Tag Archives: studio

Who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

It’s a good question – who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

I intended to write this a year ago, when our gallery-workshop was just a few months old.
Back then we felt full of optimism but still heard nagging inner voices telling us we were a bit daft for even thinking of setting up what was effectively a shop, just when so many others were going to the wall.

On top of that, it was necessary for Jenny to leave the stability (and predictable income!) of a regular job. What were we thinking?

One year on from that part-written blog post and nearly a year and a half since we got our slightly sweaty hands on the keys to unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard the optimism is still there, the inner voices have been quelled and our early marketing efforts have paid off.VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-Courtyard

We’re delighted to have regular customers who seem to come in just after we’ve put new stock on display.
Our classes are steadily drawing new would-be and established artists and crafters keen to develop their skills or gain new ones.
Our studio is being used to create interesting (sometimes amazing) projects by students.
And we’re finding that folks who used to visit the Courtyard have started returning, having discovered that there’s more to see, do, eat and drink than there used to be.

So of course we’re optimistic – we’re working hard to make our business a success and seeing that pay off.

Some of the things that have really worked for us include:

Having a mix of income – we sell our own stained and fused glass, we sell other artists’ work for a commission, we run a host of our own classes in fusing, stained glass, glass appliqué and more.

We also have a talented band of artists who teach their own art forms to students for us, and we make our space and facilities available for a small fee to those who want to create but lack the tools or a suitable place to work at home.

We’ve built up a really good mailing list over the years. Our regular emails get open rates and click-through rates (which is actually much more important than opens) that are significantly higher than is common in our line of business.

A testament to this is that we’ve just taught a couple of ladies who joined our mailing list after attending our third ever class about 10 years ago; they’ve been receiving our monthly emails ever since and got in touch to ask for a private class at our studio this year.

We keep up our advertising in local magazines. When we get visitors telling us they saw us in a local magazine we know our adverts are being seen. Of course this doesn’t translate in to ROI, but we’re still ‘young’ and working to build our footfall.

We’ve also taken a leading role in encouraging our neighbouring businesses to join us in co-op advertising and that’s making a noticeable difference to the footfall across the site. It’s tempting to ease off on the advertising now we’re in our second year –it costs money after all – but we plan to keep the momentum up.

Running demo days and taster days to show visitors what we’ve got going on. These have been a huge success for us, and are a blast to run too. We invite our artists to join us for our demo days, and show off their skills.
Visitors get to see artists in action and are often inspired to join a class and have a go themselves.

The outcomes of our taster days are similar – we give customers the chance to try one of our glass crafts in a short session for just a fiver. Many then book a place on a full class knowing that they’ll enjoy it, thus reducing the risk!

Listening to customers and hunting out work we think they will like. We’ve tried hard to find work that synchronises with what our customers tell us they like, or actively looking for. We’ve also had to learn that what we like may not appeal to our customers. We remind ourselves every now and again that we are not our own customers!

Of course there’s a lot more we do that’s helping bring in customers – giving talks at WIs for example.
It’s all part of doing what we can to build our gallery, grow our reputation and help our lovely customers own or give art as a present, or even make their own art.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen art you like, have tried a class and enjoyed it, or if you’re an artist yourself.

If you’d like to visit and find out about art and craft classes or check out the art we’ve got on display you’ll find us here:

Vitreus Art, Unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard,
Off the A5, near Potterspury, Northants NN12 7QX
Tel 01327 810320

Join our email newsletter group here…

VitreusArt-mapWakefield-Country-Courtyard

 

Would you like to learn how to make stained glass on holiday in Cornwall?

Boats in the harbour at Porthleven, venue for our stained glass holiday workshop

Porthleven - venue for the Vitreus Art 5-day stained glass workshop - October 2011

Learn to make stained glass in an inspiring setting in Cornwall

Well, painting holidays are all the rage – enjoy a holiday and improve your painting – so Jenny and I (Vitreus Art) decided late last year to set up a 5-day stained glass workshop in Cornwall.

We’ve been consistently delighted by how many people sign up for our one-day classes.
And we’ve always been surprised by the variety of folks that come along – young and old, male and female, artistic or just plain interested, well off folks for whom the £120 we charge is nothing, and people who have saved up – there’s no pattern, and we welcome you all!

But who will come on our 5-day workshop?
Well, we know they have the money – and time – to spend on something that is, frankly, an indulgence.
We hope it will be a holiday too – although in October the weather in Porthleven, very near the furthest southerly point on mainland UK, won’t be summery!

But what is a holiday? I’ve always thought of a holiday as a time to unwind from the strains of modern living, maybe leave the car alone for a few days, and the chance to switch my mind off from the routine. Oh, and I like to discover new things. What about you?

A venue by the sea in Porthleven Harbour

We can certainly promise you that you’ll discover new things if you’re able to join us in October in Cornwall. We pride ourselves in creating a fun, inspiring, and creative environment on our one-day classes, and down in the Lifeboat House art studio that will be our venue, the group will be able to savour the salty air and ever-changing colours and light of the ocean – for the studio is right on the edge of the rocks in Porthleven Harbour.

We’ve experienced the quality of the light one gets in West Cornwall to0 – the light that inspired Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, and so many others. Indeed, the Tate St Ives and Newlyn art galleries are both about 20-30 minutes from our venue and we’ve allowed time to explore in the itinerary. After all – it’s a holiday!

Time to unwind – it’s not all about stained glass!

We’ve chosen Porthleven as our venue for some very good reasons!

  • It has a good range of smart accomodation – a far cry from much of tourist Britain!
  • It has some lovely restaurants – for all budgets and levels of formality.
  • We know the area very well and can advise on things to do and places to go in the downtime.
  • It’s a great place, with a sense of art and real life at every turn.
  • It has the Ship Inn – my (Mike’s) favourite pub in the country!
  • Oh – and it has the perfect venue in the Lifeboat House Art studio – converted from a lifeboat house (you guessed!).

So if you want to learn to make stained glass (or improve skills you already have), have a break away from regular life, get some refreshing sea air in your lungs, enjoy fine food and nice pubs in a fascinating setting, we’d love to hear from you!

Full details, including what we do on the workshop, where to stay, what there is to see and do nearby, plus info about the venue itself is all on the Vitreus Art website – link here.

Do leave a comment or get in touch if you know this part of Cornwall – it’s special to us and we hope it will be to you too!

Mike