Introduce us to you and your brand!
I am a collector of vintage images, mainly medical and the bizarre. The original illustrations are a real thing of beauty and are rarely accessed by the public.
Curious Freak reimagines the unusual and sometimes macabre in art. Products incorporate vintage medical illustrations, and the weird and wonderful. Some of the designs have a story to tell, such as the banned books range. The brand is also about introducing the beauty and skill of anatomical illustration to everyone, as the products I produce are generally a niche market saved for museum and gallery shops.
I am really interested in the connections between art and science in particular the human body and the mind. The name was born from my own curiosity in this, and that the term freak is still used if someone has an interest in something that is not considered the norm.
How has your brand/work developed since you began?
My brand is developing more and more each month. Lockdown gave me the chance to research products and develop ideas - the pandemic put all my other work on hold for at least a year. Curious Freak is still in its infancy, so I am still learning which products work best.
,I am really interested in the connections between art and science in particular the human body and the mind.
What do you consider to be your most popular product?
My keyrings and packs of postcards sell extremely well. I have a selection of products between 5 and 10 pounds, so there is something for every budget.
What piece are you the proudest of?
I am really proud of my little Jute Bag. I wanted to do a bag that was a different size to the usual tote bags that are available.
Do you have any new Christmas products you are launching this year?
I have several new products launching in the next few weeks. I have been researching books that have been censored over the years which will become a range in store. Initially I will be adding acrylic keyrings of the book covers , for example The Wizard of Oz and Trainspotting are 2 books that were banned or censored in the past. My daughter Elise is also working with me producing a range of crocheted items under the name “Curious Crotchet”
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist/designer?
Personally, I have to juggle a lot of balls in the air. I have a job 3 days a week working with the vaccination teams in the NHS alongside my work as a forensic artist. I am currently working on a year long project with Surgeons Hall Museums recreating images from ancient skulls. I try to allocate at least 1 full day a week solely concentrating on Curious Freak as well as the odd hour or two daily when required.
Do you have any past accomplishments you wish to share?
I was invited to be a speaker at XpoNorth 2020s annual conference to discuss working as a forensic artist. Although Covid meant that it was digitally delivered, I was delighted to have been invited as a delegate.
How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?
A few years ago I was running an Artist Space beside Ocean Terminal in Leith called DOK at the same time that SDX was based in the shopping centre. At that time we were generously given free space from Lynzi (CEO) to sell work to raise money for our artist projects which was a charitable organisation. Sadly, DOK Artist Space was forced to close a few years ago which gave me time to concentrate on my own practice and also allowed me the opportunity to rent space in the new George Street Store in Edinburgh for my own work, as I already knew it was a very supportive selling space for artists.
Selling work in galleries that take 40-50% on a sale is a hard pill to swallow but artists don’t really have a choice as it is a standard thing across the board. Organisations that support the artists like SDX is a real lifeline. Being given the opportunity to earn a living from my products enables me to continue gaining more insight into running a small business alongside continuing my work as a forensic artist.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?
The closing of shops for several weeks at a time has obviously impacted on sales meaning less money to invest in new products.
What do you hope to gain from working with SDX going forward?
It is great that someone is always on hand to advise on what sells and current trends in the market. I have no experience in retail so any advice is good advice and I know that I can always ask a member of the SDX staff if I have a query regarding products or anything else store related. For me this is still very much a learning curve.
If you could share just one piece of advice to aspiring artists/designers who want to make a living from their creative talents, what would you tell them?
It can take a while to develop a brand so don’t go overboard and spend a fortune on stock. If you can trial a few items initially until you notice a buying trend that is definitely the way to go. It will likely take a bit of time to make any decent financial return as you must speculate to accumulate as they say, but if this is your passion stay determined and keep at it. Most artists have other jobs !
And finally, help share some motivation with your favourite inspirational advise or quote!
Be confident in yourself and your products.
Thank you to Karen for participating in our Artists blog. You can find her work in our Edinburgh George Street shop as well as a small selection online.