A North Tyneside based artist has turned redundancy into a thriving new business following help from TEDCO Business Support and the New Enterprise Allowance programme.
Robert Myers (52), from North Shields took up his paintbrush after a creative trip to America and dissatisfaction in his career gave him the push to pursue work as a full-time artist, creating oil-based paintings of North East cityscapes.
Robert Myers comments: “Like many people, the career I was passionate about was not necessarily the one I had. I used my creative and artistic skills in more commercial ways, working as a 3D visualiser for the building and construction sector to give me the stability and career progression I needed whilst my family was young.
“I enjoyed my work but there was always that nagging feeling at the back of my head telling me I should be using my artistic skills in more creative ways. However, painting remained just a hobby for decades before a trip to New York completely transformed my approach.”
Traversing the streets of the Big Apple and taking in the colours and vibrant urban landscape of the city had a profound impact on the creative direction of Robert’s work. His art, which had concentrated on interpretations of urban life and city environments, took on a new and more expressive tone following his American trip, developing his creative direction into a new territory altogether.
Robert continues: “New York lit a creative fire in my mind and my paintbrush. I was suddenly bringing this more expressive style of urban art into the North East cityscapes I was creating. The difference struck a chord not only with me, but people who were interested in purchasing the art I was creating.
“Around this time, I was made redundant from my main role and the timing just seemed right to finally follow my passion. I decided to become a full time artist and develop this new creative direction into a more expansive portfolio of work which was clearly resonating with people.”
Robert approached Nicky Burke, business advisor with TEDCO Business Support to look at the ways in which to set-up as a self-employed artist and develop the Robert Myers name and brand to ensure art could become a valid commercial endeavour.
Robert continues: “Nicky advised that I join the New Enterprise Allowance scheme which helps people who are unemployed to develop their skills and business ideas to become self-employed. With Nicky’s support and that of the NEA programme, I was able to set up the business as Robert Myers Art to develop my portfolio of work and create new relationships with commercial partners from a selling perspective.
“Although I sell direct via my website, I also have a regular stall at Tynemouth market to display my work and talk to potential customers. I am represented by Tower Art Galleries in Seaton Sluice but my biggest breakthrough came in the form of NE Art Collective in Eldon Garden who have recently started to stock my work – a hugely rewarding stage in my journey to becoming a self-employed artist.
“NE Art Collective is one of the premier galleries in the region, supporting a range of local artists. Of the 100 artists they support, they are now displaying and actively supporting my work as the September artist of the month. It took a few attempts to be recognised but their backing is hugely beneficial to any artist and I thank them for their support.”
TEDCO Business Support delivers the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to individuals looking to explore options in self-employment and provides help to eligible candidates aged 18 and over.
Nicky Burke, TEDCO Business Support advisor comments: “Robert is an incredibly talented individual who through perseverance and creative drive is developing a business that has been a long-held passion for decades. The best businesses are often those with the most passion for what they create and in the case of Robert Myers Art, it is delightful to see this work be recognised by gallery owners and members of the public for its artistic merit. Robert has been a pleasure to work with and I wish him the best of luck for his future.”
For further information on the NEA scheme or any of the business start-up programmes offered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East, please visit www.tedco.org.