When I started working with my dad, Ian, at Craft Insurance, I really didn’t know what to expect from our customers. Dad had said in a nonchalant manner, ‘you should chat to the customers about what they do, it can be quite interesting’. He wasn’t wrong!! But when we crossed paths with a new customer, who created abstract art work from potato printing, well, that was surprising. As kids, we used to do potato prints…they didn’t really look like this though, and when I say didn’t really, what I really mean to say is, this work is incredible!!
We don’t insure this artist because of the potential damage she might do to a third party with a potato – we insure her because public liability insurance means she can go all over the country exhibiting her work, which is what we’re all about here.
Have a read about Julia Burns at Red Hen Originals Ltd.
My name is Julia Burns, I am a professional abstract artist and in 2008, with the support of my husband Simon Kershaw, I set up a little business called Red Hen Originals, based on the age-old method of potato printing.
In 2008, Simon was made redundant as a result of the burgeoning financial crisis. Because of the nature of the Fine Art Market, my contribution to the family coffers could only ever be sporadic and it became necessary for me to find a way in which to utilise my talents to greater financial effect by helping to provide a more regular income. In 1985, having left The Slade and London, I moved to North Yorkshire and made some potato print Christmas cards of a red hen in the snow for family and friends, to denote my new rural environment. They proved extremely popular. So when I was asked by a friend to do a postcard-sized painting to be auctioned by Sotherbys in aid of the 2004 Asian Tsunami Appeal, I did one of my red hen potato prints and it sold for over £700! The potato print images were quirky and simple to produce. I could think of all sorts of different images -birds, animals, flowers,trees, the list was endless. But best of all, because of the method of reproduction, no two paintings were ever exactly the same. They really were all “originals” and people loved that concept. Thus, in 2008, when everything was looking bleak, out of sheer necessity, Red Hen Originals was born.
Getting started with the business was easy because I already had all of the equipment I needed. The only things I had to invest in were the potatoes! However, within a relatively short time, it became apparent that I would need a website to help spread the word Once Red Hen Originals was on line, I then had to ensure that all copyright procedures were in place and that Red Hen Originals became a registered trademark . Non of this was cheap, but essential to protect the brand. Money earned through sales was reinvested back in to the business. Initially, I sold the images through friends, word-of-mouth and local fairs. By 2009 I was taking” Red Hen Originals” to national fairs which take place all year round and at different venues throughout Great Britain. As soon as you enter these realms, then product and public liability become essential. This is where Ian W. Wallace came in thanks to the recommendation of a friend and made the whole process of insurance cover so easy. Red Hen Originals is now in its seventh year.
The business continues to evolve and ideas develop all of the time. In my head, Red Hen Originals is already five years down the line and is no longer purely about potato printing. I intend to create a brand which is not just about putting images on tea towels and tins. Red Hen Originals will have a very strong and unique, visual identity which will make it instantly recognisable on the high street as a unique and quality-driven, British brand. So, do I have a favourite product and one that sums up what the business is about ? Well yes, I do. As it stands, the business is all about the imagery and my favourite would have to be the eponymous red hen. But in terms of products which “sum up what the business is about…” You will have to wait and see..We are about to launch our new fabric range,- Tea Towels and Napkins. Seven years in the making…Watch this space!!
I do sell my work at craft fairs but my biggest supporter has been Country Living Magazine.Being associated and endorsed by Country Living Magazine has opened many doors that would otherwise have remained firmly shut. It provides a national and international spring- board, such is its popularity around the globe. Red Hen Originals fitted the magazine’s ethos perfectly.
To anyone starting out my advice would be, if you really think you have something different, something unique and you believe in what you are doing, then go for it -because the path will never be straight-forward and your absolute faith in your product/ brand/ whatever is what will get you through.
You can find us on our website; www.redhenoriginals.com and facebook.com/RedHenOriginals
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