The Spring Festival will help people to delve in to our collections in a new way, to excite, challenge and inspire the talented creative practitioners working in the UK today. We want people to have fun, play with the collections, discover uncharted territory, find help to develop existing work in practical ways and maybe stumble across their next big idea!

~Frances Taylor, Marketing Manager, Creative Industries, British Library

Last week, the British Library launched its inaugural Spring Festival, a four-day celebration of artists and makers from the UK’s creative industries.  The festival was held over a long weekend, from March 1-5, and featured a dazzling array of artwork, both physical and digital, networking and selling opportunities for artists, and curated exhibitions of the British Library’s vast resources, plus ideas for how artists can use those resources for inspiration for their own contemporary work.

British Library – Spring Market from Buzz Films on Vimeo.

The festival kicked off with the Spring Market held on the Library’s busy St. Pancras piazza, where UK designers came together in a creative collective to sell their work– everything from handmade jewelry to baking mixes.  The Make it, Sell it! event offered the chance for artists to network, and to learn practical skills like how to market product lines, manage intellectual property, and navigate the production process from successful industry sweethearts like Emma Bridgewater.

British Library – Make It, Sell It from Buzz Films on Vimeo.

The festival also featured talks, events, performances, and workshops run by acclaimed artists like Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett and much loved illustrator, Quentin Blake, who were part of a panel discussion on the Art of Illustration, where they talked about their favorite illustrations from different genres, cultures and styles.

British Library – LATE event with Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz) from Buzz Films on Vimeo.

The British Library’s curators also headed up events throughout the festival by drawing on the library’s rich collection, including an exhibition of patterns and textures aimed at textile artists, and a skill-share knitting workshop that highlighted vintage patterns from the library’s collection including 1930s hair accessories and woollen hot pants from the 70s.

British Library – Vintage Knitting from Buzz Films on Vimeo.

In addition to guiding artists through the Library’s collections, Librarians also highlighted the Library’s Business & IP Centre , which offers free business advice and practical resources  that can give artists and makers a boost as they monetize their craft.   Since it opened in 2006, the Centre has helped 250,000 businesses and entrepreneurs develop, protect and market their ideas, including Lucy Tammam, whose ethical wedding dress designs have made a splash internationally.

Want more? Feast your eyes on the gallery of images from the Spring Festival’s guest artists and the British Library’s monumental collections:

What does your library do to support and promote the arts in your area?  Have you ever shown work at a library sponsored event?  Have you gone to a library for business information to launch your own brand, store, or craft-based line?  Any librarians out there doing booktalks and resource exhibitions for artist groups?

We’d love to hear from you!  Tell us about your library / work in the comments, chat us up on Twitter or Facebook, or e-mail us directly at libraryasincubatorproject@gmail.com.

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