Bethan is a textile artist, specialising in large banners for special occassions. Drawing on her experience with embroidery, she uses a variety of fabrics and styles in her work.
Tell us about your pathway into banner-making, how did your career path look?
I have been embroidering for years, but decided to study it in 2017. My final project helped me find my niche because I had to create my own brief. I was recently engaged and wanted to cover an unsightly curtain at the wedding venue. Between full-time work, part-time study and wedding planning, basing my final project on weddings was killing two birds with one stone. I created a banner blending traditional American tattooing design with KISS lyrics. Before I had even finished my course I was invited to create a banner for a styled shoot, and had a steady stream of commissions for mini banners coming in. My project began as a dress and veil for a bridal boutique, and ended with me making hand embroidered patches for denim jackets (wedding themed!), and a giant 3.5 x 3m banner for a wedding venue.
Did you find there were many barriers to starting a business in banner-making?
Learning as you're going along can be very frustrating. The biggest hurdle I've hit so far is selecting a fabric I love, starting a project and it just not being suitable - having to make it work takes twice as long! The more banners I make, the more I learn about the suitability of fabrics. Also, juggling a demanding full time job with this side project is tough (it's more than a hobby, and not quite a business!).
As a professional procrastinator, I've had to divide my time into chunks, and try different working styles such as the Pomodoro Technique where I work for 25 minutes then treat myself to a 5 minute break!
Why do you think you enjoy creating the banners?
I have always dabbled in various crafts, so to have found something I feel I'm good at, and that people respond well to just makes me want to keep creating and developing. I can't convey how astonishing it feels for it to have finally 'clicked'. I feel confident in my designs, I have found my niche, and people seem to like what I'm creating. I finally feel like I have something to add to the art community that has inspired me for so long.
What advice would you offer to artists who are thinking of taking up textile work?
When I began my embroidery course, I almost dropped out 10,000 times over the 2.5 year duration. I gravitate toward illustrative work, but the course put so much focus on mark making and more abstract subjects. However, when it came to my final project where I was tasked with briefing myself - I realised how much I had truly learnt on the course. Even if you feel a subject doesn't interest you, or won't benefit you - it may surprise you how much you can really take away from it to apply to your own work. (P.S. write EVERYTHING down. I always forget what settings my machine was on when returning to a piece!)
Recommend some of your favourite craft accounts to follow...