Winner of our Church Street prize, a £100 e-voucher, for submitting her business plan (randomly pulled out of a hat!) is Rosalind Hobley, an artist creating stunning cyanotype portraits and images from her studio in Westminster. Rosalind has been on our business planning course and we were blown away by her beautiful pictures. Let’s meet her….
TS: Hi Rosalind, congratulations! So what involvement have you had with Tree Shepherd?
I have done a business planning course with one of Tree Shepherd’s trainers, and am currently working with another trainer, Lorenzo, who has been giving very helpful suggestions about how to move my business forward. It has been a great mix of very practical business planning advice and more general coaching to overcome obstacles.
TS: Tell us about your history with Westminster – what brought you to the area?
I have lived in Westminster for about 30 years, first living here with friends and then family. I have lived in the Church St Ward for 20 years. I love this area and the people that live and work here.
TS: What’s your business?
I am an artist and I sell prints created with an 19th century photographic process called ‘Cyanotype’. My subjects are portraits, swimmers, and still lifes. The prints look a bit like paintings because of the treatment of the light and shadows, plus the brushstrokes at the edges.
TS: How do you make them?
I make my prints by hand. I carefully mix up two chemicals with water and paint the solution onto watercolour paper in low light. When dry I put the coated paper in the sun, sandwiched under glass with a large format negative. After several minutes I wash the print and watch the blue image emerge. I always get excited watching the image form under the running water. (You can see this happening on my Instagram story highlights.)
I post all my latest work and behind the scenes stories on my Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/rosalindhobley/ and an overview of my work and contact details here: https://www.rosalindhobley.com/cyanotype-prints.
TS: How are you developing your business?
Marketing and development has mainly been via Instagram. I began posting there more regularly during lockdown, and spent some time exploring the community of artists there. Many artists were selling work via the ‘Artist Support Pledge.’ This initiative was created by a painter called Matthew Burrows. The pledge is that artists offer paintings, prints or sculpture for £200 or less, and when they have sold £1000 worth of work they promise to buy something from another artist for £200.
I found that I was able to sell my prints to other artists and art collectors. It was good market research as I could see what kind of artworks people liked and wanted to buy and what the average price was for different kinds of work.
I plan to continue to post my work on Instagram and on my website, whilst also beginning to approach small galleries and shops to see if they will show the prints.
There has been some interest from curators and publications. Currently I have a number of pieces in the winter ‘Art on a Postcard’ auction. Additionally, Outdoor Swimmer magazine is currently featuring one of my artworks in their November issue, and I am talking to an interiors shop about stocking my prints in the spring.
I am planning to have an exhibition of larger prints of swimmers next year.
TS: When did you start up?
I studied art at college, and worked as many different things since then. I have been working as a portrait photographer for about 15 years. Selling original prints is relatively new, but I have been working on personal projects for many years.
TS: How did you come up with this idea?
The recent series of swimmer prints is from an idea that has been at the back of my mind for several years. I love swimming and often swim at Marshall St and Seymour pools in Westminster.
Last year I took some photos of friends in various pools and have been waiting for a chance to make them into cyanotypes, a process I learned from a very skilled printer called Terry King about 20 years ago. When lockdown started I bought a large stock of chemicals, film and paper and started work, exposing the prints on my tiny balcony and washing them in the bathroom.
I felt that the beauty and abstraction of the cyanotypes as well as the colour made them perfect for the swimming series.
TS: How has lockdown been?
Although I found it useful for me to find a new direction with the prints, and to spend some time with my family, I literally cannot wait for it to be over!
TS: So £100 e-voucher – what are you going to spend it on?
I have some ideas for Christmas presents. I am also getting a new desk so I can continue working from home over the winter. Thank you very much – I was delighted to hear that I had won.
A note from our CEO, Colin Crooks, ” Congratulations Rosalind on all your success, and getting in Outdoor Swimmer, that’s fantastic news! We’re here to keep supporting you and we look forward to see what happens next. Enjoy spending your voucher!”
A bit about Tree Shepherd in Westminster….
Tree Shepherd in partnership with the City of Westminster is working with the local community and existing market traders to keep the market vibrant as it adjusts to the day to day changes brought on by construction work and develop new services that respond to the expectations of the thousands of new residents and visitors that are expected to be attracted to the area in the coming years. We have been working with residents and community in Church Street since January 2019 to provide business guidance, workshops and clinics to traders and local start-ups.
We also continue to offer:
• 1 to 1 mentoring to help traders through a period of change
• training on planning, marketing & cash flow forecasts
• information on finance and funding
Find out more about our work in Church Street here