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Embracing Local in 2023: Liverpool Neighbourhood Skylines and Markets

At the beginning of 2023 I knew that I had to make some changes to my business.  2022 had been tough, with lots of changes in my life, and I'd taken my eye off the ball a bit. Sales had really slowed down, I was feeling lonely working from home, and I had to do something to rediscover some passion for my business.

I had a good think, and decided to go back to the beginning.  When I first started my business, kind of by accident back in 2009, my first foray into selling to the public had been to try out some local craft fairs and markets.  I’d had a great time, met some lovely people and it had given me a really great platform to start my business.  I’d been doing events most weekends, alongside my day job, and it was a really busy time. I’d started selling online as a result of my market success, and this then took over. I gave up the day job, and I ended up doing less and less markets, the busier I got online. A combination of my online success and a pandemic meant I’d not done an in-person event for around six years.

I had a look around - the landscape had definitely changed - I didn’t really know where to start! I went along to a few local craft fairs to get a feel for what was around and where my products might fit.  I was also acutely aware that my current products at this point were much better suited to an online audience - after all were people in Liverpool likely to want a Chelmsford skyline greetings card, or an Aberdeen skyline art print?

So a plan started to form… I had a couple of local skyline illustrations already - Liverpool, Baltic Triangle and Bold Street - so I thought I could expand on this. I got in touch with the organiser of my favourite of the markets I’d looked at, and got booked in at the Good Market at FACT on 19th March.

Of course, things didn’t run smoothly. I got Covid the week before, so lost valuable days of prep time… and ended up having no help on the day as I’d given my partner Covid too! I got through the day, spoke to some lovely customers, and it was a valuable experience to dip my toe back into markets, but it hadn’t been a roaring success financially.

However, the organiser of the market was running a special Eurovision Market, and I was offered a stall there for two days… by the time this came round in May I had drawn a few more skylines of local Liverpool neighbourhoods - Penny Lane, Sefton Park and Toxteth had joined the collection. I’d also worked on a couple of Eurovision prints, and I was really prepared and excited.

Eurovision Good Market Stall

The event was a huge success, and it really gave me back a huge enthusiasm for my business.  It was great to chat with customers from all over the world, who were visiting Liverpool for Eurovision - and my Eurovision cards and prints went down a storm!  It was also really good to be in full health; and to have help from my partner and stepkids there too. We all really enjoyed soaking up the Eurovision atmosphere, it was such good fun.

So I got booked in for some more in-person events, and started working away at a whole range of new, super-local images.

Woolton came next, followed by Speke, Calderstones Park and Mossley Hill. I’d had a few requests, and I was also drawing the locations that I knew.

The boundaries are naturally a bit blurry - there aren’t any definitive maps showing where the most commonly referred to neighbourhood boundaries lie - so I was, and still am, going mostly on public opinion via my Facebook and Instagram.  There are a few neighbourhoods that span several postcodes, and the wards/constituencies just aren’t places that people really refer to; I’d never say “I live in Church” for example. So there are a few landmarks that are on the border of several areas and appear in more than one skyline… and I’m fine with that!

Crosby came next - and proved super-popular at Good Market XL in October. But the interesting thing was that I was selling the local skylines alongside the national and international ones too - I sold two Tokyo skylines at this event!

Aigburth Skyline Art Print

In the run-up to Christmas I decided to concentrate on filling some gaps on my list. Aigburth (above) was a keenly-awaited addition to the collection, as was Childwall. I then drew Wavertree and finally for 2023, Garston.

At all of my Christmas markets I had a really incredible reaction to the growing range of local skylines, with people enjoying picking out their favourite local landmarks - Steve’s Chippy, Keith’s Wine Bar and the Edinburgh Pub, among others - all being spotted. I sold out of several locations, which was amazing. I’m delighted at everyone’s response, and it’s really given me such a great boost of enthusiasm to continue drawing all these Liverpool neighbourhoods.

I’ve still kept adding national and international locations to the collection throughout the year - and I always will - but I am so pleased to have discovered this new little niche, which I really love!

So, what’s the plan for 2024? I’m hoping to draw some North Liverpool locations, and probably branch out to some Wirral neighbourhoods too. I’d love to hear from you if you have any requests or suggestions; I genuinely do keep a list, and if I get a request for a specific location then it does bump that place up the to-draw list.

And in-person events are here to stay - I’m already booked in for my first market of 2024 too!