Once again, the UK Hugglets Guide was a great key to reading many of the changes in the UK teddy bear world. If you think between the advertisements from one year to the next, it's fairly straightforward to draw conclusions about new bear artists entering the industry, established artists working hard to move things forward and bear artists who have opted for a complete change of direction. The guide is also a reasonably reliable indicator to which specialist shows are still going strong, which have fallen by the wayside, which shops are thriving, which have ceased trading in artist bears and so on. There have been many changes throughout 2008, but I believe some of that change has been long overdue and although it has challenged everyone involved in keeping the bear world alive, the upside is that challenge motivates wonderful creativity!
Despite the economic gloom and doom spouted on almost every news bulletin around the world over past months, I am pleased to report each and every All Bear created in 2008 quickly found a new owner and for that, I am extremely grateful to my collectors without whom I could not continue my chosen work. My bears have introduced me to some truly wonderful people in 2008 and I have loved the contact with both new friends and old!
2008 TOBY Industry's Choice Award (right)
On a creative level, I am confident the work I am now achieving is of my best and my 2008 TOBY Industry's Choice Award, has certainly endorsed all that I continually strive for; a fabulous accolade and one I shall always treasure. I am already in the throes of planning new designs for 2009 and after my Christmas break, feel fired up and raring to get back into my workroom. My first show of 2009 will be the Hugglets' 'Winter Bearfest' in Kensington; this is always my favourite show of any new year because everyone is bursting with such creativity at the start of the New Year!
In my ongoing quest for inspirational events at which to offer my bears to collectors in person, I exhibited at several specialist shows last year and for these opportunities, I would like to thank the organisers for their dedication to the promotion of our most special teddy bears. I am looking forward to taking part in the ever popular Hugglets' shows in 2009, but have decided not to rebook the 'Teddy Bear Artist Event' at Stratford Upon Avon, because, despite the wonderful attention to detail and innovative displays, on a practical level it really is too far for me to travel. The online shows I have participated in have been full of fun and I would like to extend these events next year, perhaps to include one or two online gallery shows of my own ... I know how much you all enjoyed 'Santa's Sack' and that has set me thinking! I also have a collaborative venture in the pipeline, but for now, that's top secret - I'll let you know when it comes together; suffice it to say, this has the potential to be a very exciting project!
Hugglets 'Teddies 2008' show in Kensington, London
2008 saw the sad demise of my favourite UK teddy bear mag, the 'Teddy Bear Scene' and so I am praying that editorial publishing opportunities for teddy bear artists and bear related businesses continue to be well supported throughout 2009. I have secured several advertising opportunities for All Bear with magazines in both Australia and America and will continue to keep my eyes and ears alert for further invitations, in an effort to help promote the artist teddy bear world and of course, to continue to share my All Bears with as international a market as possible! I really do believe it is vitally important for everyone involved to play an active part in keeping our bear industry vibrant by taking a global view - talking about, thinking about and of course acting to expand horizons wherever appropriate. In my view, this is the only way to ensure the industry's evolution and secure its future for generations to come.
All Bear advertisement for Teddy Bear and Friends magazine
January 2009 issue
And on that note, I am delighted to report the success of the British Bears on the Net forum -what a project that has been! UK bear artists are at last reaping the benefits of an online central resource established to provide information, support and friendship. Learning how to build the forum was a challenge, but one I enjoyed and I am so pleased the BBN membership is now finding the forum useful. Long may it continue!
British Bears on the Net forum
So what will 2009 bring? The New Year is always a good time for review, so I will shortly be thinking through my plans for 2009 in an effort to recognise what worked well for All Bear in 2008 and what did not. These thoughts will encompass all aspects of running my little business, from how I cope with admin and financial planning, through to the design of my bears and where I would like to take that design process next; marketing/promotional opportunities will naturally come to the fore and alongside editorial coverage, website maintenance, blog development, show planning and so forth. This review will also encompass my competitive work, because I believe the major international competitions offer a terrific focus for the teddy bear as art and wherever possible, should be supported by serious bear artists.
TOBY Industry's Choice Awards
All in all, I can honestly say I am content with the way 2008 panned out for All Bear and I am looking forward to the challenges of 2009. In the meantime though, it's time for me to thank you all for sharing the ramblings of this bear maker's blog throughout 2008 and to wish you all,
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!