Introduce us to you and your brand!
My name is Mark also known as the Edinburgh Sketcher. I have been capturing my life and the events in Edinburgh using my ink and watercolour drawings for ten years.
How has your brand developed since you began?
I began just doodling pay lunch breaks when I worked for the Scotsman newspaper as a Graphic Artist and Designer. As my colleagues were starting written blogs I thought I could do a similar job but using drawings. I quickly built up a following as people could see my initial scribbles becoming more of a style and a ‘sketch blog’ became a diary of events in the capital.
How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?
I passed the The Scottish Design Exchange in Ocean Terminal, Leith one day and imagined my work being in their window. I hadn’t had any merchandise made at that time but had sold pieces and so had a few prints. SDX showed faith in me and I have grown my range through them. Through the rent a space model of selling I have been able to try out new pieces which has enabled me to slowly build my range of pieces.
"I passed the The Scottish Design Exchange in Ocean Terminal, Leith one day and imagined my work being in their window."
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist? Motivating myself I would say. I have highs and lows of motivation and inspiration, of being in the creative moment and loving pushing myself and making money! But at the same time sometimes it can be a slog and you just have to get through those times knowing that the next creative high is just around the corner.
What do you consider to be your most popular product?
I would say my line drawing of the Shore in Leith, it is simple but detailed ink line drawing and matched with a single strong colour looks distinctive and recognisable. It was one of a number of drawings I created a few years ago of eight different scenes of Edinburgh.
What piece are you the proudest of?
I can’t think of one particular piece, I am lucky enough to have worked with many Edinburgh companies, for drawings which have been used again and again, but also made some really personal commissions for people to hang on their wall and both give me a sense of pride.
Do you have any past accomplishments you wish to share?
I am proud to have worked with many hotels in Edinburgh and also Visit Scotland, who used my sketches to showcase Edinburgh in an event in London. I am also pleased to have built an enjoyable side project of wedding sketching which although has been absent through the pandemic I do have a good number of bookings for later this year and so look forward to getting back to that.
"I am proud to have worked with many hotels in Edinburgh and also Visit Scotland, who used my sketches to showcase Edinburgh in an event in London"
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?
I would say about 50% of my business was live event work, either sketching at events or teaching workshops and so that has obviously stopped through the pandemic. I think being an artist full time has never been easy and I was fortunate in that due to the precarious nature of the business I was already working in a number of different directions. And so I could focus on the non live parts, like my Etsy shop and private commissions.
How have you spent your time during lockdowns?
Initially I was reacting to the pandemic, as I had free time from the cancellation of live events. I made hand painted gift cards to send directly to people you couldn’t see and these also made money for the NHS. As the pandemic became the new normal I concentrated on stocking my Etsy shop, selling private commissions and also I have started work on a children’s book with a writer friend, which we hope to launch in the summer.
"I made hand painted gift cards to send directly to people you couldn’t see and these also made money for the NHS"
Have you discovered any new hobbies or passions in the last year?
I have primary school aged children and so have had to become a part time teacher this year, and have enjoyed more time with my children. Also we have discovered a new passion for gardening, we are lucky to have a small strip of land and although I wouldn’t say it was a particularly new passion for gardening, we have had lots more time to plan and see how things grow and develop which has been great.
How do you think shopping habits and retail may change after the pandemic ends?
Originally I thought everyone would switch to online shopping for good after we had got so used to it but now I can see people are eager to get back to looking around a shop in person. I am sure the pandemic has increased the percentage of those shopping from home more regularly but I think similarly to people having enough of Zoom now people are also a bit sick of online shopping and hopefully will flood back for the personal interaction of high street shopping.
How did SDX being closed affect your business?
SDX in Edinburgh had only just moved to the central George St location and so was beginning to establish itself again in the city. Being closed has obviously had an effect of not having the income from sales but also the profile of having my merchandise on show has had an effect on people being aware of Edinburgh Sketcher. Which over time has an effect on commission orders too.
What do you hope to gain from working with SDX going forward?
Having my stock in SDX is more than just being able to sell artwork and merchandise. The shop is a real life advert to what I do and a showcase for Edinburgh Sketcher. I hope to see footfall grow in store and with that more awareness of my brand.
"..I like being part of a group of Edinburgh artists, working together, and hope to be more involved with in store activities and meet ups with other members."
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?
Spend as much time on your craft as possible, practice, practice practice! Try different styles and the more you do the more your own unique style will emerge.
And finally, tell us your favourite inspirational quote!
I can’t think, there is so many one thing I always say to myself when feeling anxious. I just count the hours until the event is over and visualise the good feeling I would have if everything went well. So something like:
‘In 8 hours you will be back at home and you will feel so good after a great day!’
Thank you to Mark, The Edinburgh Sketcher, for participating in our blog questionnaire.
You can find his work in our Edinburgh George Street Shop