I bought a small A5 sketchbook and a set of fineliners on a day trip to London. This was my chance to try sketching and keeping a record of my drawings as an attempt to switch off from work and give me some headspace as my friend Lucie G had shown me she had done.
Pens – to reduce a need to try and make perfect pieces and the rubbing out that pencil would allow. I started to carry my sketchbook (s) with me everywhere.
I would draw in free moments at home, at work and when out and about.
Later hat year I would discover Winsor and Newton ProMarkers or Letraset as they were just transitioning from and a chance to draw in coloured markers too.
Urban sketching in London, Cambridge and Colchester
Lucie G had been out urban sketching in Manchester and I followed her lead in going out on day meets with the London, Cambridge and Essex groups. I met a wide variety of people enjoying their art from professionals to amateurs to beginners. I started carrying larger pads with me and would sit or stand and draw around the cities near me. I was still carrying the sketchbooks and drew most days. My motto became “if it doesn’t move, sketch it”.
I shared my drawings at these meets with others and received feedback. Before leaving work in Havering, London I had started to share my drawings with pupils and especially my form class. This led to my IKEA drawing roll leaving card that extended to over 10 metres which was very touching at a very difficult time for my mental health.
Geography teacher to selling art?
My life was falling apart. I had moved the family to Purbeck, Dorset but within weeks of them arriving my mental health and whole career imploded leaving to me leaving teaching.
The drawing became a vital part of being introspective and a release mechanism. In a moment of madness I thought, ‘would my art sell?’ And googled if there was an ‘AndyKnillArt’ anywhere online – nope so I grabbed it. But it was too soon to actually start with this as I had a breakdown in November as I left work.
Spring / Summer 2017
Artist as a label
I went for it, I don’t know where the confidence or bravery came from but I stuck my neck out and approached Swanage Tourist Information Centre with my ‘Swanage Beach huts, Dorset’ piece – they took me up and ordered cards and asked me to design more pieces.
I immediately hit the commission obstacles of differing client / artist interpretation of a brief but came through it and now had my first sales of around £300.
I posted my pieces online and AndyKnillArt had started. I was reluctant to call myself as an artist as I didn’t feel I qualified for that label yet. The first print sold to teaching friends in Qatar – an international artist?
2017 started my development around bouts of self doubt. I took part in MAKS craft fairs at the catholic hall in Swanage, the sitting and chatting amongst ourselves while little sold.
In May I took part in Purbeck Art Weeks for the first time with 8 pieces to my name and I drew original greetings cards and other works during the fortnight displaying as an Open Studio.
I loved the interaction with people who liked and bought my art.
Autumn 2017 / Spring 2018
Purbeck Artisan Yard and Artisans on the Beach
Two new steps that brought my work to a wider audience. I exhibited as a gust artist at PAY – in six weeks I sold one card – not a location for me then.
Artisans on the Beach – I attacked with Andy gusto and hyperactivity. I drew sat outside my beach hut in December. I wore my blue cloud suit and penguin onesie – I was starting to be able to use my extrovert moments to be noticed and get people to see my growing portfolio.
Spring 2018 Anne and I revisited PAY as new artists were joining and I came away with a bay to use year round to display my work.
My art year now had a permanent base, PAW in May/June and Artisans on the Beach in the winter. I was producing much more art as the differences between Open studio 2017 and 2018 showed.
A shop – are you sure?
November 2019 and Lucy Tidbury’s shop unit opposite Java became available. Without enough pre thought beyond – retail unit opposite Java I jumped in feet first into a joint business venture – 2 very different sole traders and personalities into having their art in a retail unit far quicker than our sales and following would justify for Jo Porter and myself.
Three months in and things started to unravel. But then March 2020 and lockdown one for covid. 2020 was an intriguing year really. PAW became an online auction only. The shop reopened in June then closed again in November for the second lockdown. On reflection this didn’t help but he differences between the two of us in the shop started to be glaringly obvious but without a breakout clause we clung on.
2021 a third lockdown. We emerged into April and soon my hackles rose because of the differences in approach and reluctance to communicate. In May I stopped selling Jo’s work on my days unless we could discuss the issue – two months to reply to a letter showed the death knell was sounding but how to move things on.
July 2021 and onwards
Goodbye to The Courtyard Studio and onwards
After offering what I could see as the four options going forwards with the shop communication is the key sticking factor. I am a heart on the sleeve person, Jo isn’t. I knew we couldn’t keep working together so in the final week of July I realised that the only way to move forwards was for me to leave the shop.
I have emailed the landlords and Jo. My plan going forwards – to find a u it I can afford to run as a sole artist space – to focus on drawing my art, to share my love for art as a fun activity through ‘art for fun’ sessions and to continue to sell my work. If I couldn’t find anywhere immediately I would go without a shop for a while, but this was worrying to myself and Anne as I get so much out of the interaction with people in the shop scenario.
On Friday 30 July, the same week as my decision we visited a unit that fits my criteria perfectly. Less through traffic of passers by but still in ‘The Heart of Swanage’ and a chance to continue my ‘Dog friendly shops’ and ‘The Heart of Swanage’ campaigns. Dates are to be confirmed but I am hoping to at least have my art and I in the new unit for Purbeck Art Weeks 2021 from September 11 to 26. I will still be transitioning from The Courtyard Studio subject to negotiations with the landlords.
A shop of my own and still before the fifth anniversary of AndyKnillArt starting at the end of January 2017. My art has far exceeded any hopes that I had back when I started.
The starting point was – will my art sell?
Then my target developed to – sell some art, each year. The bills for rent have increased but the business continues to develop.
I will call the new unit – ‘AndyKnillArt Studio’ following what I call the ‘Ronseal’ naming convention as their slogan ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’.
Onwards, and I look forward to welcoming you all to my new adventure and chapter seven.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-123416164-5993-614fc9e7c39b1' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=123416164&post_id=5993&origin=andyknillart.com&obj_id=123416164-5993-614fc9e7c39b1' data-name='like-post-frame-123416164-5993-614fc9e7c39b1' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>