Art as a way of survival

My love of sketching and mark making started from a young age - I was prolific as a young art student and graduate.  Sketching and observation was, and remains, a passion and a natural process of expression. The catalyst for my growth can be directly pinpointed to my teacher as a teenager. Had I not had the encouragement and drive to succeed at a young age I would not be writing this today. I studied at Art School in the UK and took the path towards graphical/illustrative design and after this continued my studies and took a BA (Hons) at Portsmouth, in Art, Design and Media on the Illustration pathway. My early career was more design and communication based however my fine art aspirations never left me.

The world has shifted since Covid-19 and our industries and institutions have collapsed and died. Art has predictably taken on a new form in its survival. The digital format has risen, the online exhibition has matured, and a new wave of artists have appeared. Art will survive anything and will always be relevant either in retrospect or in the present.

This past 18 months has been huge for me personally with award wins with ‘The Holy Art’ showATOPOS’, digital exhibitions and international sales across the USA, Middle East and across Europe, born through the rise in demand for original work that doesn’t fall victim of smartphone photography, which rarely makes its way to printed form on a wall. With galleries closed, the platforms of Facebook and Instagram have offered a lifeline for artists to reach new audiences and it’s here I’ve seen exceptional growth and opportunity. The opportunity to follow and engage with true legends of the art world is only a click away – and yes, on the whole, they respond back!

As an urban landscape artist my work is inspired by the cities and towns we live in. An avid urban sketcher, my dedication to sketching on location and remaining true to the cause has been tested through various lockdowns. I have reflected heavily on my sketchbook and adapted many of these pieces into larger more artful creations on canvas that forge visual reference and my imagination. My latest work has begun to explore more abstracted views and techniques that are somewhat out of my comfort zone but as an artist I feel you must constantly be questioning and challenging yourself and treading just ever so slightly out of your depth to make real and pivotal progress.

I’m looking forward to future physical events and planned workshops in the UK and Europe happening without further disruption and excited to see where my own development takes me.

My BBC radio Urban Sketching interview

Sometimes it’s hard to be inspired to write about myself. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. My writing skills are not most polished asset. I’m also my worst critic and I feel a good chunk of my overactive imposter syndrome would probably be better offloaded to a good amount of politicians.

HOWEVER!… (insert suitable shocked emoji after I’ve managed to finish this blog piece, as a reward)

I recently had email from the BBC asking if I’d be able to have a live on-air interview about a my urban sketching and social media marketing. I already knew I’d have something blog-worthy. 

Having had a BBC researcher scan some of my social profiles I was bowled over to get the invite. A cold and wet evening I made my way to BBC Somerset and had around 20 minutes with Charlie Taylor. We talked at length about how I’d begun to concentrate sketching around the local area and selling my artwork online.

Are you an Artist?

Finding my art again.

What’s happened? 20 years after graduating in art and design and working as a graphic designer and more recently a digital marketing / brand manager, I’ve rekindled my artistic side. I bought some watercolours, got deeply inspired and suddenly had a moment of realisation. 

I’ve always lived with a certain approval requirement to claim a status. How arrogant to declare myself an artist? I grew up studying Constable, Dali, Mondrian, Escher, Scarfe, Bacon to name a few. They are artists. 

“Are you an artist?”

“Me?, no, I just paint for fun”.

“Would you consider selling your art?, I’d like to buy a piece”

“Err, yes, that’d be amazing”

“So you are an artist”

“Maybe, a little bit.”

My inspiration actually started last October 2018. The Inktober challenge to be exact. A 1 inch square piece posted everyday along with thousands around the world. I loved the concept. The biggest shift for me was the sudden way I felt I had found my ‘style’. The element every student craves which develops for some in 3 years has taken me 20. 

Building the website and aligning digital marketing around the theme was the easy(ier) bit. When it’s your own money you’re ever so more prudent in analytical analysis. 

I’ve had more views of my art from Texas than London!

Freelance experience earlier in my career seems a mile away from the challenges and opportunities available now with social communication so vast. It’s a strange feeling watching and reading discussions around my artwork from people I’ve never met, seeing it displayed on other websites that I’ve never visited. It’s amazing!

I’ve picked up a range of commissions and been asked to exhibit at a gallery in Norfolk!

This might all seem very ‘entry level’ in such an accepted world of sharing, reposting, commenting and screenshotting (is that a word now?), however when’s it’s your art, it’s much more personal. 

Thanks for the support.

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