Tattoo My Life

Tattoos can be polarising – you either love them or hate them.

Some people love and cover themselves in them, or just have one that you might regret. Some would never dream of having one but admire them from afar, and some people even judge another person’s character based on how inked up they are – I just find the whole thing fascinating! Especially in this day in age, where some of the most influential and famous people in the world are covered in them **stops to Google image search David Beckham pics, returns half an hour later empty-handed unable to pick a favourite** and yet we are told to cover them up for job interviews or important business meetings. In 2014. Really?

I guess at this point I should mention that I myself am not covered in tatts but I have dabbled… starting with an ill-judged decision to get a small heart tattoo on my shoulder at the age of 16 to ‘always remember the best day of my life’ (I now have no idea what I did that day other than get drunk). It’s not the most elegant of designs but I don’t hate it – it actually makes me smile when I see it, a warm reminder of being a rebellious teenager with nothing to actually rebel against.

heart tatt

Then when I started doing more sketching a few years later, I became really interested in tattoo art – it lends itself well to pencil/pen drawing and shading techniques. I started researching and creating ideas for my next tattoo which became good drawing practice. I couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted and where on my body so I eventually went off the idea. It was too much pressure but I kept on drawing up tattoo design ideas and looking at traditional techniques. I really liked the common themes I was seeing – flowers, skulls, intricate line drawings and patterns, hearts and daggers – I love how striking these images can be, often even without any colour. I love the Mexican art influence of sugar skulls and bright patterns with political/religious messages. Tattoo designs often have quite dark themes which can give them a beauty that has a unique emotional impact. I took influence from tattoo art for my drawings and paintings which lead me to realise, it’s actually tattoo design that I love. I want this style of art and illustration in my life, but not necessarily all over my body.

By Secret Painter

By Secret Painter

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Setting Up Shop

Setting up shop

Yes I know, these pictures are boring.

But to me, these are the most EXCITING pictures in the world right now – this is really happening!!

I’ve always been a hand-made gift kind of person, thoroughly believing ‘it’s the thought that counts’ to be totally true when it comes to giving and receiving presents. I often used it as a good excuse to get creative and make something that has a personal meaning, finding that well thought-out gifts that have had some time and effort put into them always get the most positive response and appreciation from people.

It started as mostly canvas paintings and cards but there were times that I wanted to give something practical as well as personal, which is how I got into porcelain painting. Designing mugs as wedding gifts was fun and I liked playing around with ideas, making sets of two for a cute couples gift. In fact, I enjoyed the process so much that I finally discovered something I have spent years trying to figure out – this is a creative outlet that could potentially be a business.

I have worked in the fast-paced film industry for the past 7 years and there were plenty of elements of the job that I totally loved – watching new movies (of course), innovative marketing, media planning, consumer research, premieres and parties, brainstorms – I’ve been lucky enough to experience the big time. But it was exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure and I found myself looking for potential alternatives to the corporate office life. My recent relocation from the hectic London pace to a more relaxed, outdoorsy lifestyle in Sydney has given me the time to think about what I really want to do and the answer is actually quite simple, I just want to paint.

So introducing my new venture – Secret Painter. Hand-painted gifts, starting on Etsy with a new shop opening next week. I am excited and terrified in equal measure!

I really want to take you on this journey with me; to show the process of starting a new business in a real, honest way that might be helpful to others in the future; to get your advice on what people really want from giving/receiving hand-made gifts and how I can help make this business the best it possibly can be; to gain inspiration from as many sources as possible. And to help prevent insanity of course, having gone from a job talking to a huge range of people every day to working from home.

Thanks for popping by and please do subscribe for regular updates if you can. Comments are hugely welcome if you have any feedback or ideas on any posts as we go along.

Now let’s get started – Ready, Steady, GO!

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What is an Artist anyway?

So, I’ve mentioned in my bio that I’m a ‘Painter/Illustrator’ which is entirely true. I paint, therefore I am a Painter. I draw, therefore I am an Illustrator. I shied away from using the word ‘artist’ because I didn’t feel qualified to call myself an artist but now I’m wondering why – and also wondering, how the hell does a person ‘qualify’ as an artist anyway?

I initially thought that to call yourself an artist, it should be your profession i.e. you have created artwork that people have either paid to view in a gallery space or bought a piece of your work.  Which I haven’t. But this logic makes being an artist all about money, which seems to inherently go against the meaning of Art and artistic expression, or at least as I had always thought of it.

Qualify, that’s it – you need to have a qualification in Art to be an artist. Really??

Naturally, I turned to Google. Wikipedia says: An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art. I found this to be unusually vague for Wikipedia which comfortingly made me feel like it wasn’t such a ridiculous question after all.

Then I asked the all-knowing internet the age-old question – What is Art? Dictionary definition: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Well this is just lovely. This is the answer I hoped for, a well-articulated version of what I already thought art to be. Phew.

There are other words that are often associated with Art such as pretentious and intellectual – these are the words that got to me after a while. I love, and have always loved, drawing and painting. At school, this was encouraged and became a talent that had purpose. As an adult this seemed to change, Art was suddenly an intellectual pursuit for people much older than me. It became boring. I felt I had to be extremely knowledgable about Art and it’s history, the current gallery ‘scene’ and basically live and breathe all things Art – that until I did this, I couldn’t possibly engage with it in a serious, grown-up way. I felt out of my depth.

So I stopped drawing and painting, discovering other passions that were more naturally-suited to a young person’s lifestyle such as Music and Film. But I never fell out of love with it and now, at the age of 31, I realise I don’t care. It doesn’t matter how well-researched I am in Art. I’m not even interested in reading about Art – I just love drawing and painting. I want to create things, all day, every day, in lots of different ways. I want to produce works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

So yes – I’m an Artist.

Are you?

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And we’re off!

Feeling the ‘First Post Pressure’ here folks… got to the point that I’m thinking all I need to do is post something and it’s started! But what?

Then I realised, the idea of this blog isn’t about well thought-out words or even fully formed ideas. It’s just about the process. And pictures of course. Lots and lots of pictures…

So here’s what I’m working on right now, just a couple of small canvas paintings for my apartment. This is part of a two piece set, which is fast becoming my thing and the inspiration for my mug designs shortly coming to my Etsy store.

Phew! That wasn’t actually as hard as I thought…


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