Sarah Spalding is a Dundee native and graduated in Jewellery Design from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2010. Her work is stocked by a number of retailers, including The Tayberry Gallery in Perth, her own business. Creative Dundee met with her over a hot chocolate in the DCA to find out a little more about the gallery and her own jewellery work.
Can you tell us a bit about the Tayberry Gallery?
The gallery stocks contemporary art and design made by mainly Scottish based makers and artists. I do have a few English makers stocked, but two of them did train at Duncan of Jordanstone. I try and keep it local because I think that’s what people like. I would like to attract more young people to the gallery as a lot of my customers are mostly women who are a bit older and have the money to spend, but there is definitely many items in the gallery that young people can afford too.
What work do you currently stock?
I try to keep a wide variety of pieces and price ranges. I have cards for as little as a few pounds to pieces of furniture that are a lot more expensive. There are lots of things that are perfect for presents for birthdays and weddings. Or treat yourselves of course!
There other really nice galleries in Perth but I feel that none of us compete directly. If my customers they can’t find what they’re looking I’ll suggest that they check out other local galleries such as Frames, or Boo Vake.
Do you have any Personal Favourite pieces in the shop?
Yeah, I’m stocking an illustrator from Edinburgh called Anna Wright. She has a really nice drawing style, it’s quite detailed and in black ink. She does every kind of animal you could imagine. She uses feathers and textiles on top of the drawing and then digitally scans them and releases limited edition prints. People are always asking, “Are they real feathers?”, because the feathers and the fabric look so real in print. They sell really well. There is this one that has three female birds with big feathers coming out of their heads lined up on a tree and there is a little male bird next to them. She calls this one “speed dating”. She does greetings cards as well, so if someone can’t afford a print, they can still buy a card, they are nice enough to be framed.
Whats the best thing about owning your own gallery?
Being able to make all the decisions myself is one of the best bits. At times that can be difficult, but most of the time it’s pretty good. You don’t have anyone to answer to. It’s nice having studio space there. It means that when the gallery is quiet I can still be working on making my jewellery.
How do you find interesting people to stock?
The internet is good that. Having a good website is key. You’re searching through so many that if something is hard to use or unclear, it’s too easy to just skip it and go to the next one.
Can you tell us a bit more about your jewellery designs? What do you find inspiration in? How do you work?
My poor jewellery, feels a bit neglected some of the time. I just got a few new stockists, one in Inverness, one in Norfolk and another in Glasgow. I like geometric patterns, anything with a grid on it, I’ll be right there, for some reason. I generally take one element and repeat it lots. I mostly find shapes and patterns I like by walking about cities. Even things like a drain cover, for example, can give me ideas.
I enjoy doing commissions because you end up doing things that you would never usually have done. But it is nice to just design for myself sometimes. I’ve recently had some of my jewellery elements cast in silver by a casting company. This means I can start constructing the pieces straight away without making each one individually, which reduces making time, and saves my sanity!
What has been your career highlight so far?
Owning the gallery, definitely. For two years I was doing my jewellery and cleaning at the hospital and a cinema. I started to wonder, “Where am I going?” The gallery all happened quite suddenly. Before I knew it I was standing in my wee gallery on my first day of work. I hadn’t even worked in a shop before in my life. It’s funny thinking back that I’ve learnt so much and I’m still learning.
What would be your words of wisdom for anyone looking to set up their own gallery?
Go for it, don’t be scared but be very aware that things are really though at the moment. Research your market and location and don’t put things off. Some things that you think might take two weeks will end up taking a month. Get on it early. It’s all hard work and you’re not going to make much money for loads of hours, but working for yourself feels amazing.
With the Degree Show approaching do you have any advice for New graduates?
How important networking, internet presence and keeping up with local events and creative peers is. The more people that know about your business, then the more people they will tell and so on. I have recently been getting used to using Facebook and Twitter more regularly for the business, it’s a great free promotional tool to use and a nice way to keep in contact with your customers. I know the jewellery students at DOJ have to keep a blog as part of their course, I think that is a great starting point.
What do you like about being based in Dundee?
We get loads of sunshine here. It hardly ever rains in Dundee. I read somewhere that people who are from Dundee or come into Dundee are unlikely to leave. I don’t know if it’s something to do with its size. Dundee is a nice size and I love that you can walk from one end of town to the other. The choice of shops can be pretty low but over the past few years there has been more independent shops opening. I think there’s a good opportunity to build some really amazing architecture down at the new waterfront development. I was in Den Haag in Holland a couple of years ago and their modern architecture was really interesting, hopefully Dundee will build some equally as nice. If that space is given to small independent stores rather than big chains in boring buildings it could be really exciting. We’ll have to wait and see.