Artists’ Career Paths: Lindsey Tyson
Case Study 5
Lindsey Tyson, Textile Artist: Scarborough
Where did you train and/or how did you begin your career as an artist?
I have always painted and created from a young age, but was dissuaded from a career in art, so when I left school I went to catering college. I returned to education and art college at the age of 27 taking a foundation course in York and obtaining a first class honours degree in textile design from Derby University, with a specialism in jacquard weaving. I then worked in the textile industry as a weave designer for the automotive industry for over ten years. After starting a family, I decided to go it alone, and started holding art and textile classes from my studio, and making my own ‘art’ once more. I attended a short feltmaking course – and that was the start of my ‘new career’.
What was most helpful to you in the early days of establishing yourself as a successful practitioner.
Moving studio to Woodend Creative Workspace had a big impact on my presence as an artist as I was part of something bigger and not in an isolated studio. Then in 2010, I received an Arts Council Grant for personal development. This gave me some breathing space to experiment and focus on my work, as well as having the benefit of a mentor, Sheila Smith. The grant, as well as a few synchronistic events, made a huge difference to me, helping me find my direction and a style of work. I then started attending larger craft fairs, which increased my profile.
What do you think have been the most important /pivotal events or moments which established you as a successful practitioner?
Taking part in a joint exhibition called ‘Entwined’ with artist and curator, Jan Bee Brown and jeweler Samantha Birch, was a great experience. We were all artists at Woodend, and the exhibition was held in the gallery there. I thought it looked very professional. We had a fantastic response from the public, and a lot of visitors – I was very proud to be part of it, I think that it definitely helped raise my profile. Also attending, firstly the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester, and then the British Craft Trade Fair – these really put me on the map.
Is there anything you would have done differently or you wish you had avoided?
Being from an industrial background, I didn’t really know how to go about getting into the craft market, or even that that was what I wanted to do, so it took me quite a few years to find my way. As I am getting on a bit now, it would have been nice to have been more aware of my path forward, but you learn from everything you do, the positives and the negatives, and it is all useful in some way. I did waste quite a lot of time and money attending different craft fairs and events, whilst feeling my feet.
What advice would you give to someone starting out now who is working in your medium?
There are a lot of felt makers out there, so your work needs to be unique. Different from everyone else’s. It’s important to have a coherent style, and I think it is also important to know your market – who you are selling to, and where to sell it.
Do you have any particular ambitions for the future?
To keep growing and become more established. I feel like I have only really just begun – but I would like to keep pushing the boundaries of feltmaking, and see where it takes me.
Anything else you would like to say about your career development?
It’s never too late – I love what I do, and can’t imagine doing anything else now. It is hard work, but it is worth it to be your own boss and to do what you want to do! I just wish I had started a little earlier.