Sail Creative 2017 Review

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A year in words,
by Mandy Barker

The past year has been a whirlwind of new collaborations, exhibitions, features and awards ceremonies. Not to mention Sail Creative turned one in the midst of it all! I look back at some of the highlights from the past twelve months and reveal a little about what’s on the cards for us in 2018.

Sail Creative’s top achievements of 2017

We’ve been involved with a tremendous range of projects in 2017, from brand identity to web design. However, there are four achievements from the past twelve months that have really been standout for us:

1. Curious Festival brand

Curious Arts Festival is an annual celebration of LGBTQ culture across the North East. It is a festival across five days, exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture through the arts. Sail Creative was honoured to work with the coordinators of the festival on a complete brand revolution, designing a new identity for the festival. Curious now have a strong, flexible and impactful identity. The brand has helped increase the live audience from 2016 to 2017 by 150%, and has received national recognition including features in Creative Review and Design Week.


Curious business cards Curious posters

2. Shortlisted for Freelancer of the Year – IPSE

Sail Creative was honoured to be shortlisted as a finalist for IPSE’s Freelancer the Year Awards. The exciting news followed after I had travelled down to London to represent Sail Creative at the pitching day at the beginning of April. The whole process was an incredibly challenging one, as I had to create a short film, podcast and interview to pitch Sail Creative’s mission and talents to a Dragon Den’s (but friendlier!) style judging panel.

The awards ceremony was held in June to coincide with National Freelancer Day. The day kicked off with freelancer workshops and followed up with the announcement of the winners. The entire experience was incredible and in 2018 I have been invited back to speak on the panel about her experiences as a freelancer. 

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3. Taking part in the Entrepreneurial Spark programme

This is a programme run by NatWest to support and challenge entrepreneurs to develop their mindset and behaviour for business success. Taking part, I discovered myself surrounded by a brilliant network of entrepreneurs who positively challenged me in many areas of my business.

Through workshops, co-working opportunities and support, I used the opportunity to develop positioning myself to attract new clients and collaborations. My confidence has soared and I am busy applying all that I’ve learned to take Sail Creative from strength to strength. If you’re small business, always keep an eye out to see what support is out there, some of it is invaluable.

4. Curating the Words Bare exhibition

My self-initiated project Words Bare, gathered research from the LGBTQ community across the UK, asking what challenges and experiences they have dealt with in society. Words Bare used these experiences to showcase some of what the challenges the LGBTQ community face, with the overall aim to question why these views are still very present. I curated the project into a public exhibition was held at Northern Stage over summer, as part of Newcastle’s Curious Festival in July. Holding the exhibition enabled me to grow both personally and professionally, whilst challenging some of the social perceptions of the LGBTQ community.

2017’s biggest challenge

With more clients and creative projects on our plate this year, the biggest challenge has definitely been managing time. I have found that starting a business and juggling my priorities has certainly tested me the most. Sensing an opportunity for self-development, I’ve been reading a lot of books about managing productivity and speaking to other people about how they effectively run their business. The good thing about being small is agility and choice, is that you can really choose clients and projects you are passionate about working on; instead of having to take every project to pay large overheads and a big team.

On the cards for 2018

We’ve been busy behind the scenes working to design a new website for Sail Creative, which will be launching in the new year.

Boosted by the success of Words Bare in 2017, we are excited to be working on our second exhibition, this time a collaboration to be included in the upcoming Curious Festival. It’s our aim to continue to work on creative projects with those disrupting the status quo; blending our passions for social change, culture and communities with what we love best – design!

We also look forward to continuing collaborations, with some exciting projects already booked in, along with the launch of a new site. Watch this space!

If you’d like to connect with us and keep in touch with what we’re up to in 2018, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email or say hello on social media.

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