Frankly, The Folksy Magazine


Meet the Maker… Nicola Baker

by Emily. Average Reading Time: almost 7 minutes.

Nicola Baker medium white with seeds 2

Fancy a peek inside  the wonderful world of designer-maker Nicola Baker? Go on then, peek away…..

You’re a newbie on Folksy aren’t you? 

I have only been selling on Folksy for a little over a month. The time has gone so fast and I have so much more to add to my shop. It’s so exciting!

What’s your craft?

My products are inspired by textures, colours and techniques I have discovered mainly while travelling. My house is my canvas; sometimes I’m guilty of creating art that I would like to own, but hopefully that resonates with other people too. I love working with paper and experimenting with different materials and mediums in conjunction with it. It’s exciting to see how an idea can develop organically by adding different elements; it can take on it’s own life. For that reason each piece is an individual work of art.

Nicola adds seeds to one of her paper bowls
Nicola adds seeds to one of her paper bowls

Do you have a favourite piece of work? 

I have a few pieces which I love for very different reasons. I just love this paper bowl as it looks so simple and delicate. In contrast, the vibrant colours in this collage are so striking and I love how paper strips can be used to create the topography of the landscape. I like to create a “made you look” moment. If Tuscany wasn’t mentioned in the title, it could be a random pattern of strips; I’m giving the game away slightly but once you know the inspiration, the colours become more apparent.

White Paper Bowl with seeds - Nicola Baker
White Paper Bowl with seeds - Nicola Baker
Sunrise - Nicola Baker
Sunrise - Nicola Baker

When did you first become a “maker”?

I’ve always been creative, probably more so than anyone else I grew up with. I developed my skills at art school and later University, but it was several years after graduating that I began to take art seriously as a way of earning a living. I sold my creations for several years in the North East of England at art fairs and in retail shops and galleries. After pausing for several years to have two children I’m once again at a point in my life where I can concentrate more seriously than ever on my art. Outlets like Folksy are a great way of getting my work seen by a much wider audience than I ever could have achieved even five years ago.

Lilac Paper bowl - Nicola Baker
Lilac Paper bowl - Nicola Baker

Where is your favourite place to work? 

I divide my time between a studio and office I share with my photographer husband and the converted garage in my house. The former is where I effectively run my business – answering emails, updating my web site and doing general admin – anything that isn’t too messy! The garage is where most of my creations are formed and is very much “my workspace” – it’s where I formulate and experiment with ideas. I’ll always prefer working with my hands than in front of a screen any day.

How do you keep your work unique?

I like to use materials in a way that most people would find unconventional, adding depth and colour with each element. I also try to create objects that may seem attractive at first glance but reward the viewer by looking closer.

Seeds and dried flowers play a big part in Nicola's work
Seeds and dried flowers play a big part in Nicola's work

Describe a typical day for you?

Each day is different, but generally I check into my shop, do the necessary admin and promotion I need to do, then get around to making products or finishing work off. There are some days where I don’t make anything, then others where I could just keep going and going. For myself, flexibility is the key. I always have a list for everything; somedays nothing on the list gets crossed off or things get added as I think of more ideas. Other days I can go through a list of “to-do’s” methodically and quickly. Creative moments come without warning and you can’t switch that trait on and off as easily as in a conventional job, so I have to be flexible if I need to get anything done.

What three tools could you not bare to live without? 

A card bonefolder, used for flattening folds and making smooth creases. Secondly, a good quality paper trimmer – boring but essential. Finally, my Blackberry. My life is on there. I’m lost without it!

Essential Kit
Essential Kit

What gets the creative juices flowing?

Sometimes I have to take a break from it, whether it be for five minutes or for the rest of the day. I usually go and work on something else or catch up with my admin if the juices really aren’t flowing! Some days a field trip is in order – to the library, an art gallery or just a walk to check out architecture, surroundings and just to clear my head and thought process.

I feel if I keep working on something and I’m just not feeling it then it shows in the end product. If you are making something just for the sake of it then it usually shows and as a maker you view that work differently. I just want to be the best I can be and to make the best products. I keep telling my 6 year old never to give up, just keep trying and you will feel so proud. So I’ve got to try, really!

Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?

I feel that subconsciously you are inspired from the world around you, retrieving the necessary information when it’s required. However there are many artists whose work I admire. I remember going to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and seeing the work of Giacomo Balla from her private collection. Seeing first hand how he had captured movement in his work and in turn adding depth to the painting was remarkable. I know my style differs from his, yet I hope to convey the depth he did in my own work, drawing the viewer in to look more closely at the work itself. Jungmo Kwon and Jean-Michel Letellier are great modern day artists who’s work using paper is superb, stretching the possibilities of paper and what can be produced with it.

SUP.SOG by Jungmo Kwon
SUP.SOG by Jungmo Kwon

What do you love most about being a maker?

The freedom to experiment with lots of different mediums. I love the fact that there is no right or wrong, it’s subjective. There’s a market for most things in this eclectic world of ours.

Tuscan Landscape - Nicola Baker
Tuscan Landscape - Nicola Baker

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

To keep making my products, growing the product range and to ship worldwide.

What would you say to any makers starting out?

If you are having a bad day or a period where you are struggling with ideas or sales then view it as a bad period, nothing else. Don’t dwell on it. As a crafts person you put so much pressure on yourself and self doubt can easily creep in, but without this self-critique would our products be the best they can be?

Know your market, be patient and keep doing what you love. If you make something with passion, the money will come. A bad day is temporary, but your creativity is permanent.Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of social media and how it can help your business.

The world is our marketplace now and there’s never been a better time to sell your work. The goalposts have changed – leaflets and business cards aren’t as important as a good web presence and Twitter account. It’s one more thing to learn and get to grips with, but those who do will find they not only build their sales, but accelerate them.

You can see more of Nicola’s beautiful work here. Or browse paper products on Folksy here.