Way way back in what feels like a million years ago, me and my partner Mitchell came back from a gap year of sorts. I say gap year but it was really a grown-up gap couple of years where we lived and worked in Hong Kong. It was the best thing I have ever done, what was supposed to be a year away to live and experience another culture ended up being quite good for us both career wise. I ended up being the Area Visual Manager for global retailer H&M and Mitchell ended up being a manager of a language school, English Town. However, we missed Irn-Bru, pickled onion monster munch and believe it or not the scottish weather!! so home we traipsed 5 suitcases heavier and countless boxes shipped back and at this point we had ideas but nothing concrete so we floated along for a while settling back in. I had gotten a transfer with H&M and Mitchell was on the job hunt. Life happens, we bought a flat, Mitchell got a job, the business ideas were pie in the sky at this point.
|Me and Mitchell during younger more innocent times in Hong Kong - we are just old and haggard now|
There was a place in Hong Kong called Art Jam which Mitchell visited with his work and it totally inspired me. The idea was that you were jamming but instead of music you were given a paintbrush and blank canvas. I thought the UK needs this, how often have I wanted to do something crafty but don't because I cant be bothered getting all the materials together nor do I have the space to leave it in situ?? But as inspired as I was this was just an idea and it shelved it in the back of my mind.
Then I found a place on a exploration of our lovely countryside called Going Potty in Dunkeld. We were just passing to get lunch and we were to be on our way home before it got dark but this cute little place caught my eye. In the window was the cutest ceramic pumpkins, Santas and Christmas trees all for painting. So of course I had to go in for a look, but a look was all I had. All through lunch I kept thinking about it so Mitchell very kindly said do I want to paint?? did i want to paint??!! damn right i want to paint. so i carefully selected the pumpkin and a Santa mug for Mitchell, which took ALOT of convincing to make him paint it. While sat there, I was thinking, how cool would it be if there was a place where you could do the canvas painting but also combine with the ceramics, so we both went home that night buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm. However, this still wasn't the push I needed, my sensible head was keeping my feet back down to earth.
|Mitchell on our first ever ceramic painting session|
At the same time I was getting restless with work, I was working all hours and resentment was creeping in, don't get me wrong, it was a job I enjoyed and I loved the people I worked with but I kept thinking if I can channel the same energy and enthusiasm into a business of my own I can achieve anything!! At the same time we were introduced to the people who own Smarty Art in Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey and their ceramic cafe was really inspirational, I loved the tiles on the wall to the HUGE selection of ceramics. So with their advice and guidance combined with a bad week at the day job I got the push to pack it all in, and it was SCARY!
|Our friends from Smarty Art - Annike's parents are the lovely owners of this quality establishent|
Where does a person start with a business?? What comes first?? a couple of meetings with a business advisor at Business Gateway and I had a good idea of how to go about getting my business off the ground. My concept of canvas painting was a little airy fairy I must admit and I suspect alot of people didn't "get" our business idea. But hey youth and naiveness ploughed me on and I Heart Art was eventually born.
The I Heart Art today has taken a little detour from the I Heart Art I had originally planned, we have added and taken away but I like it that way. It's organic and means we have survived in that vicious and ruthless business world. It also means that I can respond to the customers and give them what they want. The journey myself and Mitchell have taken to get to this point has been tough, and i mean TOUGH, it has also been a steep learning curve but that journey hasn't finished yet nor has that learning curve but I would not change it for the world!!!
So this is how I Heart Art came to be for those curious beings who always ask me "what made me do it" and I leave you with some photies of our lovely studio.
|Our first art exhibition at the studio - alot wrinklier this time with bad eyesight!|
|A busy studio full of hens|
|Our hand-painted Logo|
|The studio decor was a bit vintage meets scandinavian meets industrial|