56 Stamp to success Mark Alexander, Creative Director of Visible Image talks to Craft Focus about his successful stamp and stencil business that will be celebrating 20 years, next year! Tell us a little bit about the company. Where are you based? When did the company start? Visible Image was founded in 2004 and we’re now based in Bridgend, South Wales. It’s now 19 years since I made my very first clear photopolymer stamp! We love designing exciting and different stamps, stencils and dies that’ll inspire people to create amazing things. Who founded the company and why? I founded the company after being made redundant, and I grabbed the opportunity of a new career which involved my love of art and drawing. How has the company evolved? What’s new? In 2013, my wife Helen joined the company on a full-time basis and took over many of the day-to-day tasks allowing me more time to design and create. In 2016, we outsourced our stamp manufacturing to Photocentric, the leading clear stamp manufacturer here in the UK, as I could no longer keep up with demand. We introduced our own line of stencils and have now also added metal craft dies to our product portfolio, which both complement the stamps brilliantly. Our social media following has really grown over the years and our customer service is outstanding. We have received over 2,000 five-star reviews in the last year! What do you specialise in? What are your ‘bread and butter’ products? Stamps will always be our main product line and anything else we release will complement them. We’re known and loved for designing striking images, for the inky feel to our designs, our inspiring sentiments, and brilliant stencil designs! Talk us through the current products you’re particularly excited about. Do you have a favourite? I’m always excited about every new release and, as I design everything myself, you’ll find so many of our designs work well together. I’m excited to add more layering dies to our range this year as these have been so popular, and I love the texture that they add to a project. Do your products suit all levels of crafters? Our products are great for beginners as our stamp sets include a focal image, sentiments and background elements, so you can create a fantastic and very arty card with just some stamps and ink! They are also perfect for the more experienced crafters who can take our products to the next level using masking, embossing and other techniques to add texture and layers. Craft has boomed over the last year! Have you noticed any new trends? We don’t tend to follow trends, we have our own style and we design what we feel is different yet still useful, and we always put our own spin on things. We do like to follow the seasons as we know many crafters do. How often do you launch new ranges? We’re aiming for bi-monthly releases this year. We’ll be increasing our new stencil designs, and also adding more co-ordinating dies for some of our bestselling stamp designs, to make it easier to cut them out.