Why I started making art again after a decade away

In Year 6 we did an art project about The Blitz. A friend and I painted a picture of the London skyline with fires lighting up the sky. I remember at this point knowing that I wanted to go to art school when I grew up.

Apart from a small hiccup in Lower Sixth when I thought theatre design and production might be a more practical course to take, I stuck with my goal and ended up spending 5 years at university studying a foundation course, Fine Art degree and Communication Design postgrad course. My parent’s must have been a bit pissed off when I left feeling rather disillusioned with the art sector and decided I wanted to be a project coordinator for charities instead. But I secured work and ended up doing that for over a decade.

I’d always wondered whether I’d ever start designing and creating again. A few years ago I visited an art exhibition of work by my art teacher from secondary school. I told her I didn’t know if I’d ever create art again, but without hesitation she said “You will”, and I believed her.

Not long after that I came up with the idea for first product - a canvas bag to highlight the problem of plastic pollution. I had a clunky stab at creating a design in Adobe Illustrator and naively ordered quite a large amount of bags before I did all that much to build up much of a following or support online.

Most of the bags that I’ve sold have gone to family and friends, and I’ve still got some sitting on top of a cupboard in my study. But a seed had been sowed, and I knew that my childhood desire to make art was coming back.

Fast-forward a year, and I was on maternity leave with my second baby and I had put growing a business on hold for the last six months. I knew I had to do something to get myself back in the game, so I took part in the #marchmeetthemaker hashtag challenge. It forced me to create content every day and think about what I actually wanted to do with my little side-hustle. I one again had a re-awakening of my creative side, and started picking up a paintbrush to experiment with brush lettering. Whilst I haven’t stuck with the lettering, it forced me to start making things again and re-visit using words and phrases in my art - something I had done a lot during my degree.

And so, despite wondering if changing tack for a second time was a really stupid idea, I started watching You Tube tutorials on how to manipulate typography in Illustrator. Something clicked. I knew my previous experiments had been leading to this style of working, and that the digital lettering I was creating was truly “me”. With a new found confidence in the work I was creating, making the decision to go full-time self-employed to grow this business after being made redundant wasn’t a hard decision. Scary, yes! But not hard.

I’m glad you have joined me for the ride.

You can follow more of my journey as a small business owner over on Instagram @brownlowbrowndesigns or take a look at my work in my shop.

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