In my experience: Grace Smith
1 August 2012 by TexSelect in Alumni Stories
Grace Ink: Quirky Doll Family
Grace Smith (Texprint 2007) runs her own business, GraceInk Design in the Scottish Borders. A screen printing fanatic, she creates her own quirky textile and paper products, selling them online through her Etsy.com shop, as well as in small independent stores and at craft fairs. In addition, she helps to run screen-printing workshops and is chairperson of the Crossing Borders arts collective. Grace talks to Texprint about her hectic but fulfilling lifestyle as a designer-maker.
Running my own business is great – but I never switch off.
It’s amazing to do a job that is just part of life, that makes you smile and that you enjoy getting up for in the morning. But it isn’t without downsides. I seem to be working 365 days a year, even on holiday – it is like my baby. I have also started running screen printing workshops which are proving really popular.
Downsides include the dreaded Tax Return.
I try to keep on top of it all and not let administrative stuff build up. Hopefully one day, I’ll earn enough to employ other talented people to do it for me.
Grace Ink: 4 Dolls Paper Print
I’m chairperson of the Crossing Borders collective.
The organisation runs an Art Trail every September, which I’m involved with. Many artists and craftspeople in the Borders area open their studios to the public.
I’m inspired by my beautiful surroundings, travel and different cultures around the world.
Setting up my own business has been very time consuming, and financially difficult, so a lot of my travel is now a lot closer to home, but this still provides inspiration. Living in the Scottish Borders, around lovely, rolling green hills is very calming for the mind, and provides clarity when working on new ideas. It is very important for me to be in a creative environment and working alongside 13 other artists in a studio really helps me to get inspired.
I’m in love with the screen printing process.
Screen printing is very versatile, allowing very intricate hand drawn designs to be transferred to fabric and paper – most of the time without having to use a computer. Achieving brush strokes and pen lines on fabric really gives a special handmade quality, which can be lost with many modern processes. I love the first reveal of a new screen print – there is a real buzz of excitement.I’m also very fond of linen and linen mix fabrics, which I use a lot in my work. My birdcage design is a firm favourite – I created it at university, but it hasn’t lost any of its appeal in the five years since then. It’s ended up on pretty much every product I produce.
Grace Ink: Birdcage Print Bag detail
I’m passionate about my work and teaching.
I love to teach – it’s a great feeling when my students have learnt something and had an enjoyable time too. Meeting new people and talking about what I do for a living, is great – I can get quite over-excited at times!
Texprint was invaluable at the start of my career.
I remember receiving the phone call to say I’d been selected. It was a surreal moment where I believe I asked ‘are you sure?’ It made me realise that I had created a collection that was appreciated, and that all the hard work that I’d put into my time at university was finally paying off. I was given the fantastic opportunity to take up a work placement in New Delhi, India. This provided me with lots of new inspiration, and I doubt I would be on the path I am currently without this.
Grace Ink: printed cushions
I’m planning expansion for my business – and maybe a road trip around Scotland.
I’m currently looking into licensing certain designs and also expanding the scope of retail outlets that I work with. I’d love to do some more travelling at some point and possibly work alongside artisans in Australia or my ultimate goal – Japan. I also want to produce some work inspired by Scotland and do a road trip at some point. I have a map that my Gran produced when she was about my age, of a road trip she did around Scotland. I would love to recreate that.
My advice to new graduates is: get some experience, apply for everything and never say no.
(Well for the first few months anyway.) Then you can be pickier with what you agree to… When I first started out, I’d done a couple of years of exploring, trying different things, seeing what I wanted to do with my life. Just after graduation is the best time to do this. When I set up in business I just assumed that I would be successful but the last three years has taught me that this is definitely not an easy task. I’ve felt like giving up on countless occasions, but I’m lucky to have family and friends who pick me up when things don’t go the way I intend. Most of the time I love it – my days are busy, varied and interesting.