Craft Platforms: Case studies Individual Maker- Bridget BaileyJune 22, 2020 2020-11-15 9:05
Craft Platforms: Case studies Individual Maker- Bridget Bailey
Bridget Bailey - a textile artist
- Uses social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to promote her craft activities
- Shares aspects of her life as a maker with Instagram followers to draw their attention
- iPad plays an important role in her craft such as recording inspirations
- The internet is very helpful to attract students from abroad to attend her craft courses
Figure 1: Bridget Bailey in her studio(left) and one piece of her work (right) (photo credit to Bridget)
Bridget Bailey is a conceptual milliner and textile artist, specialising in millinery, jewellery and artworks. Bridget has designed collections for labels such as Mulberry, Saks Fifth Avenue and the V&A and shown at recent high-profile exhibitions, including Mad for Tea at Fortnum and Mason, and ‘Crafted’ Makers of the Exceptional at the Royal Academy. She teaches masterclasses in millinery and textile techniques both at the studio in London and at selected venues abroad. She uses iPad, the Internet, and social media in her daily craft activities.
DIGITAL ‘TOUCH POINTS’
Use of Digital Equipment
Bridget Bailey has an iPad, a mobile phone and a radio in her studio. She had her first iPad in 2014 and bought a second one that could use a sim card to connect with the Internet. During exhibitions, Bridget will use the iPad to arrange payment from customers (an application: sumup, which can use credit cards for payment). She tried to use her phone, but the larger size of the iPad reduces spelling mistakes made when using her phone. She also uses her iPad to write proposals and take pictures. She sends the documents through email to her iPad so that she can edit the contents on the bus. “I love my iPad, it is great, it is big and cheerful. And I like it as it a bit like my desk,” said Bridget.
She has a computer at home which she deals with computer-related activities in the evening.
Figure 2: iPad linked with an application (sumup) which can insert credit card to make payments
Use of Social Media
Amongst Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, Bridget Bailey likes Instagram the most due to the photography in it. Both Facebook and Instagram are good for her teaching, because they enable people to see what she does and to get inspiration, and thus selling and promoting her work. In terms of Twitter, Bridget does re-tweet, which is suitable for sharing, however, she has no time to manage Twitter properly and feels that pictures on Twitter do not look as good as pictures on Instagram. Moreover, it takes time to think about what to say on Twitter compared to Instagram which does not rely on text messages.
She not only wants to share her making process on Instagram, but also the research and experiments she conducts for her making. Below are some of her posts on Instagram, and her reflection on those posts which illustrates how Instagram supports makers connecting with their audience:
i) A post about press
She posts “A magazine writes an article about her work”, and although it does not get so many “likes” it is an endorsement, and people see that. She mentioned that her followers increased because some famous magazines reposted her work.
ii) A Post about Exhibition
In the summer of 2019, she posted about a group exhibition with other makers in the Clockwork Studio in which maker made their craftwork and put it on a ‘mad’ dinner table. She thought, “It is a lovely collaboration with all makers in the Clockwork Studios. It is a group exhibition, and it was good to post something about the studio.” She made a red wine spear for the show, and someone bought it. She was very proud that people bought her work and said, “it is not about money, and it is a fulfilment.” In this way, sharing her recent activities is a good way to keep in touch with her followers.
iii) A post about an invited taught-course in Cotswold School of Arts and Crafts
This post is about when Bridget was invited to give a two-day masterclass in Cotswold School of Arts and Crafts. “I do not want every photo looks the same, so I just photograph someone colouring their sinamay (an ideal material for hat making) during the course,” said Bridget.
“The strategy of this post is I want to share that Cotswold employed me to teach there, and I would like to do a post about them.”, and it would be useful to add people’s names to the post to connect with them said Bridget.
iv) A post about advertising talks
She uses Instagram to advertise her talks, but she sometimes felt it was quite hard to actually get people to attend talks.
For example, she promoted a special talk with another hat-maker Edwina Ibbotson in which they each gave a 10 mins talk and shared their making process.
v) A post about an interview (a podcast with a professor)
Bridget Bailey in conversation with Roger Kneebone – An interface between medicine to craft people.
Bridget Bailey did a podcast with Professor Roger Kneebone who has undertaken some wonderful projects with other textile artists. She greatly admires Professor Roger Kneebone’s work comparing the skills of medicine with those of artists and craftsmen.
She felt very proud of the interview on podcast as she had an opportunity to share her ideas about making. However, despite her personal interest in the podcast and the prominence of Prof. Roger Kneebone, people did not seem interested in the post, and it did not get many “likes”, illustrating the difficulty of generating responses in Instagram and social media in general.
v) A post about an interview (a podcast with a professor)
She also posts about her daily life on Instagram. She really wants to try to be an all-round person on Instagram, not someone only showing their work and products for sale.
She knows if she only shows her work it will get lots of likes. However, she thought if a gallery would like to offer her an exhibition, they might like to know what kind of person she is. She wants to be a real person, but not expose herself too much.
She needs to think twice and make a balance about what she does on Instagram.
vii) A post about support from her friends (a making story)
She also shares the stories behind the work with followers on the Instagram. For example, her friend rescued a dead parakeet (parrot) from a dustbin so she could have the feathers. She loves collecting and finding things but when someone else makes such an effort for her that is the most special.
She said that she might start her making story based on the feathers, but she doesn’t what to tell people about her secret as she needs to keep some mystery.
Use of Website Presence
Bridget has a website, but she thinks her Instagram is more alive than her website as she does not change her website so frequently. Currently, she uses Instagram for teaching and buying rather than her website. She would like to start blog, which she thinks can help her to tell a story about something. However, it takes time to fill the contents which is a barrier to starting it.
Figure 3: The screenshot of Bridget Bailey’s website
Use of Digital Software
Bridget Bailey is concerned that images do not say all the things she would like to say, so she uses an application, i-Movie to make tiny films on her iPad. She learned the software by herself. She said, “it is really hard for me; I take tutorial courses on YouTube. Sometimes it makes me cry as it is so hard, and I got mad and wished someone could teach me. But it is very difficult to take a course because I want to know what exactly I want to know.” She gave an example of using google to search for answers, which has lots of questions and not sure which one is better. She said, “although I was not great, I managed to learn it without anyone helping me, so proud.” She has a positive attitude toward learning. She made two short films by herself and felt happy about the results. She also realised that people might be too impatient to watch videos, but she thought it still could catch a few people’s interest.
Overall, Bridget has applied digital platforms in her craft activities. She uses the iPad to take photos when she seeks inspirations from nature. Social media such as Instagram and Facebook help her promote and sell her craftwork. She also uses digital software, iMovie to make videos to better present her work.
Figure 4: The digital platforms involved in Bridget’s craft activity
MORE DESCRIPTIONS ABOUT BRIDGET BAILEY
Figure 5: Bridget’s presentative work in different stages
Bridget has been a maker about 35 years. She started her career in textiles, doing specialised fabric. Gradually, she was invited to make hats for the fashion industry. About 20 years ago she was more of a commercial hat maker and had a factory, a business partner, and hired full-time staff, making 2,000 hats a year. She called herself an “overgrown” craft person in the manufacturing world rather a natural business person. In 2005, Bridget decided to rethink her craft career and focus on making her work unique and suitable for galleries and not wholesaling any more. It took years for her to explore craft making perfectly. In the last five years she started to deliver specialised teaching to other milliners, special making, a completely different model which only she herself does the business.
She knows that her market is a niche market. She is not panicked about money, and knows that she can earn more, but she does not want to. She said, “I feel like I really want to my life, making really special amazing work, that takes a lot of time standing and staring, you almost put a lot of time in a bin, like I make this but I do not like this, I hate it, so I do not use it and throw it away. That goes on so much with me.” She makes a balance between teaching and making as she would like to have more time to make things.
“I am very lucky because people would like to come and learn. I do not sell my work. It is I really to choose my work, not the same and involve my marketplace to that. I can sell a lot of them (her work) and do a lot more shows. But If I did that, I won’t be able to do the big project that I want to do, although it is quite hard to decide what you really want”. “I suppose if you think of my other life, nearly 20 years [ago], employing people and making the work the same, I was really proud, I sold everywhere, all sorts of departments and store, I really proud but my work was very commercial and not so special. Because I have already done that, so I would like to have my work this way”.
Bridget Bailey is familiar with social media especially Instagram and she has over 4,000 Instagram followers. She has different strategies regarding posting on Instagram, where she shares her craftwork, her making the process, and even her daily life such as a picture of her breakfast with her followers. It helps her to promote her work and attract more students. She uses the iPad to take photos quite often. So far, no digital technology has been directly involved in her making production, but she would like to try laser cutting when required. She calls herself a maker and an educator.
She has a huge passion for making and gets her inspiration from nature.
Please visit the following site to know more about Bridget Bailey:
Craftplatforms.org has been produced by the project research team at Queen Mary University of London, UK, and Hunan University, China.
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Queen Mary University of London
London E1 4NS
Prof. Hao Tan
School of Design, Hunan University
Yuelu Mountain, Changsha