By Kate Marsden
This week we’re visiting the vibrant Tooting Market in South London to take a look at shop, gallery and workshop space Love Art. Gemma and Claire tell us all about their shop and the importance of valuing small businesses and buying into the work of artists.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
We run Love Art, a shop, gallery and workshop space in Tooting Market. ‘We’ are Gemma Lloyd and Claire Rudkin, we met at Kingston University training to be film & television designers. Before that we were both at art college.
What does a typical day involve?
If we’re running morning art classes it’s brilliantly manic. We have a small space so it entails clearing our display table and then filling it with all the materials we need for the class. Once the class is over all the shop items are put back on the table, myself and Claire are getting very deft at table displays now. If it’s a day without classes we sit in the space and serve and talk to customers and attempt to create our own work.
Where do you work? What is your shop like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
We work at Love Art in Tooting Market, it’s one of the market units and there’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst all the market traders. Both myself and Claire have other jobs, Claire works as a television designer and I work as a theatre producer and actor’s agent, so when we’re not in Love Art we’re charging around everywhere.
When we’re not working at all is rare, but we enjoy long walks, cycling, trips to Tooting Lido, mysterious adventures across the UK and abroad, cinema, good food and socialising.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing shop/gallery owners at the moment?
The reluctance for people to pay for art unless it’s very affordable - we try to keep our prices very reasonable but there’s some work that has to be the price it is and it’s often tough to convince people that it’s still ok to buy. Battling with on-line companies that can of course be a lot cheaper than us…. but overall we don’t really have any complaints and love what we do and our customers.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
We would love to run more of everything, more classes and expand into other locations while still maintaining our ethos that everything is designed or made by a real live artist.
Do you have any tips for fellow small business owners and designer/makers who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Don’t underestimate the long hard slog, you have to be the eternal optimist that you will be able to pay yourself one day and you need to be continually marketing the hell out of everything.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Completely with you on that one, cards are our biggest seller and we love them all and of course, a sale is a sale.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Terribly important, we really rely on people valuing small businesses and the value of buying into artists.
What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
Market and talk about it as much as possible... We’d also be very happy to have some flyers in the shop.