40 years in the making
Several years ago, at the age of 40, I decided to go back to school.
I’ve worked in creative industries for most of my life, but I’d never really given art a proper go, so a fancy fine art degree was exactly what I needed to fill a creative void I’d convinced myself I had. An art degree would challenge me in new life-affirming ways (probably) and unlock my full artistic potential (whatever that was)—plus it would make me infinitely more fascinating at dinner parties.
I geared up, started a bridging course at Newcastle University, and six months later the fine art degree was cancelled. Ouch.
A minor set-back
Armed with all of this untapped potential and motivated by a cliché desire to stamp my mark on the art world, I did what every budding entrepreneur would do and dropped out of uni. Sure there were other creative degrees I could’ve enrolled in aside from fine art, but I wanted to be an artist man, and a damn fine one at that.
At the time it didn’t make sense to me to do a graphic design or visual communications degree, because I’d done a lot of that in my career already. But I’d really enjoyed that six month bridging course, and I’d produced some of my okayest artworks in that time—more so than any other period in my life.
During that period I’d also made my first linocut block print. My brief was to create a portrait using linocut printing and collage. It may be morbid serendipity, but my musical hero Prince had died suddenly in April 2016 so I immediately knew who my portrait should feature (it featured Prince in case you were wondering).
Never don’t give up
That first linocut Prince print was what set me on this path. I got a lot of interest in it, and some encouraging feedback, and it made me want to do more. It also led to my beautiful friend Cath commissioning my first ever artwork from me, which of course was a huge thrill and massive privilege. Just look how stoked she is in this photo.
Working on artworks featuring musicians I love is pretty great, and seeing how happy they make my friends is even better—but I’m eternally, frustratingly, restless. I get deeply into new hobbies to the detriment of family, friends, and housework, and then I get bored, and then I’m done.
After my university plans had been dashed I focussed back on my day-job as a web developer / online marketer. I work for an innovation consultancy called The Village of Useful where I spend a lot of time building e-commerce stores and managing online marketing campaigns.
Getting restless once again I decided that I needed to make an e-commerce store of my own, and of course I needed to market it myself, and of course it would be amazing and incredibly successful, and then it struck me: what better way to combine my three passions of art, music, and web, than to create an online store selling prints of my artworks?
Yeah Nice Ink is born
In the last few months I’ve devoted my time to setting up this site, getting all of the e-commerce systems in place, and preparing all of the marketing. I’ve also devoured as many books on the subject of print-making as I can get my hands on, and I’ve upgraded some of my linocut tools.
I’ve done very little actual art recently (aside from this Kurt Cobain commission), but hopefully that’s about to change.
Where to next?
I’m excited about this new part of my life. I don’t know where it will take me and I have no expectations that the commercial side of it will ever be successful, but that wasn’t my motivation.
More than anything I want to push myself to become a better artist. I’m hoping this website will motivate me to do that, and that the new Creative Industries degree I’ve enrolled in for next year will too.
If you’ve read this far, thank-you. If you’re interested in following my work you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. If you’d like to know when my next artwork will be available you should sign up to my newsletter.