Posted on May 12 2021
We love celebrating creativity at Zap! Creatives and supporting everyone that buys from us. That's why we've started our Small Business Feature, where every week we'll have a chat with a small business owner who uses Zap! to help create their products.
Our first instalment is with Neil Hampton, the owner of 14EIGHT - a one man operation based in Bristol!
⭐️ Hey Neil, we love your work, but would love to know more about you! Tell us all there is to know about Neil Hampton and your business, 14EIGHT?
Oh jeez, where to start. At the beginning I guess.
I’ve always had an interest in art and design, growing up I would often be found drawing animals, particularly bats, and copying my favourite comic characters from the latest edition of 2000AD. I had average art grades at school, it wasn’t something I was particularly good at (my mum would tell you different!) but I enjoyed it. I left college with a diploma in media studies and then found myself sitting out a couple of comfortable office jobs that I didn’t enjoy at all. I casually practised, working on t-shirt designs and pin badges during this time but after 17 years of boredom and moaning about my job I eventually took the risk to go full time.
I’ve now been self-employed for around two years, offering a selection of home decor, accessories, t-shirts and commission work. I’m extremely thankful for the support of everyone that has made this possible, especially during the last year.
My artwork is still average and my freehand sucks, digital is my saviour!
⭐️ What is a product you haven’t made yet but would love to sometime in the future?
Pennants, fabric wall hangings, cushion covers and oven mitts. A vinyl toy would be pretty neat too, that may be a little further in the future!
⭐️ If you could have a lifetime supply of any Zap! Product, which would it be and why?
The wooden charms get my vote. They’re very versatile and I could make both pin badges and keyrings out of them. Add some coloured wood stain to the mix and you’ve got a little more variety too. This is going to happen though right!? Don’t tease!
⭐️ What is the biggest curveball you have had to overcome since starting your business?
2020! Pretty fresh into self-employment and then we’re all riding the emotional rollercoaster that is the pandemic. Very real concerns about delivery times, multiple price increases for postage, maintaining stock and wondering if anyone is actually going to buy anything. Wasn’t exactly what I had planned when I packed in the day job but I think there have been a few lessons learnt along the way.
⭐️ What is your biggest motivation?
Fear! The crippling kind that washes over you when you realise if you’re not working the bills are not getting paid!
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sales are not a good motivator, not necessarily because of the money (obviously that’s beneficial), but because it validates your efforts. When you put in hours, days, weeks of work into something and someone responds by paying you for that work it makes you feel good, that it was worthwhile.
⭐️ What is your current favourite Netflix/tv show and what’s your go-to snack for watching?
My favourite show of recent is Dark, was hooked from the first episode. I’m a sucker for mind bending time travel, accompanied with beautiful visuals and an amazing score this really hit the mark. I’d pair this with oven roasted cashews and almonds, coated in whatever spices and hot sauces were hanging around. Has become a bit of an addiction recently.
⭐️ What inspires your illustrations?
I think inspiration seeps in from everything, the horror movies I’m watching, the video games I’m playing, even the coffee I’m drinking. I’m also a fan of occult imagery, simple shapes with hidden meanings, or sometimes no meaning at all, just a good looking symbol!
⭐️ What things are most important to you when running your business?
Communication and customer relationships are crucial with small business. There’s no brand name to hide behind if you’re going to act badly. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, best to have it used it positively.
Affordability is also pretty important to me, trying to price the work so that’s it’s accessible to many can be tricky. I think this is something everyone has to gauge over time and find that sweet spot that works for you and your customers.
⭐️ If you had one superpower what would it be?
Teleportation. Worldwide cuisine in an instant, plus I’d be able to lower my shipping costs!
⭐️ A great answer! What would you like to achieve this year?
Nothing particularity exciting really. Ideally to continue to grow my little business and pay the bills with a little extra to bank. I still feel like I’m pretty fresh so I’m keeping quite grounded. World domination can wait.
⭐️ Finally, where can we purchase your work?
All of my work is available from www.14eight.co.uk.
You can also sign up to my mailing list to keep up to date with the latest releases including some new Zap! additions that are currently in production.
Check our 14EIGHT's Social Channels ⬇️