I previously worked as an Exercise Referral Instructor and Personal Trainer at a university, before taking voluntary redundancy in fear of the future changes within that employment as a consequence of COVID 19. In all honesty if it wasn’t for the pandemic I would still be very happily employed by the university and enjoying my work there. As they say, it's strange how things happen! Physical activity, health and nutrition were pretty much my thing, albeit my highest school grade was in art!
Anyhow, in the first lockdown I began to draw. It was purely a pastime, but I would persistently nag Aviv for ideas on what to draw. She wasn’t much help, so I drew her! I was craving a purpose and I found it difficult to draw anything knowing that the result would probably be a pile of doodles destined for the bin. It was then when I thought about drawing Harvey, the family dog that had recently passed away. This would have purpose; I could draw him, scan the artwork, and make copies for my family! I uploaded the drawing to my personal Instagram account and Instagram friends left kind remarks. I didn't think too much of it until a message popped up requesting a commission. I said yes, and this is 'ow it all started'. I uploaded the first commission, and more requests followed. It was still a hobby mind; not once did I think of it as anything other than a fun way to make a bit of spending money.
You might notice that the Harvey illustration is a line drawing, somewhat different to most of my current work. To be honest, at that time I had very little knowledge of the software and equipment that Aviv would eventually introduce me to.
Side note - You'll notice that I mention Aviv throughout, and that I only have nice things to say about her. She's proof reading, that's why! Joking aside, and for the record, Aviv is my partner and works full time with me at the business.
As the pandemic continued and its consequences prevailed I realised that I might not find new employment following my redundancy as quickly as I had hoped. However, eventually I was successful with an application for the position of Duty Manager at a sports facility. To be honest, the work didn’t require the same attention to detail as my previous role at the university and although I was grateful to find employment in such unprecedented times, I was dissatisfied. I may have moaned to Aviv more than once along the lines of 'if only I could make a living wage from art', but sure as day, never did I believe it would happen.
I wasn't really juggling two jobs at this time; I only had around two or three commissions each week, and while I celebrated every order with a fist pump, I was looking for a new health and fitness job. However, being well into the pandemic at this point and with its effects on job availability in my original line of work, prospects were poor, and I came to terms with my situation at that time.
Aviv saw potential in my art and believed growth a possibility. She was quite persistent, encouraging me to create social media accounts, build something a little more substantial, something that could be more successful. While I still imagined the ideal of making a living from my art, I was somewhat reluctant regarding turning my hobby into a serious business. Would this take the fun out of drawing? What about the demands and pressures of running a business?
For want of a better phrase I was ‘only doing half a job’ regarding progressing my art and continued to dismiss the idea of turning it in to a business, but I did open social media accounts.
People then began sharing my artwork, and whether I liked it or not, I had now committed to taking things a bit more seriously, so I built a website using Shopify, and orders increased. I was still a full time Duty Manager so time spent on LukeHorton Art had to be outside of this commitment. But looking back, this was the time when I finally endeavoured to progress my art.
As I write today I am not describing a path to riches! But with growing interest in my art I feel very lucky to be able to report enough success to see LukeHorton Art my full time commitment! Aviv and myself are loving working hard to maintain and develop the initiative, and we enjoy every minute!
Thank you Aviv....and Harvey!
*Ta for reading*