East End Prints is an online gallery selling a really stunning and diverse range of prints from some of the hottest artists and designers around. It’s hard to believe that the collective is only a couple of years old..they seem to have accomplished so much in such a short space of time!! Helen Edwards is not only the founder behind the gallery but also the heart, soul and creative force responsible for how far it has come. With over 15 years experience of artist management, print publishing, licensing and curating exhibitions, it’s no surprise that East End Prints is becoming a favourite place to go for art online.
Artists include Dieter Braun, Vintage By Hemingway, Kris Tate, Anthony Peters, Paul Tebbot, Patrick Thomas, Paul Collis, Bangkokney Belle, Jess Wilson, Sweet View, Dale Edwin Murray and Morning Edit’s very own Of Life and Lemons! …and there are soooooo many more too! Helen kindly let us pick her brain about how East End Prints began and what else she has on the cards!…put the kettle on, grab a biccie, and enjoy….
© Patrick Thomas
Q. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Do you come from a creative background?
Helen: I come from a bizarre little town called Clacton on Sea, Essex where the Victorian splendour of a seaside town has been replaced by the pound and betting shop. I spent a lot of my youth drawing and being bored, which I now understand drives creativity, at the time it was unbearable. My parents, I would say were both creative in their own ways.
Q. What was the incentive behind setting up East End Prints, and how did it all start? Had it been something you had been wanting to do for a while?
Helen: I have always wanted my own business and I never thought it would be financially viable or possible to get something off the ground on a budget. By chance I took voluntary redundancy which spring boarded the project. I went on a business course, wrote a business plan and never looked back!
© Vintage By Hemingway
© Hennie Howarth
Q. Can you tell us about any specific high points in East End Prints’ journey to date? …and any low points or stumbling blocks (though we hope not too many!)?
Helen: I guess a couple of high points would be the fabulous One Ton Show, at Shoreditch Town Hall. 100 artists for £100, where we had customers literally queuing round the corner to buy art. We even had the shoe designers from Clarks come to view our exhibition after WGSN trendspotters had picked up on our Alphabet theme as being ‘on trend’. Very satisfying indeed. Trends and trendspotting always make me chuckle as you have to start them, not follow them and every year seems to be a variation on a similar theme.
Thankfully we haven’t had too many stumbling blocks…though I would say that its really hard work particularly as there is only one of me – with a young baby!
© Sweet View
© Nick Boyce
Q. You now supply Urban Outfitters with some of their wall art pieces..this must have been a really exciting opportunity for EEP and for your artists! How is it all going? Do you have plans in the pipeline to work with any more retailers?
Helen: The UO collaboration is a great high and a lovely brand match as the artists we represent love this too. I am keen to offer the range exclusively to UO for the high street part of the business but we have just taken on 4 more online retailers – each of which will be given an exclusive range on request. Online is growing but you still need a shop window – hence we still display regularly at Spitalfields Art Market.
Q. You have such a fantastic collection of artists and designers available in your collectives… can you give us a little bit of background as to who came on board first with, and how it gained momentum?
Helen: I LOVE the artists and illustrators we work with – they have such a fun style and are easy going. I think Dale Edwin Murray and Anthony Peters are two who I would say made me believe a business was possible. Since Urban Outfitters we have had such a high calibre of submissions, which just helps the range grow and grow!
© Dale Edwin Murray
© Anthony Peters
Q. Did you find that artists were approaching you to come on board?
Helen: Yes, I would say now they are, it helped working in the industry previously of course! Its who you know in this world – and a little of what you know :O)
Q. You have just taken on the work of Artistic.ly – a design community showcasing some gorgeous graphic art prints from a fab stable of designers and illustrators. How are these being received by your fan-base? It’s a great fit, and yet brings an exciting new dimension to your collective!
Helen: Yes, I have had an eye on some of these artists for a while but never got round to contacting them – I have cherry picked who I felt would compliment the range rather than selecting artists whose style was already covered in the collection. I am always on the look out for new collaborations!
© Indur Design
© Lucy Dyson
Q. You regular participate in pop-up exhibitions, art shows and craft fairs… How important is it for you to be able have contact with your customers and artists, and discuss / receive feedback from people first-hand?
Helen: I do love a good art market –it’s a good chance to keep your toe in with what customers have to spend and how styles and tastes are changing. About 5 years ago people were prepared to spend a lot more money – ask anyone at Spitalfields and they would agree.
Q. What exciting plans have you got coming up this year? Anything we need to get into our diary?
Helen: My focus for the rest of the year is the Spitalfields Art Markets which I love doing and building those new online retailers. We are participating in the London Fields Design District this week for the London Design Festival, organised by our friends at the East London Design Show. We try to support all things East London where possible, and it’s going to be a great event! (find out more here – http://www.eastlondondesignshow.co.uk)
Q. What is a typical day for you like – is there such a thing as a ‘typical’ day?
Helen: Oh my no such thing! It would be anything from discussing contracts with artists or new retailers. Answering customer enquiries on print stock, dealing with complaints! Ordering new stock, managing deliveries – eating toast –shall I go on…?
© Joy Doom Manifesto
© Detroit Lives
© Kris Tate
Q. What advice would you give to anyone out there thinking about starting their own business in the creative field?
Helen: Do it! Realise your dreams and set yourself free from the rat race. Working for yourself is the most satisfying time you will ever have. Be prepared to sacrifice everything – you have no time to pluck your eyebrows, but you will be in a blissful state! You never quite stop worrying, but you have to take each day as it comes. ..and make sure your friends and family support you all the way.
Q. And finally, what are your long term goals for East End Prints? Do you have any specific aspirations or plans in mind for the future?
Helen: I hope EEP can continue to grow at a steady pace – recent business opportunities have allowed for this as well as new licensing opportunities. I would like to employ a digital intern/apprentice to deal with all the nonsense that I do not particularly enjoy. I would also like to spend more time inspiring young people to become entrepreneurs as well as set up a couple more businesses – not too much to ask?
Thanks Helen! x