Skip to main content

An Independent Christmas..... Kinda!

So this year I made a decision to try and get as many Christmas presents from independent shops as I possibly could. The main reason behind this is the fact that not only are the independent shop's struggling but even the once strong high street is struggling, especially with Aberdonians flocking to the new shopping mecca of Union Square when once they would have walked Union Street, Belmont Street and even the 3 other shopping centers who must all be feeling the strain of the new super center. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against the big shops, I understand that if stores like HMV were to shut then the knock on effect is a lot of people looking for new jobs and the Amazon effect continues. But if these mega companies are struggling then what about the small guys, the One Up's, the Junction Arts, The Artists Pads? Shop's which have been servicing consumers and creative communities for years but have been dropped like a deadweight for the sake of saving a few pounds on Amazon and they deliver to your front door! But your losing out on the chance to discover something new that you haven't been looking for, that tune you've never heard before, that artists who's work you meant to check out but forgot about or the simple experience of speaking to another person while you make a purchase!

These are a few reasons why I chose to shop the way I did and the chance to talk to people was a real pleasure and extended beyond the people in the shops but also contacting artist's directly like Laura Gee, cutting out any middle men. So here's a breakdown of how my Christmas shopping panned out, which shop's I visited and the people that I spoke too!  

So my shopping really started at the Tea Cosy Craft Fair. Tea Cosy is the perfect opportunity to not only pick up original and hand made gifts but also a chance to meet the people behind them. I was looking forward to seeing Kirsty aka A Wooden Tree whose Stag Heads and jumper mountains give me eye boners every year! I actually bought another jumper mountain for myself but balanced that by getting some of her tea towels as gifts for others. Having a mini mountain range on my mantle piece is pretty cool though!


Next I paid a visit to Conan's stand where I picked up a set of his amazing Lochnagar coasters. I'd seen these online already and knew my dad would probably quite like them as he used to be a mountain climber and keen hill walker. Finely crafted, inlaid with brass and pretty unique, he loved them. And for the price I doubt I'd have been able for find something as nice and unique on the high street.


Junction Arts had a stall set up and I purchased a selection of cards for friends and family. Each card had a unique design which I thought would go down well with mum & dad and my good friend Verona. And they did! But due to the slightly overwhelming amount of stall's at Tea Cosy I decided it best to pop into Junction Arts proper to see the full range. I had my eye on a Small Stories tea towel monster they have sewn up but he wasn't for sale, I did manage to get one of the tea towels though, maybe Verona will cut him out and sew him up for herself, I hope she does! And while browsing I spotted the rather beautiful hand crafted Christmas decorations also made by Small Stories, perfect for my mum's Christmas tree! The Snail and Fox cushions were pretty tempting as well but just out of my Christmas budget, I must remember to find out who they were made by next time I'm in!



The Art School's pop up shop Offset57 also provided another avenue for picking up some local made good's including a storm cloud lightning bolt necklace for a friend and a WLD WLVS t shirt for my brother. I also picked up a set of Siobhan Ogg's Christmas cards, I never seem to get enough cards for people and still missed out a few close friends this year, ill make a list and do my maths properly for next year! Offset was good as it brought together a good mixture of designer's and makers, some of whom are just starting out and others who are a bit more established and they hosted some cool events like Fred Deakin's guest talk.



I often like to pop into Retrospect to see Jim and to peruse his fine selection of vintage threads. But I always forget that he stocks a nice selection of vintage tea sets. And girls like tea sets! So that's another unique gift in the bag and I had a nice catch up with Jim too. I often think Retrospect is a little forgotten treasure being tucked away behind John Lewis but should be a regular destination for all!

 
My adventure took me up to Rosemount to see Amy at Cloudy Blue, a cool boutique shop based in Rosemount. Every time I pop in I find a load of cool things I want to buy and it only took me 30 seconds to find these beautiful Rob Ryan mugs, perfect for my recently engaged friends! Cloudy Blue is also perfect if your shopping for younger people as they stock a selection of retro packaged children's toys and gift set's. They also keep an impressive card selection so must remember next time I need a birthday card for someone!


I'd seen Laura Gee's work on a few design blogs and her Bearded Malcolm cushion stuck in my head.Her illustration style stood out from all the slightly twee work I've seen lately and I knew I wanted to get something from her and as I wasn't going to be spending Christmas with my girlfriend I figured giving her a bearded Malcolm to open would be a fitting substitute. And he was, he even got a place at the dinner table! Her prints are also worth checking out, I especially like the Polar Bears one. Laura was really nice when I emailed her about beardy and we had a nice chat about her work, one to keep an eye on I think!

 
Another artist I wanted to support was Jon Burgerman. Although he's well established Jon is still an independent artist and has worked pretty hard to get to the position he is in. Also when I met him in the summer he was incredibly nice and was kind enough to do me a small doodle. Also knowing my friends and their love of cats, it was quite easy to find an amazing print that was also really affordable. I was tempted by the mug and teapot set as well but that would have been another gift for me! Anyway my friends really like it and promised if they start a family it will be taking pride of place in the little one's room, how cool is that!



So that's the break down of the shops and artists I bought from but of course I didn't manage to buy entirely from independent shops. But I never expected to get everything from local or independent shops, sometimes you need to check out HMV for that box set your after or Debenhams for a nice perfume set but I think its about getting that balance between the two. I managed to get 10 wonderful and original gifts for friends and family which made up 67% of my Christmas spend compared with the 7 high street gifts which were more expensive and made up the remaining 33%.

Also I didn't even manage to make it round all the shops I wanted too, Peltoniemi Concept Store missed out as did local skate shops Boarderline and Granite Reef and One Up Records who I normaly buy gift vouchers from also missed out. But, I will be popping into Peltoniemi to pick up some new Penguin English Library classics to add to my collection, ill be getting some new t shirts and jumpers from Boarderline and Granite and my first stop come pay day is usually One Up to pick out some new vinyl selections so although I didn't support them over Christmas doesn't mean I can't support them after Christmas. And it means buying gift's for myself, which is never a chore!

So all in all, when every one was stressing out about getting gifts and how busy the shops were I actually managed to have fun. I really enjoyed visiting the shops and chatting with the owners and the artists whom I bought from. And its proved to me that you can support local shops & big chains and give people gifts that they will remember for a life time! And to be fair, the best gift's I recieved this year were almost all hand made, watch this space for "Come Dine with Jonty", coming to a channel near you!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Popular posts from this blog

Painted Doors 2017 - Year 2 Recap!

It's been a busy old year and I for one cannot wait for the christmas break. I'm lucky to be off til the new year and I'm hoping it'll be a chance to catch up and take stock. Its certainly been another busy year for art and culture in Aberdeen and especially putting art into the public realm. Nuart Aberdeen, Look Again Festival and Painted Doors both provided lots of incredible opportunities, and the artworks were nae bad as well. But with famous street artists and international design stars on the programme, what makes Painted Doors special?

Firstly all the artists are from or are based in Aberdeen. And many of them are new faces to me which is a good sign that we have a healthy creative scene in the city. I pride myself on getting out and meeting artists and creatives and spend a lot of time trying to help promote and shine a light on their work but even in the big village of Aberdeen where everyone knows everyone its fantastic to come across new faces. The artists fo…

NUART Aberdeen - Part 1, Production Week!

By now the sight of a giant yellow cherry picker at the Indoor Market is a common sight with hundreds of photos appearing across Instagram and Facebook. NUART Aberdeen kicked off last week with the arrival of our first artist Martin Whatson. I had the pleasure of seeing Martin at work up a cherry picker in Stavanger for NUART 2014, a sight that definitely makes you stop and stare. Having initially met team NUART on their first few visits to Aberdeen I'd offered to help in any way I could and was given the role of artist host. I would be meeting them at the hotel, showing them around and hopefully giving them a little insight into our fair city.

So on a sunny Wednesday we headed to airport to meet the infamous Martin Whatson. Being the first to arrive I was a little unsure what to expect, after all I've been a huge fan of street art for 10+ years and to be honest the whole concept of NUART in Aberdeen has been blowing my mind for months. So when this tall blonde Norwegian appear…

Painted Doors Aberdeen Project Recap!

With spring upon us new artists will be added to the painted doors line up and well have a fine selection of large scale walls by the NUART Aberdeen which is kicking off tomorrow with a host of international talents. I wanted to share all of the completed doors to date and shine a bit more light on the door artists, collating them all before part 2 kicks off. Already the doors have had a big impact on local business and the people who frequent them such as Contour Café and Cafe52 on the Green. With a clear view of Katie Guthrie and Cosmic Nuggets doors, Contour is the perfect spot to get some lunch and a perfect view.
With the doors stretching from just off the Green to the far end of Langstane Place you can have yourself a nice little walk along the back streets, avoiding the bustle of Union Street. Its a nice way to connect up some Aberdeen's more overlooked areas and really conveys for me what art can do, in making us look at our surroundings a little differently and seeing the …

'Darkness Can't Exist In The Light' by Jo Muir at The Anatomy Rooms!

If you've been in town recently then you'll certainly have seen the banners and posters proclaiming "Art is the new Oil" although I think its less a proclamation as it is a question. The poster is part of a campaign by Citymoves Dance Agency to promote their 3 week festival of dance which finished a few weeks back. Now partner organisation with The Anatomy Rooms (Citymoves have taken on the large open plan dissection rooms) they aim to bring contemporary dance to the forefront of Aberdeens cultural offering. I'm sad to say I couldn't make it the various events but did get a look at Jo Muir's exhibition, organised to coincide with the festival.

Jo is one of the numerous artists based in the Anatomy Rooms studios and has spent the last 12 months hiding from day light and working out her ideas. She was finally ready to present a new body of work which seemed like a perfect fit with Dance Live and so over the course of 3 weekends the show was open to the publi…

'Markings' by Jo Mcintosh at Parx Cafe!

'Markings' is the current show on display at Parx Cafe in Aberdeen's West End. Located just off Rubislaw Terrace. 'Markings' showcases the work of print maker and book maker Jo Mcintosh and features a lovely selection of work from editioned screen prints to hand stiched accordion style paper books. Although Aberdeen isn't short of galleries it's quite nice to be able to grab something fine for lunch while checking out what's on the walls. Its probably one of the things I miss the most about the EARL of Sandwich, that and the fact they gave me a panini tab!

Parx Cafe has been a regular spot to check out new artists and its refreshing to find an artist like Jo who's got an extensive background in the arts and I'm only just discovering her work now. From her degree in fashion design to running creative workshops and now in her current capacity as a lecturer, Jo has certainly been carving out a unique style and approach to her art. Although her work …