Self-funded artist sees her work sell for £420k

Entrepreneur Holly Tucker recalls ‘risking it all’

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Ms Baker started in the art industry 10 years ago with no formal training after a life-changing trip to South America. Having to choose between “buying art materials over good food” in the early days of her career, she has now made a name for herself as both a successful artist and legendary marketer.

Ms Baker never intended to be an artist, with a degree in business sociology and psychology she earned her place in the marketing and event management industry where she stayed for seven years.

In what she called a “hedonistic lifestyle” Ms Baker explored the world but quickly became disillusioned with corporate life at the age of 28. 

Her search to find her “true soul purpose” led her to South America, saying that: “It took something as seismic as getting a one way ticket to make a radical change. I knew there was more to life and the change of scenery was crucial in rewiring my brain to create a new reality.”

She joined a street art project in Brazil that would be the defining moment in her career, and three months later in the Peruvian Amazon meeting  shamans she had the realisation that her calling was to be an artist. 

However, there was a barrier in achieving her newfound dream: money.

“I’d spent all my money travelling and had just enough to pay for a mosaic masters course in Venice before returning to London to start my new chapter as an artist. As a self funded artist, I scraped by in the first couple of years, selling each piece to fund the next. 

“I remember prioritising buying high quality art materials yet my food shopping having to get more basic – the art fed me more. I soon realised the potential of making prints as a steady and lucrative income stream. This helped fund my larger, more complicated and conceptual works, such as my infinity mirror coffin and my crystal beating heart sculpture. I kept pushing myself, my brand and living almost continuously in the stretch zone – both creatively and financially.”

During this time she experimented and discovered her own artistic style, and as commissions began to flow in she reinvested in her business and took on more ambitious projects, within a year she had doubled her investments. 

“Now I am working on multiple six figure commissions,” she added. 

In 2015 Ms Baker had her biggest commission yet: embellishing a Steinway grand piano in Swarovski crystals in Qatar. This piece alone would go on to sell for £420,000 and she continued working on multiple six-figure commisions across the middle east. 

Soon after, she was able to buy her first home in London, a church conversion with eight metre ceilings and stained glass windows. 

“I come from very humble beginnings, from one of the most underprivileged council estates in Middlesbrough, where joyriders were regularly burning out cars on my street. So my first pad being a church was a really beautiful moment.”

Recalling her first artistic space, Ms Baker noted: “I had a chilly railway arch studio which had mice and tried to stay warm using portable heaters, an electric blanket and heat packs while working late at night! I went from a secure corporate salary to complete unpredictability. 

“At first I was concerned that I hadn’t studied art and was slightly envious of my assistants who had art degrees whilst I only did GCSE art, yet my art career moved so fast, within eight months I was doing an install at Tate Modern. I was always rushing from one deadline to the next, one art show or installation after another. I guess I did my own self directed art degree a few times over.

“In the very early days I would work for 12-18 hours a day, I wanted to make up for lost time as I discovered art late in life. I’ve got so much passion and drive and I had about 10 roles to play back then and would sometimes burn out.”

Now, the successful artist only works four days a week and appreciates the fresh perspective of a one way ticket to inspire her next masterpieces. 

“Travel is my biggest source of inspiration. When it was difficult to travel I went for long walks in nature and tried to vary my nature adventures. A level of routine is good, however my creative mind needs fresh views to spark fresh ideas. 

Despite her lacking knowledge of the industry, Ms Baker capitalised on her experience in marketing to help drive her creative business, using social media almost exclusively to fuel her growth.

She advised that other businesses looking to do this should focus on their brand values and reflect it through their social media pages: “My art is visual and conceptual and so I use my platform to share my ideas about the universe, sustainability, changing the world, spirituality and connection – though my art. We live in a fast world, it helps to have a consistent feed to show your personality, values and vibe in a snapshot. The goal is to connect with like minded souls and the direct and immediate reaction is incredible.”

She also advised that creatives can become great business-minded people as long as they focus on their vision, noting that if they don’t have one then it may be time for their own ‘one way ticket’. 

Ms Baker added: “If you run a creative business it’s your job to stay inspired, which means taking time off to do cool stuff so that your brain is juicy with fresh ideas. Don’t waste energy wanting everyone to like what you are doing, so long as you like it, go for it. People will get lit up by your passion and enthusiasm, so don’t hold back, share your creative adventure with the world.”

Ms Bakers’ latest installation ‘Light messages for the soul’ artworks features in Westminster’s Inside Out Festival until 31 October launched during Frieze Week including eco-art-activism piece ‘The trees are watching’ which features hidden messages in nature.

Source: Read Full Article