15 Feb Interview – Alison Jackson
After graduating in 2008 from the ANU School of Art, Alison Jackson established her own workshop space, Pocket Studio. The workshop has now developed into a fully equipped Silversmithing studio where Alison runs her own full time practice as well as sharing her knowledge through a program of short courses. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alison about her practice at the end of last year.
What does a typical day look like for you in the studio?
Everyday is different for me in the studio. I have recently taken on a lovely studio assistant who helps me out a couple of days a week – so if she’s in, I’m planning our lists of what we need to make, monitoring material stock and ordering, making work, keeping track of our orders, problem solving making hiccups.
I also juggle this with the admin side of my business, which takes up just as much time – uploading images to the website, organising photos, emailing…. more emailing, invoicing, and planning for events and jobs in the upcoming months.
I also teach 2 nights a week in my studio, so towards the end of the day there is always a bit of a rush to get things packed away and ready for my lovely students to arrive!
I love that each day is different and always presents new challenges.
What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes since starting up your practice?
Taking the leap to go full time in my business was a big step. At the time I knew it was, but I think now I look back on it, I realise just how big a leap it was and I’m very proud of myself for doing it – especially with the attitude, “if it doesn’t work I’ll just get another job”. You’ve got to back yourself 100%!
My business continues to grow, which is fantastic, but it also has presented its challenges – like employing staff – I’ve learnt lots about the nitty gritty of employing people as well as managing my workload and processes so that things are ready each day my studio assistant is in the workshop.
Tell us about your new makers mark, and brand refresh by Smack Bang Designs?
This year was the right time for me to invest in new branding. To date, I’ve always done my own branding and graphic design – which had been working for me. I decided that I really wanted to sit down and think about my brand, where I wanted it to go, what I wanted it to be and what it is now.
Deciding to work with Smack Bang was a no brainer, I love their work and aesthetic and right from the get-go I felt right at home working with them. Having an outside perspective and expertise working on my branding was exactly what I needed.
As part of my re-brand, I also chose to re-do my makers’ mark. A makers’ mark is pretty well like a signature for your work, it was no small decision to change it. My original makers’ mark was designed pretty well in the last days I was at uni on the back page of sketchbook. It was great, but as things evolved and changed, it didn’t quite sit well with the rest of my branding. It was the right time to re-visit it along with a new logo and colour palette.
I wrote a bunch about my decision to re-do my makers’ mark here: alisonjackson.com.au/blogs/stories/makers-mark
You’ve worked on a few different collaborations, including the installation that surrounded the Eden workshop space at the Canberra Centre. Can you tell us a bit more about this project?
Working on the Eden installation was incredibly exciting and a fantastic project! It is incredibly refreshing to see larger businesses investing in something different – looking at the way they can team up with local creatives and niche experts to approach things from a whole new perspective.
The whole idea of the EDEN Health and Wellness Sanctuary is an Australian first, so investing in unique artworks goes hand in hand with the whole concept and ultimately gives the Canberra Centre an edge to stand out from the crowd within their industry.
One of the most exciting things about being approached to work on this, is the recognition my skills as a silversmith are transferrable at different scales. Even though I usually work on a small scale, this can be extended into larger works. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of and something I would love to pursue more of in the future.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself as a graduate with the knowledge you have now, what would you say?
Stay true to your passion. Be determined and work hard. Absorb all the information you can, if you want to make it a full time business, make sure you do the hard yards understanding and learning how to run a business.