I’ve always had a great interest in art – my own drawings, paintings, and mark making as well as visiting exhibitions – and always knew I would have a creative career. I chose the design route as I knew it was a discipline that would give me a good long-term career. I had a fantastic and very creative art education studying for my BA in Graphic design at Central St Martins and subsequently the graphic designs I produced reflected this creativity. Having my own design studio did mean greater control over the creativity of the work we produced, but ultimately, I wanted more freedom of expression in my creative work without the boundaries and rules set by clients. The wish to keep painting had never left me, but the studio was so busy and time consuming, there was never much time to make my own art. So, I carved out some time and joined a weekly art class around 5 years ago, where I had the opportunity to paint again and learn some new skills, whilst still working in the design studio. Finally, I stepped aside from the studio two years ago, made a studio space within my home, and began making art full time.
As I’ve never had a formal ‘fine art education’, a lot of my practice at first was trial and error, which has presented challenges. As a digital designer working on a computer, mistakes are incredibly easy to rectify, a file can be saved many times and the ‘back’ and ‘save-as’ buttons are your best friends. It’s not like that when I paint. If I make a mistake on the canvas I have to wait for the paint to dry (which takes time when you paint in oils) and redo whole layers. So, I found the process initially very time consuming and often frustrating.
Also in the design world, much of the studio work we do is collaborative, with other designers to bounce ideas off and brainstorm with. And as I was a designer for so many years, I mentored younger designers and worked regularly with design students. Now I was in the position of being on my own in my art studio with no-one to share ideas with, and that took some getting used to. I didn’t have a network of other artists that I could ask questions to or get advice from, and I found that quite isolating at first. That soon changed though. Instagram has been great for chatting to other artists, as well as going to open studios, meeting local artists and building up a new community.