What do you do for a living?

Freelance fine artist 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I wanted to do art when I was 14/15, my teacher thought i had a 'flair' for art, but my Dad told me I should do "sensible" subjects. So I didn’t do art, I took history (which I hated and failed).  So I think its worth taking subjects you love the most - you’ll want to work harder at them.  I didn’t have any career’s advice at all.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)

I studied up to A levels at high school and I ended up studying banking at Bangor university, North Wales.  I then went on to be a economics researcher for 10 years.  It wasn’t what I really wanted to do so when I was 30yrs old I decided I would try art.  

I went to several evening classes at Edinburgh College of Art, and there I got advice about how to get into Art College. I spent a year at Leith School of Art doing a foundation in Art and Design, and getting a portfolio together to apply to Art College.  I got into Edinburgh College of Art and studied Drawing and Painting for 4 years.  It was there that I found out I was dyslexic and got a lot of help with the writing side of things.  After gaining my BA(Hons) Drawing and Painting, I gained a scholarship to do a Masters in Fine Art at ECA. Since then I have worked as a freelance fine artist doing a variety of things - including working with school groups, working with community groups, selling my paintings in galleries, producing commissions, and having a residency in a beach hut!!

Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?

My job is extremely varied and does not have a typical day.  However it could include any of the following:

I have to spend time researching galleries to work out who might want to sell my work, and visit galleries ot check them out.  

I spend a lot of time watching my subject, drawing and making notes.  

I prepare canvas’ or make frames. 

I apply for grants/residencies to help fund some of my work.  

I spend time preparing for workshops in schools.

I spend time taking photos of my work and sending them off to galleries or competitions.

I spend time in the school working with the teachers, parents, children.

I do some printmaking sometimes.

I make handmade books.

I cut out lots of bits of paper for books.

I sharpen pencils, clean brushes, wash rags.

But my favourite bit is when I get to do painting.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

To work in London in a bank and earn lots of money.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Exactly that.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Find an artist and speak to them.  Spend  ALOT of time drawing and doing art.  Find opportunities to volunteer at crafty/arty events.  Visit arty events - go to fashion shows, art galleries, ceramics exhibitions. 

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I could train to be a teacher. Many people from my course have ended up as art teachers.  Some are curators at galleries.  Some run community art projects. Some work in art college.  Some have taken Masters in other areas of art - some are in IT, some in museums.