Meet the Artist: Q&A with #SBS Winner Joanne Wishart
At the start of May, we were selected as one of the businesses showcased by Theo Paphitis in his weekly Twitter campaign Small Business Sunday. As the name suggests, every Sunday, the Dragon’s Den star and serial entrepreneur chooses six businesses each week to shout out on his Twitter feed using the hashtag #SBS.
Theo asks small businesses to explain in just one tweet why they deserve to win, and I sent in a tweet without thinking he’d actually see - never mind pick Joanne Wishart Gallery as his #SBS choice for 9th May!
Since then, we’ve seen an influx of new followers across Twitter and Instagram, and I’m so excited to reach new people across the country (and even worldwide) from my little gallery in Cullercoats.
It’s been an exciting few months with regards to drawing new eyes to our business and the art I am so passionate about making! Earlier in the year, we were also mentioned in the Newcastle Chronicle in a piece about capturing the beauty of our region; you can read the full piece here.
So, with lots of new followers on social media, I thought now would be a great time to introduce myself again and answer some common questions about running a creative business in the North East.
What inspired you to enter the Small Business Sunday campaign?
“The #SBS campaign has been on my radar for a while now after first seeing Theo on Dragons Den.
“Recently, I read about him adding the London Graphics Centre to his retail acquisitions, and the connection was made!
“For anyone who knows, the LGC for artists is like a sweet shop for kids. This reminded me what a great opportunity it would be to become a SBS winner and join such a wonderful community of like-minded small businesses.
“Theo is the ultimate retailer, and it would be great to learn a thing or two from being part of his community. On top of this, he offers the amazing opportunity for 12 winners the chance to win a free stand at SpringAutumn Fair at the NEC.
“A prize worth thousands of pounds and an amazing platform to launch a business internationally on a much bigger scale. “
How did you enter the competition?
“I sat down and wrote five different versions of my tweet and tried to write something catchy.
“I thought it might take a few weeks of trying before I would catch his attention, but… Boom! on the first week. What a surprise!”
Bringing colour to people's homes in the form of joyful paintings, prints, gifts and greetings cards.— Joanne Wishart | Artist & Gallery 💙 (@Joanne_Wishart) May 8, 2022
All created with ❤️ by me & displayed beautifully at our Art Gallery in the North East of England. @TheoPaphitis #SBShttps://t.co/oPkfX3I4Hx pic.twitter.com/9l0I3EpGpx
How did you feel when you won?
“I was totally thrilled to have been chosen, especially on my first attempt. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support from fellow winners, and it's been great to participate in their #SBSwinnershour on Twitter.”
Please give a warm welcome to my fantastic #SBS Twitter winners for this week...🔥@suziebooks @Joanne_Wishart @GolazoGame— Theo Paphitis 🇺🇦 (@TheoPaphitis) May 9, 2022
💪Welcome with a retweet 💪
Check out my Instagram to see my other winners:@
Ok, let’s rewind. How did painting become your business?
“I first started selling my paintings mainly to my friends and their parents. At first, I thought they were just being supportive, but my husband pointed out that they might actually be buying them because my paintings were good!
“The more I painted, the more I learned how to paint works connected with people, giving them a reason to buy my art. It certainly didn't happen overnight. It took many years of working hard, painting all week and exhibiting at art fairs every weekend.
“Born in Berwick upon Tweed, I was blessed to grow up surrounded by the beautiful Northumbrian countryside. Spending childhood summers playing on Cocklawburn beach and visiting my grandparents in the village of Alnmouth.”
“In 2000, I gained a BDes Hons in Printed Textile Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. I started my career as a freelance designer creating surface pattern designs for gift wrap, greetings cards, furnishing fabrics and Hawaiian shirt print designs for the USA market.
And then, in 2006, I decided to make a change and develop my own painting and mixed media artwork. Together with my husband Ross, we set up our own self-publishing art, print and greetings card business and, in 2009, I won a female entrepreneur award for the North East of England's, Best Creative Business. Since then, we have never looked back.
“In 2019, we fulfilled my lifelong dream of running my own gallery. We bought a property in the seaside village of Cullercoats on the North Tyneside Coast, and the Joanne Wishart Gallery was born.”
How do you balance the administrative side of running a business without losing your passion for art?
“Balancing the admin side of the business with the creative side of the business has got to be the hardest thing of all.
“I set aside three days a week purely for painting. On those days, I try not to turn on my computer or even my mobile phone, because they are such a distraction to the creative process. I like to just shut myself away in my studio and let the creative juices flow.”
“My husband deals with the accounts and the day-to-day management of the gallery but there is always admin and social media to do.
“There are some jobs I really enjoy, like building my website and making videos for social media, but I’m starting to collaborate more with other professionals to pull in their expertise on things like copywriting, product photography and photoshop/graphic design.
“Ultimately, in the future, I would love to be in a position to be painting all week and have someone else take control of the business stuff!
Do you still paint for fun?
“I really do enjoy all the paintings I do but we have a mortgage to pay so pretty much all of them get sold.
“I think when I set out to paint for fun with a subject that may be new or something a bit different, it usually turns out to be my best work.
“If I ever stop enjoying painting it may be time to give up. I really enjoy what I do for a living so it makes my job so much easier!”
If you could paint anywhere in the world, where would it be?
“I really am a home bird and love staying in the UK. I would like to explore more of the west coast of Scotland and the Welsh coastline.
“We’ve had some amazing family holidays in these places with the kids so I would enjoy capturing more of their amazing scenery on canvas.
“If you were to twist my arm and put me on a plane then Iceland would certainly be on my list.”
What are your plans for the rest of 2022?
“My plans for 2022 are to really focus on my original paintings. They have been selling brilliantly through my ‘Collectors Club’ mailing list. Sign up on the homepage of my website.
“Many of my new paintings don’t even make it onto the gallery walls. I’m currently working on a new collection of Sycamore Gap to expand my Northumberland Landscapes after the success of my new Simonside series.”
“And, of course, if I’m lucky enough to win a stand at the Spring Fair, I'll be adding 20 new designs to my greetings card collections and preparing for a trade show.
“We’d love to double the number of shops we supply in the UK, so that's a target to aim for!”