dicky smiles – print your own…
Dicky Smiles is the creation of Arron Miles, a good caricature to his alter ego Anti-Christ Mallard. These illustrations come from Arron’s head and tend to be things he enjoys, thinks look good and has fun creating. Since the summer of 2023, you’ve been able to visit his hut at Folkestone Marketplace on the Harbour and buy his t-shirts, hoodies, trackies etc, or even print your own. In his other life he’s a furniture restorer, so the creativity is strong in this one. Folkelife wanted to know what it’s like trading on the Folkestone Harbour Marketplace.
“I’ve realised I work much better when I can meet the people who buy my clothing. I much prefer the face-to-face transaction. What’s interesting is that I’ve got quite a following of children wanting to create their own clothing. I give them the transfers and they decide where they’re going to go. My hot-press is in the back of the hut, and I can print them there and then. I guess the interesting thing is that children are really keen to have a go and don’t mind if it’s ‘not quite right’. You do see the adults trying to persuade their kids to put different transfers on, or in different places, but no, the kids know what they’re doing!
“Adults seem happier to take something that I’ve already created; a printed hoodie off the shelf as it were. Not sure what’s happening between childhood and adulthood that makes us scared of having a go, and maybe getting something wrong, but we seem to want safety rather than creativity.”
organic and sustainable
“I wanted a product that was as sustainable as I could make it. The garments are all organic cotton, and there are thicker ones for the winter. I also want them to have traveled the least amount of distance so I look for British, or at least European, suppliers where I can. It’s good to know, and to be realistic, that if people are going to throw away my garments once they’re done, they’re not going to be an issue in landfill.”
folkestone born and bred
“Well, not actually born in Folkestone, but have lived here all my life. I used to be with my mum in the flats opposite the Rotunda before that left. The Harbour Arm was derelict at that point and it was a secretive place to play. We’d know how to get in and it was a cool place to be without the adults. Now it’s been a place where I’ve started to meet customers and others who can help me build what is a passion project. It’s starting to get to the place where it’s challenging my ‘other’ job.
“I work as a furniture restorer in Ashford. One of my first jobs was in a garden centre and I hated it. I was never allowed near the plants but just had to man the tills and the ceramic ornaments. Looking through the phone book I found this man’s number and asked if I could come and work for him. Once I’d learned how to do a few helpful things, I was able to be paid for restoring the furniture. Now we have a new apprentice and I’m there creating beautiful furniture out of bits of old things that don’t have a life anymore.”
“Having gone through life from a kid watching cartoons via a few rubbish jobs, to now having two creative jobs. I can use my brain and my heart in creating what I do. They’ve joined forces in creating this anarchist outlet for me. I’d got to the point where just selling online I was disheartened by what I was doing. You don’t get many sales online, and I don’t want to spend my time doing all the marketing and socials; I want to create.
“But being here at the Marketplace I know I have a good product, and people like my creations, and my conviction in myself has grown. My hut here is responsible for me meeting friends from school who can help in some ways, and other connections have grown from being here to help me take on the world. “
“I’ll be launching my website in 2024 which will be fun. I do seem to make life hard for myself, and instead of just creating a product shop website, my son and I have creating a game within it. You’ll be able to press on items and things will happen. There are secret channels to follow if you read the bits you normally ignore and realise they look a bit odd… It’s not just shopping. I love the idea that you’re on a website and things you shouldn’t normally be able to click do things that take you on a little journey.
“The game is called ‘Namaste the hell away from me’ and it’s Anti-Christ Mallard meditating on some ancient pentagram in space with babies and kittens being bombarded at her. I wondered what would be the most annoying thing for a duck to be bombarded with, and I decided on screaming babies and kittens. It’s all family fun!”