During the Furniture Makers Industrial Tour a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time making an effort to speak to the other students taking part in the residential. As it happened, I recognized the tall figure of Tim Evershed, having seen him at the New Forest Competition back in July 2016; I went over to introduce myself.
As it transpired, I had been keeping up to date with Tim’s work through Instagram, unaware that Brook Studio (https://www.instagram.com/brook_studio/) was in fact his enterprise. Since the summer, Tim’s work has had much recognition, picking up two awards at the New Forest Show and being accepted onto this year’s Hot House scheme with the Crafts Council. Following our chat on the Industrial Tour, I caught up with Tim to ask him a few more questions.
How did you get into furniture design and making?
I trained as a product designer at University but became disillusioned when I graduated during the difficult economic climate and was unable to find work without moving cities. I began working as a boat builder and quickly realised I found immense satisfaction in working with my hands. From there I decided to train as a furniture maker which gave a lot of the design skills I had learned at Uni some context.
Have you come into contact with many women since pursuing a career in furniture? How do you think this affects your impression of the industry?
I have personally found Furniture making to be male dominated but less male dominated than other trades I have worked in. I feel like that’s about to change though. Christian Notley MBE, at Chichester College (where I trained) has worked tirelessly to dispel their reputation as a bit of an old boys club and now many more women are enrolling and finding industry related work after their studies.
What is your favourite aspect of the creative process?
I like to keep an idea in my head or sketchbook for a really long time before I do anything at all. You need that time for any questions to tick over in the subconscious of your mind. I love that moment when the answer to a problem presents itself to you, which for some reason is always in the middle of the night. I have found that if I rush into making then I usually end up disappointed with the outcome.
Why have you decided to pursue your own business, what is the main appeal?
When I was looking around for fulfilling work (and failing) I became quite depressed. My friend who had just retrained to become a barber advised me to look for a career that fitted in with my life rather than change my life to fit the career I thought I wanted. He was right, but at that point I decided I would give up looking and create that job for myself.
How do you find the work-life balance within this industry, particularly, as you have a young child- and are setting out on your own? Do you feel being a woman in the same situation as yourself would be different?
Working for myself means that I am able to manage my own time and this really suits me. I don’t work rigidly 9 to 5. I take a break when I need it, not when it’s convenient for someone else. I think it’s important to find your own rhythm – sometimes that means working until 1am but you forget that you’re tired and hungry when you’re in a state of flow. Seeing my 6 year old son every weekend forces me to stop, which is beneficial. It’s not a break – being a parent is much more mentally demanding than being a furniture maker, but it takes me out of furniture mode and immerses me in something else. I think that male or female, children or no children, it’s really important to have a network of supportive people around you when you are starting out.
You have recently joined the Hot House program, what are your initial impressions? What encouraged you to apply? What do you hope to get out of it?
I’m 4 sessions in now and so far have found the program to be very energizing. Every participant is working so hard towards their own goals and it’s contagious! I have also noticed that I have become far less concerned with what other businesses are doing. After all it’s irrelevant because every crafts business is different – Instead of hopelessly comparing myself to others, I focus my efforts on honing what’s good and unique about what I do.
I applied because I felt that undergrads go to Uni for 3 years in order to learn how to run a successful business, yet we makers somehow expect ourselves to learn this on the fly. I hope that Hothouse provides me with more confidence and clarity when speaking about my work, and also hope to make some great friends.
Is there something you have learnt from your experience and education in furniture design and making, what advice would you pass onto others following in your footsteps?
I would say that it’s not always the best designer or maker that makes it in this industry. These things only go so far. It’s the person with, determination, entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to take repeated knock backs and carry on that makes it.