8 Mar 2009

Artisan of the Week, Kevin of Dig the Earth.

As we are having a paper/card monster making weekend I thought the Artisan of the week should be someone that works in card and paper. Kevin of Dig the Earth not only has a shop banner that I love, but his Coriandr and Etsy shops are full of paperycardy goodness! His work is bright, colourful and cheerful. Kevin is dedicated to using recycled materials in his work, something we all should be doing. His shops are a delight to visit and lift my spirits. I'll let Kevin tell you all about his craft and life.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
Hi my name is Kevin and I'm behind Dig The Earth. I'm Yorkshire born and bred and live on the outskirts of Bradford, near the Yorkshire Dales, with my wife and two little boys. I create graphical handmade greetings cards on my trusty iMac. I pride myself on always using 100% recycled board and envelopes for my cards and supply them with biodegradable corn-starch protective bags instead of using plastic wraps. I also experiment with drawing and doodling on shop bought wooden mirror frames. I like the idea of taking something quite common and bland and making it unique with a permanent fibre tip pen!
Just one false move can render the mirror frame ruined - life on the edge, haha!

2. What led you to take up your craft?
I was always the 'arty' one in my class at school and ended up studying Graphic Design and then Advertising at art college.
This was in the 80's before everyone was using a computer. I had old-school tutors that taught typography, calligraphy, how to use marker pens and how to produce artwork on drawing boards with scalpels and glue! I've worked in advertising agencies and design studios ever since. Currently I run the artwork studio for an agency on the outskirts of Leeds. My Dig The Earth work is a creative outlet, an extension of what I do on a daily basis - but with no client intervention!

My wife set up a handmade jewellery company and I had no idea until last year that sites like Etsy or Coriandr even existed. It was a revelation! It was only when she started selling on-line that I realised that there could be a market for my work too! I love the fact that you don't have to set up your own website, handmade sites are so inspiring - always full of new ideas.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I actually like the blank piece of paper scenario...it's usually a designers worst nightmare, but I enjoy it, I like creating new things. If I produce something that I really like, I like to experiment and roll it out in various colour ways or patterns, each variant tends to attract new admirers.

Because I sell on-line, I like the fact that my cards are all made to order. I don't have a stockroom full of products that no one wants to buy! That's the beauty of computer generated work for me, it helps keep my overheads down! I only print and make up the cards when the orders come in.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
Juggling my time. I think that you have to sacrifice your 'making' time by promoting in the forums, but if you go on some of the larger sites this can be so intense! It's hard to know when to give in and get back to doing what you love! I'm new to blogging too, so that tends to eat into my time. I'd like to know the secret (if there really is one) of how to attract a customer to your on-line store!

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
This is really difficult. I really like what I do for my 'proper job' but is it not most people's ideal to be able to 'give up the day job'?

Ideally I'd love to work from home, I like the concept of cottage industry and self-sufficiency - but making a profit would be good! I'd love to be successful with what I'm doing now, maybe even diversify into large format gicleƩ prints.

We have a great two storey outbuilding in our garden that we call 'The Shed', we're currently in the process of making it a usable space for my wife to use as her jewellery workshop. So maybe in a year's time we'll both be in there, hunched over torches, making lampwork beads!

We've also recently bought an Adana printing press, so at some point we'll both be trying our hand at letterpress printing!

Anything as long as it's creative!

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
To believe in what you do. When you look at handmade websites there are so many fantastic sellers with the most amazing ideas and products, that it's easy to start doubting your work. There are so many people in the forums asking 'What am I doing wrong?', 'Why are my things not selling?'. I'm a great believer in just sticking at it, your customers will eventually find you. It may take a month, it may take a year, just don't lose hope! I'm sure that there's a market for everything! Just be proud and positive about your own work. No doubts!

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
I know I'm really biased, but my wife's jewellery site Ruby Spirit Designs, although I did have a bit of a hand in the site too! I'm really proud of what she's done and think that her jewellery is fantastic.

I really like re-Collect because Katcha's environmental stance is inspiring.

There are so many fantastic print makers on Etsy, the work is just stunning, I love the prints that She Rides The Lion makes, they're really, really great!

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
I'm a veggie, so anything without legs is good! Waitrose do a really nice Greek salad sandwich – olives, feta, mint. Failing
that? Good old cheese ploughman's.

Thank you Kevin for sharing your work and thoughts with us. I hope your dream of becoming able to work from home in the "Shed" happens. For those readers that want to keep up with what goes on behind the scenes of Dig the Earth you can surf over to Kevin's blog were you can see his latest creations and read a bit about their making and Kevin's day to day life. So if you are looking for beautiful greetings cards, mirrors or note card get over to Dig the earth and find some beauties!

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops


  1. I really enjoyed this interview and getting to know Kevin a bit better. I enjoy his Monday posts for the Coriandr blog too.

  2. The designs are well thought of and colorful despite the environmental minimalist feel. He is a treasure to the artists community.


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