I don’t live in Keynsham, but I am working here. I am a member of the Keynsham Art Group which organises pop-up shops and various exhibitions and projects in Keynsham. I’m working at the Christmas shop at the moment. It is in a different venue from the one we did last year. Last year it was at ground level near the council offices and the old fire station, and lots of people saw it as they walked past. This year it is above the Canteen café opposite, and there are fewer people coming in and it has been harder to get the footfall in. However unlike trying to sell art work in a gallery, where they would take about 50% commission, having our own pop up shop with low costs means that the artists pay less commission or fees to be included, therefore passing cheaper prices onto customers.
I trained as an artist and art teacher in Newcastle and Birmingham, and lived in Coventry before moving to South Bristol. I loved Bristol instantly. It’s an amazing city. I taught art in secondary schools in Coventry, Bath and Bristol for almost 20 yrs going back part part-time after I had my children. I took voluntary redundancy last year to work on my art full time. It’s an exciting time and I am embracing my mid life crisis. I inherited some money and paid off a chunk of my mortgage, which, together with my redundancy has given me the financial security to work at my art and see if I can build a business.
The business part of being an artist is not straightforward. I am doing my first every tax-return at the moment. Apparently, I managed to enter in the online system that I had exceeded the VAT threshold! I most definitely haven’t earned over £85,000 this year. I’m not sure what I had done. There is a reason people pay accountants!
I am a member of Clifton Art Club and Tribeaisthetica in Bristol as well as the Keynsham one. It gives me lots of resources and connections for my new business. I am just trying to be involved in as many different things as possible, including taking part and winning a heat of Art Battle Bristol, doing art markets, entering competitions and exhibitions and taking on commissions.
Doing Art Battle was pretty scary but really good. A group of artists walk into a room, are given materials and a canvass, and have twenty minutes to produce an artwork. As I won I got invited back to be a feature artist at the next event and produce a longer piece. All work is auctioned off during the event. I now look forward to the National finals with the Manchester winners coming up next year.
This first few years is about myself growing a profile and building up my portfolio. My work is developing and I feel its all about getting it out there and getting it seen. The big thing is though I am enjoying it.