Morning! Today I feature Natalie Rymer whose paintings I came across on Facebook about three months ago. I just love her work; it is textural and vibrant - full of colour and pattern.
How did you start your business and why? I have always been interested in Art, both my parents are Artists and I studied Fine Art at A-level, going straight onto complete a BTEC National Diploma at Reigate School of Art followed by a BA Hons degree in Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art in London. Having finished at Wimbledon, I needed a break from Painting, with my now husband, we moved back to Sevenoaks, Kent and purchased a run down Victorian house and renovated it over several years. We then had 2 children over the next few years, and my life was filled with parenting duties and bringing up my 2 daughters which I loved.
How did things take off ? I started to help out with Art classes at their schools and we moved to a farm cottage in the countryside which had a large studio in the gardens backing onto fields. This inspired me to start painting again, I also submitted some card designs to Phoenix Trading and had a fine art painting “Full Sail” accepted as my first printed card. I continued to work with Phoenix for several years designing around 10 cards for their ranges. I also opened my studio as part of the SEOS South East Open Studios scheme and took part in an Art Auction for a charity in London. As I had started to build up a body of work, I looked for avenues to start to sell these and came across ArtGallery.co.uk. My early philosophy was to sell mainly watercolours at very affordable prices so that anyone could afford to purchase my work, and I began to build a customer base and began to work up the Art Gallery best sellers list to the top 10. I expanded my range to include Acrylic paintings on canvas but kept prices affordable to help attract custom. With the development of social media I already had a private Facebook page, and it then became obvious to develop a business facebook page and I started to advertise my work on www.facebook.com/NatalieRymerArt this ticked over and I gained around 30 or so followers but never really selling. We had just had a lovely Christmas but money was tight in January 2013 and I felt I really wanted to help out my family. Then one day in early January I all of a sudden started to pick up more followers on my business Facebook page and I couldn’t believe my eyes that by the end of the day my site had grown to a few hundred followers. Then it just seemed to take off and through my site being shared by my followers my numbers started to grow and grow. I started to sell my work and my site became more active as followers were spreading the word and I was receiving very positive feedback.
Is your business full or part time? I work full time on my business, 24/7, I am always available and always thinking about my business, I tweet and post all day every day interacting with all my followers and clients. Do you intend to grow your business into something bigger…? I would like to continue to grow my business and my artwork to be always available to all who are interested, whether that be original paintings, prints, greetings cards or other products. I value all my customers. Where do you sell your work? I sell my work direct through my Facebook page and am in the process of relaunching my own website. I also sell my work through selected Art Galleries such as D’Art Gallery(Dartmouth) Lyndhurst Gallery (New Forest) Rye Gallery (East Sussex) Moree Gallery (Australia) The Art Agency (Surrey). I am also working with some new galleries such as The Janet Bell Gallery (Anglesey) , I have been asked to work with more but at the moment demand is outstripping supply. Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you and why?Primarily Facebook enables me to interact with my followers, sell direct, and pass clients onto Galleries, whilst sharing my interests in other artists, materials, etc using it like a scrapbook of my work life. I think that my attitude to valuing every follower and taking time to respond and interact with them helps to build a rapport with my customers, I now have nearly 6000 followers many of whom I have built friendships with via facebook.
Have you had publicity in National Magazines?To date, I haven’t had any National magazine publicity, however I have been featured in a few regional magazines and online with The Examiner, I hope to build on this and would love to feature in magazines such as Country Living, and Interiors magazines. Who do you think your typical customer is ?I think I have a broad range of customers, which include fellow artists. I am often asked for paintings for Birthday or Anniversary gifts or to mark a special occasion. I am moved by the reasons my clients give for buying my art, which often relate to the effect of the colour used in my work, one very touching example which I will never forget was a lady who bought a painting for her husband whose sight was failing and who was also suffering from dementia. I was overwhelmed to hear when my painting was hung on their wall he showed a response and reacted to the painting, this really makes my work so rewarding and worthwhile.Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? It is always tough starting a new painting, I imagine it is like climbing a mountain and it is a long journey where you put things in, take things out, add things you like but find they don’t work in the painting and save that idea for another. I find it impossible to work on several paintings at a time as I become immersed in the painting I am creating until I am satisfied it is finished. I love working with colour and pattern and exploring new colour combinations and creating patterns, for me the best paintings tend to be those that just work spontaneously. Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?My only regret is leaving my Garden Studio in Kent before my business had really taken off, it would have been the perfect space to paint, package, and I would have loved to run workshops and show clients around. I am looking forward to finding or creating another similar space as my business grows.Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?Typically, my work is instinctive and spontaneous which is part of my persona, but I do have goals and I have achieved many in the last year which I initially would not have felt possible. These include working with Woodmansterne and Whistlefish (Milkwood Publishing) showing in galleries I love such as Rye Gallery in Sussex and working with the lovely Moree Gallery in Australia, I am thankful to all the galleries that support my work especially The D’art Gallery in Dartmouth who really helped and pushed me into producing more and larger pieces to a wider range of customers. I hope to visit the gallery at some point.This year I have also plucked up the courage to submit a painting to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? I don’t employ anyone at the moment although it is something I have thought about recently. Sometimes it is really difficult to keep up with things, and I really like to spend my time Painting. Aspects such as packaging, book keeping, posting take an enormous amount of time, fortunately my husband is very supportive and we are often packaging work late into the evenings. It really is a full time job!
Could you describe where you work, are you alone or with others, do you feel the way it is is the best fit for you or do you see it changing? My studio is a room downstairs in my house looking out onto my garden. I work on my own which I am happy doing, I would like to explore making my studio bigger in the future so that I have room to work on larger paintings. Do you have a mentor or people you are able to discuss your business with?My parents are my mentors as far as my artwork is concerned, both are artists and it helps to bounce ideas and talk about my work with them. I like to involve my husband in the business side of my work, he helps with my accounts, my websites and investigating new projects for my work. What is a typical day for you? I like to start the day by taking my daughters to school in the morning, I start work having done a couple of housework jobs first thing, settling into my artwork from 9.30-10am. If I am starting a new painting the night before I will have prepared the canvas, I check references from artists that I am looking at and I start my work, never with a real plan but spontaneously putting my ideas onto the canvas. I really like listening to radio 4 extra while I work, I enjoy the stories and comedies. I fit lunch around my work, unless my husband is home when we like to have a lunch break at Pooh Corner Tea Rooms. Sometimes I wrap orders ready to post while my mornings painting is drying and in the afternoon I am back at my easel until my children come home from school. I check my social media sites, and I usually start the dinner, then return to my studio. In the summer months in the light evenings when my husband returns from work, we take our dog, Dotty the Dalmation out for a walk around the countryside often stopping to take photos to use in my work. We have some spectacular views living in East Sussex and Ashdown Forest is on our doorstep. After Dinner, I often go back to my studio and check my Facebook news and interact with my followers and continue with my paintings – there is often a deadline to meet for a client or a gallery, and I will then start preparing my work for the next day.
Thank you so much for sharing your work process with us Natalie, truly inspiring. I particularly like that you identified publishers and galleries with whom you'd like to work and worked your way steadily towards achieving everything you intended to; no doubt you will be able to have your ideal studio again soon.Please see more of Natalie's work via the links below.