What advice would you offer to potential applicants?
"It's worth taking the time over the application because it puts you in a position where you really need to consider the reason behind making your work. For this reason alone it is worth it." - Simone Lia
Simone Lia Case Study
What was your winning business/project idea?
Publishing comics with Tom Gauld under the name of Cabanon Press
What did winning the Award mean to you and how did it help launch your career?
It paid for our initial print production, studio equipment and afforded us to take up studio space upon leaving college. The mentoring was personally invaluable, having the support of an experienced business man gave me confidence to make work that I truly believed in. It made me think that creative ideas, no matter how outlandish - were really possible.
My mentor also had a broad range of contacts that helped to put some of those ideas into practice. The most ambitious project for me was setting up a studio for 20 businesses who would otherwise be operating from home. The idea was to build cross platform networks, friendship and community at an affordable price for people that would otherwise be working at home in isolation. With another business partner, we ran a studio called Happiness at Work in a disused pub. The landlord was a charitable environmental trust and the profits were pumped back into the local community.
Having the comics published under Cabanon Press opened doors, it meant that both Tom and my own work was seen by many professionals working in the industry and this lead to commissioned work. Tom has had a strip in The Guardian for more than 10 years and has influenced so many up and coming comic artists. My comic stories were picked up by Jonathan Cape and I am working on my third graphic novel with them. I also have recently started a weekly comic strip with The Observer.
What skills did you develop as a result of DBACE?
- Creativity / innovation
- Developing business plans / funding applications
- Articulating your ideas / creative vision
- Critical thinking
- Collaborating with others
- Self management
- Problem solving
- Self confidence
- Initiative / risk taking
- Project management
- Cashflow / budgets
What have been your greatest achievements since winning the Award?
In terms of work, I think that it was self-publishing my first graphic novel Fluffy before Jonathan Cape picked it up.
It doesn't sound that amazing now but at the time I didn't know anyone that had written a graphic novel before or anyone that was self-publishing. I didn't really know how to do it. It took the encouragement of my mentors and some practical advice to find a way to support myself whilst taking on a big project. It was exciting seeing lots of small miracles whilst navigating unknown territory, things fell into place. Since making this project I've been lucky enough to be able to only work on projects that I really believe in. I'm really grateful for the opportunities that I've had.
Have your objectives and long-term goals changed since winning the Award? If so, how?
We both wanted to make comics much more accessible and during this time it certainly has happened. The comics scene has transformed totally and there is a huge community of artists who are making work and self-publishing in book form and online. Shops now have sections for graphic novels, there are countless conventions for independent comic makers and art colleges have fully embraced the medium.
Although I have moved away from self-publishing what was important then and still is was to make work that was real, authentic and revealed what it is to be human. I believe now, possibly more so than then, that art has the ability to uplift and edify people minds and souls and to promote goodness in the culture. It's a high aim but the ideal is to contribute something good into the culture.