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Zoe Watts silversmith

Zoe started her starter studio programme in October 2011.  She had already benefited from the post graduate course for silversmiths and jewellers at Bishopsland, enjoyed a gap year travelling the globe and then came to us, only wanting to stay for 1 year.   But 15 months on and we are lucky that she is still with us, enjoying her time in the workshop where she is currently preparing for an exhibition at Goldsmiths Hall in London ' Growing Talent'. 

How did you experience the first year of the Starter Studio Programme What was difficult? What was fantastic? The first year of the starter studio programme has been a fantastic opportunity for me. I have really loved being in a creative environment, meeting and talking to other artists at different stages in their careers and with differing disciplines. I have found the community of the Persistence Works building very supportive and inspiring. For me, the starter studio programme provided the extra confidence and support to carry on establishing my own business. I feel I have succeeded in improving my making skills with the technical support and knowledge available from Cameron Maxfield and my experience with the business side of things is getting better all the time. Having a mentor like Brett has been invaluable too as I pick his brains all the time!

It has been a hard year in a lot of ways too, juggling the finance side of things with the pressures of time management that being a self employed designer maker brings, but all in all I wouldn't have changed it for the world!

How do you think you have benefited from the support you have been given by Yorkshire Artspace? The support that you receive from those involved in the starter studio is not only the mentors, technical experts or course organisers, but the other people on the programme with you are like a little family. I feel like I work best in a shared workshop environment; you can give each other help and advice with all sorts of things, and just being around other people in the same boat as you ( being self employed) makes it all a little less lonely. I have made some great mates along the way! Mir Jansen, the programme manager is always there to discuss ideas for the bis' and has a lot of good advice and ideas of ways you can go about promoting yourself. Cameron Maxfield is a bit of a legend and has endless technical knowledge, it's great! The mentors have all been there before and have been/are successful so their knowledge is invaluable. The great thing about the programme is that you are within walking distance of the sheffield trade and the Assay office.

What are your aims for your final year? What do you hope to have achieved? I am hoping to continue to build up stock and improve my technical ability further in the final year of the programme. Things have really began to come together for me this year but with the continued support I feel i'll be in a really good position when I leave. I want to focuss on building more jewellery ranges in the final year, homing in on the exhibitions that really work well for my work and stocking a lot more galleries. Tool making is also something I want to spend time on; its important to make the most of the equipment that is available here at the Starter Studio.