss decision making with, ideas and general ways forward. I also have the Virtual Studio on those there social media sites who are the most amazing group of women (mostly) - all out there doing it for themselves, they really are amazing. 

© Niki Cotton

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

My typical day is running the household and squeezing my work in in the time in between. My dream would be to have the time for both fully but that is a pipe dream and I am only one person. I know that I will have to take things a step at a time and learn as I go along. This surely is the best way. I read a quote on Pinterest - allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent. I think this is so true and we should all remember it. We are too quick to berate ourselves at not being marvellously brilliant at everything. We choose not to see the people flapping about in the shallows like us trying to find our sea legs. We choose instead to look at those people out there doing it and being amazing at it.

Find Niki here too:

On Facebook

On Twitter

Thank you so much Niki - you speak from the heart and I wish you huge success in forging your art career. I'll be cheering you on :)


2 comments:

  1. Thanks lovely girl! It reads really well and the pictures look ace. I'm so glad you were able to make sense of my gibberings :D xxx

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