That’s All Folks


waving goodbye

That’s it, nothing new going to be written here. Your most brilliant of advisers is off to play with other toys. I have hugely enjoyed doing this but I need to create some extra time to do other things .

It feels liberating and sad, but it makes sense.

I am going to leave the blog up so that you can come and dip in.

The advice list is on your right . All there waiting for your eyes and your action. If you set yourself one a month you will end up in a better place, so it’s up to you.

The media advice will go out of date so consider if it’s still relevant

Final Words

Nothing is as good or bad as you think

Put your bloody prices up

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Artist


Benjamin Hope at his easel

London Greenwich based artist Benjamin Hope,  has the most remarkable  ability to paint still lifes so convincingly that you feel it must be a photograph or the actual thing.

 Having got himself one hell of an education (last stop PhD in theoretical  physics from Cambridge ) and then three years in the city  ( to amass money) not to mention a very serious running career;  now, at long last, at the age of 35, he is getting down to making a career of his painting.

brushes

The need to succeed

Ben is driven, in fact he is more than driven, he is a perfectionist. What ever he does he wants to make his mark

“I want to do, what I do well. It’s about fulfilling my potential by the end of my finite time – in a blink of an eye you are dead, I don’t want to get to the end of my life without making the most of it”

Whoa there! That’s quite an attitude, but actually its a young man’s attitude, He  has a lot of talents and he’s keen to make each one work for him.  But the under belly of this determination is his annoyance with himself when he doesn’t go all the way to the highest plinth every the time.

 He is a talented academic, he won a prize for his Masters, but no prizes for his Doctorate, life got in the way and he is cross with himself.

Benjamin Hope Cross country running

 He is a competitive runner, he was an international schoolboy,  and earned four Cambridge Blues for cross-country. He has run a half marathon in one hour seven minutes which is Olympic standard fast but he’s had endless injuries which have knocked back his chances, he is after an England vest.  He has another two competitive years to make it. When I met him he was just back from training with the top British runners at altitude in Kenya having sustained an injury which prevented his doing the London Marathon.

The disappointment made him  consider if he should choose between running and art but realised that he just could not give up now.

Timetable

He told me he now aimed to paint every hour of the day that he was not eating or running , allowing himself a film on Sunday afternoons. Sounds horrendous, but in practice I don’t think it works out like that, as we ate his home-made scones and lunched off his home-made humus which is remarkable for someone who only paints, eats and runs.

Ben making humous

Planning

Ben is a man who likes to get his ducks in a row, he plans and prepares with huge diligence.

 His still lifes are small but are minutely detailed and they take a long time . In fact small pieces are no quicker to achieve than larger ones as they require just as many changes of tone. So finding a block of  time to complete a picture has been an issue.

Oil on canvas hugely detailed picture of four pears partially wrapped in the BMJ
But each year in his holidays he would spend a month painting

“I began the pears painting towards the end of my summer break,  just before beginning my final year at Warwick University. I remember it wasn’t finished by the time we were due to go to Wales on holiday so I balanced the entire scene on the back seat of the car and completed the piece in the kitchen of my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Broad Haven!”

That is typical, problems are to be overcome, even if his solutions are slightly eccentric. Hence the rig up in his studio to maintain a constant light so he can paint at anytime and the lighting and shadows  remain constant.

Hence also the extraordinary drafting lines on this canvas to make sure the perspective is   “absolutely right”  This he worked out with the canvas on the floor, extending the lines from the objects with string .  Bizarre, but clearly you can’t take the scientist out of the artist.

Canvas with detailed grid

Benjamin already has a reputation for his remarkably detailed realistic still lifes even though he has only painted a handful. Mysteriously, despite not having done any painting in the intervening year, each picture is even better than its predecessor.

Still life of bag of flour and eggs oil on canvas, 50x39cm

This took 9 days of six hours of work a day and was done in real daylight. It is the picture he did on leaving the bank to make sure he could still paint

Spending

Up until now his life has been about preparation for his artistic career  After his PhD he worked three years in the city as a analyst at Barclays Capital to amass  a pot of money to clear his debts and keep him afloat for the first few years. He then bought himself the Greenwich  flat as somewhere to live and paint, spending three months having it refurbished

It’s a  city boy refurbishment, his clothes are  crammed into hold-alls as there is still no wardrobe,  but one glance at the bathroom  tells you that  nothing less than state of the art will do.You can’t work for three years in the city for a mega salary without some of it rubbing off.

Still life on £1000 table

 His painting equipment is just as high-end. The table bought for the studio to place his still life on cost £1000 . All his equipment is the best and it is new. He has written to his hero, the painter  Peter Brown to find out what outdoor easel he recommends. He has established no budget for his equipment spend, he is just keeping all the receipts.

City Bonus?

His time in the city could be the making or the breaking of him. In one way it has taught him to live well and enjoy the best, he has worked out that he can live on £30,000 a year. But to prepare to do so he has just spent a lot of money, he will miss that ability to spurge on a piece of kit he really wants. It will be a struggle to drop back down to studenty living.

He easily dismissed any need for lots of money “I have no desire to buy a Mercedes” then realised he wasnt being quite honest with himself  “but I wouldn’t mind a Georgian house though”

Tubes of oil paint

On the other hand the city has shown him a different way of doing things, he is far more marketing savvy and understands that he must target the rich to get the prices he needs to aspire to. His city years have given him a connection to that world. Just before he left Barclays Capital he advertised his work on their intranet which goes to 37,000 people and picked up 10 commissions.

He ditched his old website which was charming but made  him look like an Old Dutch Master and is having it professionally  re-worked by Ochil Studio into something sleeker and more suitable for his intended city buyers. He is getting mates rates for the redesign because Ochil studio is run by his cousin.

The artist at work

Business Advice

He is extraordinarily lucky to have had full two days of intensive advice from a friend who is a top specialist in business advice for creatives. This has helped him put together a clear five-year plan of how to go about things and to consider what he wants to achieve.

She told him that he should try to work directly with his clients and not through a gallery and put on his own shows, if possible in the salons of the rich and at the key selling times of year.

Her reasoning was that a top gallery expects to take over and direct their artist’s entire output and represent them exclusively  in the Western world, and would always take a large tranche of the price. Ben is a little disappointed not to be allowed a very grand gallery, he likes the idea of walking down Bond Street arriving at the opening party as the famous outsider to be feted by all.

She also taught him how to handle commissions and the need for a contract so even if the picture never makes it to finished piece he will receive payments along the way. There should be payment for the initial consultation and sketches and another for the final compositional designs so that even before bush is put to canvas for the final piece the artist has received 50% of the final price.

She made him define his goals and then timetable the year to facilitate that end. So because Ben is ” a sucker for letters after my name ” he should timetable the submission dates for  the relevant shows like the Royal Academy show or the BP Portrait Award and timetable in the time to produce a piece to submit.

Portrait sketches oil on canvas by Benjamin Hope

 She also helped him see the sort of price that this part of the market is likely to accept, for example she thought his  oil sketch portraits should sell comfortably for £600. This must be good news as they are relatively quick to do,  the last portrait Ben did took  two hours, but the first portrait took five, as he had to discover how to do it. He is keen to expand the portrait painting as he enjoys meeting people.

In addition to portrait painting Ben also wants to expand into landscape, painting  views of  Blackheath, Greenwich and Canary Wharf  which will appeal to his intended clientele. However that must wait for the acquisition of the perfect outdoor easel and sufficient nerve

“I need to conquer working outside, at the moment I would be crippled by working in public view “

Studio
Last year Ben thinks he made about £1000 from his painting this year he is aiming for £20,000 it’s a big ask, especially with his running commitments.

There is a sensationally good resource for UK artists it’s so good I am linking  it here, its run by the University of the Arts London,  Artquest

Wood Sculptor


Well established, South London-based, award-winning wood sculptor Jeff Soan is in his sixties and specialises in making articulated wooden creatures.

Ambivalence about Money

It’s so different talking to an established craftsman there is a gentleness and content which someone driving a younger business lacks. The money worries become  a  habit,  it’s a sort of pipe and slippers sort of worry

“I guess I worry less about the money now, I like a bit of insecurity”

Jeff’s attitude to money is ambivalent, he has a very full order book but as the recession stories took to the headlines he admits to contemplating what useful objects he could make

” I really thought my sales would fall away, everybody would be belt-tightening”

It didn’t work out like that. He thinks that’s  down to an ever-widening net, the more people buy his pieces, the more people come across them and want one themselves. His customers have become his salesmen.

“At the moment its the seal that is keeping my business going. I sell about one a week. “

When the seal first emerged in about 1990 it was priced at  £75 now it costs £300 but in galleries it costs much more.

“I raised the price every time I sold one, I went over £300 but I bought it back down as I was not comfortable going higher”

When I push him on why he is not comfortable, he can’t really explain

“The seal has sold for  £600 in some galleries but in my dusty shed £300 is enough”

he tried to say something about making it  affordable but as he offers Jeff Credit, his answer to art credit arrangements the galleries use such as Own Art  it’s not really an answer.

Artist or Craftsman?

Like many craftsmen he is resistant to the concept of being an artist and charging art prices.  He feels that he wouldn’t be able to keep creating something new

“I am very self-aware and I know where I fail. I am not really an artist, this is repeatable work .”

This is no argument as plenty of artists make their living from prints of their work.
Jeff also claims to be a “wood butcher” He shows me some slithers of wood of varying thicknesses as proof of his imperfect technique,  he insists his long time assistant Julia is far more proficient. But actually that proves he is more artist than craftsman. Also he is fussy. He talked of abandoning this Otter as his eyes  were not exactly symmetrical

Imperfect otter

I said that exact symmetry in humans was deemed beauty and is very rare, so his otter was fine. He said  his wife Barbara left the business in the early days over a row between them about the placement of duck eyes. So he’s not that much of a wood butcher if he is so demanding about the finished product.

The argument about not being able to keep inventing new pieces is equally false as recently the  Cutty Sark  gave him some of the boat’s  orignal timbers to work with

And he has already produced two entirely new pieces

An automata of the Cutty Sark rolling the waves

And an articulated sculpture of Captain Woodget’s Collie

It’s not that Jeff doesn’t see where his work could take him, he told me about the One Tree Project where artists made pieces from the wood of a single tree

“Guy Tapin’s wren sold on the phone for £1000 my wren was £50”

Guy Taplin sells out of a Cork street gallery and commands huge prices Jeff says he’s fed up with galleries and is doing more direct shows.

He has even put some pieces on Folksy where  he sells everything he lists. It costs 20p an entry and 5% commission

“I get a trickle of income from Folksy, a lovely little extra income that keeps my PayPal topped up”

The Man Who would not Charge More

Well I don’t completely buy any of his explanations, perhaps part of the answer lies in his past

Here he is sitting on the steps of a friend’s house in Ikaria in Greece in 1974, he is a romantic and an idealist, fresh out of Goldsmiths having studied art and design. This is a guy who is going to go his own way. He hated Goldsmiths as he is  a practical sort at the height of the non figurative fashion in art schools. He gets married, has a family and supports them by becoming a builder as he had done some skivvying for his mate’s builder dad and he is anti art after Goldsmiths

Jeff is still a romantic, he’s going  back to Ikaria, where he was left a little plot of land, with a container full of materials to build himself a rudimentary dwelling incorporating the container into the build.

His Achilles Heel is his desire not to be corralled into any single activity, he is in love with his extra curriculum projects. He has plenty of creativity but he wants to use it to please himself . He is simply not motivated by money. Go to his website, click gallery and it splits to sculpture and “other interests”  His conversation is full of projects and creative passions.

On his blog he lists cycling, composting, painting, photography, bookbinding, greenroofing, wood, recycling, house renovation and Ikaria as his interests.

I think it suits him to let his wood sculptures give him enough to live on, as it stands it is a business he can engage and disengage from as he wishes. It was no accident that when he interviewed his book-keeper, the only thing that she could sit on was a full-sized  articulated pig. He says he is

“a bit naive when it comes to money, I really don’t know what I make as long as its enough.”

I don’t think he is naive, I think he is choosing how he wants to live and that means not maximizing his income

“I like to flit; computing, chat, work – to always choose the path with the heart”

When Disaster Strikes

Any business hits disaster every so often, but Jeff seems to ride the waves remarkably happily. In November 1996 his garden studio burnt down. The woodburner’s chimney got too hot and set an accumulation of leaves on the roof alight. He says by Christmas he was up and running again. He was given money, tools and temporary premises ” it was a heart warming experience.”

It’s predecessor burnt down the studio

More recently Jeff nearly lost the tendons in his right hand He had the blade saw running and the postman knocked at the studio door with a parcel and the hideous happened. His hand has recovered but he viewed the time off work “as a bit of a holiday” and practised writing with his left hand ” which was actually more legible than my normal writing”  He meant to paint a red circle on the floor round the blade saw but he still hasn’t done so.

The hand eating saw

The really terrible disaster “much worse than the fire ” was when he discovered he had to pay VAT hence the hasty arrival of a book-keeper.

Employing an Assistant

Jeff has got working with an assistant down to a fine art. Julia has been working with him since 1991. He pays her a good hourly rate and she comes in at midday. She executes many of his pieces

“I generate it , she produces it. It’s an area I feel a little bit uncomfortable about. Some of the fish I make I haven’t touched until I sign them”

Because she comes in at midday, it means Jeff gets the studio to himself in the mornings and her presence in the afternoons is “companionable” He says she is his quality control

“When I make things I am concerned with the impression and the shaping. She is more careful, points out deficiencies diplomatically ‘Did you want to leave those bandsaw marks’

 and far better at packing “there is a part of my brain that just wont pack”

He gets around the need to keep her continually supplied with work  by ceding the small creature part of the business entirely to her, which he sells alongside his own at shows on her behalf , while she chips in with some of the stand cost. Jeff used to employ two assistants but he found that meant that he was demoted to maintenance man and was constantly in the way.

Picture of Jeff’s office compiled with Microsoft ICE one of his latest passions

Hours

Jeff finds he needs to spend 1-2 hours on the computer a morning and then starts in his workshop about 10.30am  and finishes around 6 in the evening.

“I do have a wonderful time and I feel well paid and I am doing better now than I have ever done”

Getting to the comfortable place Jeff is now  has taken 24 years. In 1987 he was making batch produced wooden penguins which he sold at Greenwich craft market. He’s had good and bad luck, he hasn’t chased money and  he has succeeded in living the life he wants to.

If you are a wood worker with a younger business and would like a bit of honest feedback then leave me a comment .

Mosaic Artist


Mosaic Artist at work

Janine Nelson has a big studio in  South London, she runs mosaic workshops and makes small-scale mosaic pieces from old china under the name of Smashing China. She hosts school visits at a local  museum three days a week and works hard in her studio for the remainder.

“I think I’m feeling in a fairly good place even though I’m not making money or selling much”

Back Story

When Janine talks about her career it seems more like a swirl than a progression. Jamaican born, she was bought up in rural Hampshire and did Fine Art at Camberwell School of Art ,   went on to do  teaching training at Goldsmiths College then taught   secondary school art. She subsequently did a self funded textiles MA at Goldsmiths before falling for mosaics

“Everything I wanted to do has been self funded by teaching”

Her teaching hours have fluctuated according to the fragility of her bank balance there have been interludes when she has been able to spend all her time on her mosaics  using capital saved from her teaching income. In 2007 she had accumulated capital that has now evaporated by half. She also has her part-time museum job 

“For the past three years what is coming in doesn’t match what is going out.

 This year I havent used my savings and have managed by cutting running costs  but this is only to be expected given that I was working as a full-time teacher and went down to part-time museum work!”

She is lucky to have  economic studio space, she rents a double unit at the Lewisham Art house  co-op for  a minimum of 5 monthly hours  running the organisation and £150 a month rent.

Janine’s partner is a fine artist with a studio in the same building so they are acclimatised to this hand to mouth way of managing.

“You never know what is going to happen – the next email, the next phone call”

Reality Check

All crafts people have to be determined about pursuing their craft, you can’t give up just because you have a meagre income, it takes time to find out  what sells, and how you need to spend your time . You learn as you go and you keep evolving your product and the way you sell it, until you hit on something that can produce a living wage. Even then you get feast  and famine, it’s never a smooth income.

However Janine had absolutely no record of her costs and income, not even a simple total. She thought she might have made “£400 to £500” this year. She is trying to get her business off the ground with her eyes tightly shut. Each new direction is looked on as the turn in  her fortunes.

You have to analyse your figures, you can’t hide from the reality,  it allows the worry and self-doubt to bed in deeper, it doesn’t evade it.  There are so many unknowns, its at least worth using the knowns that you have actually experienced.

Where is the money coming from that she has made? Product sales? Teaching? Where is the money going to? Materials? Overheads? Travel? Fees?

With some answers, you can tweak, for example the products that have sold, could they be priced a bit higher in future? Are you buying materials in bulk to get good unit costs but carrying a lot of stock you may never use? Lots of questions sit in the figures, they contain the clues, you need to look at them carefully.

Product

I like a lot of what Janine makes, I like her mosaic additions to vintage plates I think they would look stunning on a dresser.

They are very pretty and understated, you come to notice her additions as a delightful extra, your eye has a private feast.

Look how the Heron stoops under the foliage, he is so delicately done  and is so at one with his landscape

Flying Duck plate

And here is a most solitary duck struggling to fly

 These plates should surely sell, they are absolutely on message, for the vintage, retro upcycling fashion of the moment. Tea time and dressers and cake stands and Cath Kitson. They are thoughtful, individual pieces with a bit of character and a real eye for pattern. The maker of these should be making far more than she is

So why isn’t she? The answer is simple the public would have great difficulty finding them. They are beautifully displayed on Janine’s cleanly designed attractive website Smashing Chintz but you can’t buy from there. She very occasionally goes to a fair but then she has to absorb the costs of taking part.

Online Craft Market Places

Her latest move is to put  some of her work in an online shop which she has asked me not to name.

This sweet little Scottie dog embellished plate costs £45 through the online shop. When I spoke to her she had sold 3 or 4 plates through this site and had been on  for five or six weeks. Given the quantity of produce the visitor has to pick from, that is a good response.  

Janine says that she was approached by the online shop after taking part in a craft fair at Bovey Tracey. They said that they had a special offer on and she only had a limited time to decide. The deal on offer was £400 joining fee and  30% commission or £600 joining fee and 20% commission

 She took the first deal. So she makes £31.50 if she sells that plate. Here are the sums:

  • The vintage plate is worth about £3 (that is the price of a  similar plate is on eBay)
  • Materials (grout, template, glue )
  •  Tools to make the mosaic
  •  Studio overheads
  • Three hours making time
  •  Time to process the order itemising and photographing it for the website.
  • Delivery and packaging costs and time ( the site encourages vendors to make this free to the customer for standard UK delivery)
  • Eventually she will have recouped the £400 entry fee, but at this stage she is working entirely for the good of the online shop.

So money made =NONE

Not on the High Street is not unusual there are a lot of online presences that tempt the novice but there is an optimum size for these operations.  You can get swamped by other products so that even if the whole world is coming to the site you havent that much chance of a sale. Think of Etsy.

The site’s interests are still served as they continue to take on new recruits and entry fees, they are selling product so they have commission coming in. You can always try to buy your way to extra sales by buying  catalogue space but then you are  again reducing your margins.

I think that the small craftsman needs to be in control. Janine has a great website, she simply has to import something like PayPal and she can sell directly.

She takes workshops, so can collect contacts and tell them when there is new product. Twenty interested people who are visiting to see your stuff and no one else’s are  likely to produce more sales than a thousand casual visitors who flicker through a gigantic site.

 Craft websites are not a  numbers game, its how long do your visitors  look and where did the interested ones come form? All this stuff can be discovered through linking your site to Google Analytics which you can do for free. They provide oodles of geek speak info but after a while you get to understand enough for it to be useful.

Limitations

There was something else that Janine said that worried me and that was about how much time she was happy to spend making her mosaics. She explained that cutting the china and using the grout meant you are exposed to cement dust. You need eye protection, rubber gloves, goggles and a dust mask which she uses, but she says she can still feel it in her lungs and for that reason she wouldn’t like to spend more than two or three days a week actually making.

I am concerned that two or three days making leaves very little time to experiment and try out new ideas, you need time to play around to see what else you can produce, is there another way of doing things?

“It’s quite rare to have a making day as I am doing all the other stuff on the computer and ordering materials “

That means she cannot produce enough stock at her current prices to make a living even if she sold it.

This cow takes four or five hours to produce ( he is still ungrouted in this picture) he sells for £80. If you make for 2.5 days you could produce only five cows which would mean a potential sale of £400 with all your costs to come off that. 

That means if you sold everything you could make ( which nobody ever does) you would have a gross income of £20,000 a year less all your costs.  So prices have to go up or making time extended at a risk to Janine’s health.

Very sensibly Janine is looking at developing her product

She still has technical  issues to overcome but she needs another product which is less labour intensive. It would be nice if it related closely to her mosaics because they are rather lovely

Works 4 days a week , income from sales about £500 this year, teaching fees are in addition to this figure

Photographer


David Wilson is a  black and white landscape photographer living and working in Wales. A family man, comfortably absorbed in his work, he lives life gently.

With a  non arts background and a business education he  makes a living from his photographs.

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Late Start

Wilson has talent, in fact he has a lot of talent and none of it is taught. He bought himself a camera in his teens and motorbiked round Pembrokeshire taking pictures. His parents and brother have no artistic interests,

My mother says she went home with the wrong kid, I don’t seem to have a  lot in common with them

For years Wilson did a dead-end, souless job in a Benefits Agency phone centre

When my wife asked ‘How was your day?’ I would say ‘It came, it went’ and she knew to say no more. It was a deadly dull job driving me slowly insane, a soul-destroying waste of time

I had to take time off sick because my neck began aching really badly and I thought Why would I even employ me?

Part of the reason that Wilson found himself trapped in a job he hated was that he had a terrible motorbike accident when he was 18.

The doctors were pretty convinced that was it, the only thing I could move was my face but I don’t think I comprehended what I’d done. My parents were brilliant but I came out mentally wrecked. They kept trying to get me to reconnect to life, I was loath to go out and expose myself to scrutiny

Finally he braved a two-year business course in his local college, and went on to do a business degree which led to  the string of lack lustre  office based jobs

Wilson concluded that he needed to do something for himself.

The idea of becoming a black and white landscape photographer seemed such a narrow niche, I felt it   couldn’t possibly work. It was a pipe dream like buying a lottery ticket, you hope to win but you don’t really expect it to happen

That was seven years ago now Wilson,45, has a well established business in fact he hasn’t really struggled. Helped in the early transition by being able to cut down his call centre hours incrementally

Its been a continuous upward curve, more and more outlets , more web print sales, a successful book and another in preparation.

Nor has he had to work long hours to achieve it.

I work an average week of 25 to 30 hours and I  don’t work weekends . On an average day I start 9ish and work till midday, take 2-3 hours off and work 2-3 hours in the afternoon. If  I am delivering I might do an 8 hour day and if I am going out to take photos I might start at 6 in the morning and go on till 10 at night

Last year Wilson made around £20,00 from £38,000 turnover which is more than he made from his office jobs and for far fewer hours. With an office 13 steps from his bed.

Three Reasons for Success

So why has success come so smoothly?

1. The first answer has to be talent.

2. Modesty of his financial needs

We are very low maintenance as a family, we don’t crave huge flat screen televisions, I have no iPad, it’s not that we consciously reign in our spending we just don’t need to spend a lot. Our happiness comes from an emotive response to books music and art.

Wilson,  his wife and two young sons live in a simple, painstakingly restored terraced fisherman’s cottage  in the quiet village of  Llangwm in Pembrokeshire. Behind the house lies the beautiful Cleddau Estuary

3. The business degree has paid off . Wilson constantly analyses the over all business picture. He regularly sits down with his wife and does a  SWOT evaluation of where he is and what he needs to do.

Any business, even a butcher’s shop, needs to take time out to formulate what they are doing and what they are going to do, if you don’t, you wont last very long

How to do a SWOT Evaluation

The idea is you identify Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats

So here  are the sorts of things Wilson said he would include in a review of  his own position :

Once you have reviewed where you are you have to think how you can improve your position. Much is obvious and specific ie approach a gallery in St Davids. Others are more general, such as  keep an edge on other photographers by producing flyers and having a marketing company supply them to tourist leaflet spinners.

The Books

Wilson has just finished his second book Landscapes of Wales which is due to be published by his Cardiff based publishers Graffeg in March 2012  It will be a bigger and thicker  book than his first with a forward by Griff Rhys Jones. It will sell for £35. Graffeg has also bumped up its distribution network

Wilson made about £10,000 from his first book on the landscapes of Pembrokeshire in a mixture of royalties, advance and selling bought in copies on his website, selling about 300 copies directly in its first year and about 100 in the second at a profit of £12.50 a book. It was backed by a £4000 grant from the Welsh Book Council and  had an initial print run of 3000 and a cover price of £25.

It is very rare  to get a book of landscapes published, so it’s very good for a photographer’s name to have a book.

Wilson is also a writer, his ‘ramblings ‘ as he calls it on each picture are exceptionally well written with a great natural directness as if he is just looking over your shoulder.

Taking the pictures and selling

In specialising in black and white landscapes Wilson says your compositional skills have to be spot on.

I walk round the location and take loads of images so I have it from many different angles I want it to be atmospheric and it needs to have some sort of narrative within it Then I down load the images and make a choice .

Wilson does his own printing, selling the prints through galleries and his own website

For a while he had packaging problems sending out his own prints to website customers. He has solved those by sending up to A3 sized prints out between two 20″ x 16″ mount boards  taped together and larger prints rolled in  a cardboard tube with cellophane over using Royal Mail First Class Recorded Delivery

He has  given up doing shows although they made money because

of the exhaustion of doing nothing Three days of treading 12 sq foot of pitch regurgitating the same stuff. Half way through the second day I switch off. I just can’t be bothered to do it anymore.

He has a successful website made for him by Buzinet six years ago at a cost of £1500 with a 50% grant from a business start-up scheme. He also pays about £48 a month to them to tweak his site to optimise its ranking.

Hours worked 25-30 a week  income about £20,000 a year