That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Amy Stewart (19). She discusses her business, Amy Stewart Art, her links with farming and a livestock mart, the Covid-19 pandemic’s positive impact on business growth and her international reach.
“I am from County Antrim, Northern Ireland and have lived here since birth. Despite not being from a farming background myself, many of my close friends are.
Ever since I was younger, I have been interested in drawing and anything crafty.
I was always very good at creating something from nothing and would spend hours at my kitchen table drawing and painting.
It was not until I got my first job working in a livestock mart that my eyes were really opened to the world of farming, and this was reflected in my work from that point.
I left school at 16 to complete a Level 3 BTEC in Industrial Art and Design, which was a two-year course.
Then, I moved on to complete a Level 3/4 extended foundation diploma in Art and Design, which I just finished this year.
Although these courses were not necessary to become an artist, they really helped me develop my skills and also allowed me to flourish in an environment that was full of other young creatives.
I cannot imagine myself doing anything else, and when it came to leaving school and figuring out what I wanted to do, art was always the most obvious choice.
No matter how hard it was going to be, I was always and still am going to make it work.
Irish farming plays a major role in my work. Many of my friends work on farms, and it was not until I went to help my friend, Lucy, on her family farm that I realised the level of work that goes into farming.
I prefer to look at the animals from afar. Also, I recently moved to a more rural area, and it is amazing being able to look out my window and see cows and sheep in the fields and to see the different tractors going up and down the lane.
There is honestly no way of telling how long a painting can take.
Some can take just a few hours if I get into a groove and do it all in one sitting, or some larger-scale paintings can take weeks to complete and multiple different sittings.
However, I have found that the more experienced I get, the faster I can complete a painting.
I love the moment that I finally finish a painting, and I can really step back and admire all the hours of work it into it.
I also love sharing my paintings online to see what others think.
My most common farm-themed paintings would be tractors.
Many people commission me to paint their own tractor, which I paint from a photo reference that they provide.
Also, I paint lots of farmyard animals and pets! Lots of people, including myself, have a real attachment to their pets, and it makes a nice keepsake to have a painting of them which will last forever.
I have my own studio that I work from. In the summer of 2021, I had to amazing opportunity to build my own workspace, and it has been extremely beneficial for my life as an artist.
I used to work from my bedroom at home, which was an absolute nightmare.
Paint ended up getting on nearly everything I owned, and I was just slowly outgrowing my small desk in the corner of my bedroom, so when I got the opportunity to have my own workspace, I was overjoyed.
There are several different ways to purchase my work. I have my own website that I launched within the last six months, or I have an Esty store where I am about ten sales away from reaching 1000 sales which would be a huge achievement for me.
I sell original paintings, along with other products such as keyrings, mugs, and placemats.
For anyone local to County Antrim, they can find me at many local craft fairs and shows.
For anyone interested in commissioning a painting from me, there are multiple different ways of getting in contact with me, including any socials like Instagram and Facebook, or by emailing me at [email protected].
You can also check out – https://amystewartart.myshopify.com/ – and – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/amyxstewart?ref=shop_sugg
Target audience and prices
Custom paintings range anywhere from £25 upwards. I try to keep my prices as low and affordable as I can, as I want art to be accessible for everyone.
Furthermore, I think that my target audience would be anyone interested in agriculture.
I want to make art more accessible for everyone and help merge the art world with the agricultural one.
Thanks to the power of social media, I can showcase my work to a wide number of people.
Because of this, I have also been commissioned by people all around the work, including the USA and Australia.
It is unbelievable to think that paintings are hanging up on a wall all the way in Australia.
My business really took flight during the pandemic. This came down to me being left with an absurd amount of spare time, like many others, due to the lockdown.
During the first lockdown was when I began my Facebook page and completed commissions for friends, which ended up spiralling into what my business is today.
I think to be a successful artist, you really must have a lot of passion for art.
Some days it can be hard to get motivated to complete a painting, and it was definitely hard at the beginning to get my work noticed, which was disheartening, but my love for art and painting was what encouraged me to continue.
Along with just painting, you need to have a certain skill level in many other areas such as marketing and IT.
It can be a difficult industry; you need to push your work and what you do to get people listening to your story and noticing your work.
However, I have grown up with social media nearly my entire life, so it was easy for me to showcase my work via this method.
However, I sympathise with those who find social media difficult to work with. Along with this, it can be extremely time-consuming.
I would love to be able to create art full-time, as I have just finished my course and am still working part-time whilst creating art.
If I could turn back the clock, I do not think I would do anything differently. My business has grown just as I have, and it is amazing to look back at where I started just a few years ago.
I am so appreciative of how much my business has grown so far, and I honestly cannot thank everyone enough who has purchased or commissioned a painting from me in the past.
Moreover, I am so excited for the future and to see what other projects I will be tasked with.
Within the future, I am also eager to get out and meet other artists within the community.”
To share your story, email – [email protected]
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