Rachael Chambers, craft&design's Contemporary Craft Editor talks with
Angie and Paul Boyer, the creators of craft&design Magazine
The magazine has been around for over 30 years, when and where does the story of craft&design begin?
Angie: “Well.... let’s see if I can remember that far back! Paul and I met in 1976 when we were both working in design, advertising and photography in London’s West End. They were fabulous times, with masses going on and such a whirl of creativity in every respect from art, craft and photography to theatre, dance and music, it was an amazingly innovative time. By 1981 Paul had started his own graphic design business and we had a baby in tow, we were also selling our textile-based greetings cards and Paul’s paintings at craft fairs in an effort to keep the wolf from the door. Then Paul saw a ‘gap in the craft fair market’ - there was little or no information available to craftspeople or the public about where and when craft fairs were being held, so in December 1983 we launched Craftsman Magazine. Well, ‘magazine’ is a rather grand name for the quarterly, 16 page, 2 colour newsletter-cum magazine but that’s how it began. Since then the magazine has grown and flourished and in 2007 we successfully redesigned and relaunched it as craft&design magazine, the full colour contemporary craft magazine that you see today.”
Why isn’t the magazine based in London anymore?
Paul: “I fell in love with Yorkshire when Angie brought me here to walk the Cleveland Way and we decided that one day we would move here, so in 1987 we upped sticks and moved to a little village in the Yorkshire Wolds and started to concentrate solely on the magazine.”
How many staff do you employ?
Angie: “None! Over the years we’ve employed a number of staff and had offices in the nearby town, but times change, people move on, and our old friend ‘technology’ has enabled us to make significant developments to the way we work in recent years. Now there are just the two of us, we have no employees at all, and we do pretty much everything between us on the production and distribution of the magazine plus all the associated projects such as the Selected Awards and Craft and Design Month. It must be said though, that we couldn’t hope to manage it without the dedicated support of our wonderful team of freelancers (see below!). They’re based all over the UK and each one of them has their own business, which puts them in an ideal position to bring their special brand of expertise to craft&design on a regular basis.”
What have been the highlights of the past 30 years in business?
Angie: “For me one of the highlights must include the friendship and camaraderie that we were lucky to be part of during the early days of craft fairs. We would exhibit at about 30+ shows a year, usually staying on site in our caravan, the evenings were a time to gather together and share a few drinks and some food with friends. Our daughter grew up in very special times in the craft world as there was so much fun and freedom for the children. Another highlight is seeing the reaction when we announce our Newcomer Award Winner at the British Craft Trade Fair every year. The winner is often close to tears and the other makers are always hugely supportive with big rounds of applause. It’s wonderful to see how much the Award means to that young person just starting out in business. And of course our own Selected Awards and Craft & Design Month are both well established projects now and create such phenomenal promotion for designer makers all over the country, it's really very rewarding and makes all the work involved for us and our team so worthwhile.”
What changes to the industry have you seen over the years?
Paul: “When we started the magazine the whole industry was based on craft fairs and craft shops. We had 4,500 shows listed in 1984. In those days most exhibitors didn’t work full time at their craft. You could have a top end potter next to a bank manager selling wooden toys. Almost every village in Britain had a craft shop or two. Then came the 90’s property boom and the villages lost their shops. The part timers didn’t have to supplement their incomes anymore and people had more disposable income. Consumers wanted to have things that no one else had so galleries started to emerge. Most galleries now want to sell top end contemporary crafts and young makers have come along to fi ll that space.”
Why did you change the name and style of the magazine a few years ago?
Paul: “Because of the change in attitudes towards craft and my feeling that I wasn’t putting my whole heart into the design of the magazine we sat down and had a long discussion as to what direction we wanted to go in. As normal we found a few people who don’t like change, but I think in all we are now reflecting the craft industry much better than we ever did before”.
It seems craft&design magazine’s support and enthusiasm for the industry spreads beyond the realms of the pages of the magazine into initiatives such as the craft&design Selected Awards and more recently Craft and Design month. Who has funded these projects and what has been achieved?
Angie: “These two projects are managed solely by us and our small team of freelancers, and nothing we do receives any funding at all. Everything is funded by us, although it must be said that we’re hugely grateful to our advertisers and readers, without them there wouldn’t be a magazine or website, let alone any additional projects!
Paul: “Since first launched in 2009, our Selected Awards have become widely recognised as an industry leader in contemporary craft and create invaluable publicity for the makers themselves as well as for the British craft industry as a whole. The Awards are hugely respected, especially the craft&design Selected Maker of the Year Award, which always attracts a great deal of competition from the makers. We launched Craft and Design Month in May 2011 together with it's own dedicated website. Our aim is to take craft to the people, to make them aware of the enormous wealth of creative talent we have in Britain. Makers are encouraged to organise events where they can sell, demonstrate, or simply show their work, they can list everything on the Craft and Design Month website and we provide lots of free downloads to help them with publicity etc. It's grown phenomenally since the first year and it's great to see it so successfully helping to spread the word about great British craft and design.”
With such dedication to the magazine and to craft and design your lives must be incredibly full, do you have time for anything other than the magazine and its peripheral activities?
Paul: “Sometimes! Angie is a qualified yoga teacher, so on Thursdays she changes her hat and teaches yoga classes in the area. And for almost 30 years, up until fairly recently, we had dogs, so walking with them was a big part of what we did every day. In quiet times we both enjoy reading, music, theatre, cooking and gardening. Angie would like to write a book, and I talk about making furniture and we both help our daughter Jennie and her husband Adam with their business from time to time. They have a farm nearby with sheep and agricultural land, as well as a rapeseed oil press, so copy writing and packaging design is on the agenda when they need it. In 2010 we joined the ‘grandparents club’ when Charlie was born. Jennie and Adam now take him with them to some of the farmers markets and shows where they sell their oil products; life seems to have gone full circle somehow!”
What does the future hold for the magazine?
Paul & Angie: “Well, who knows - more of the same for many years to come hopefully, and perhaps some exciting new projects too!”