GSM London programme leader on the Business Management with Creative Industries degree, Ann Healey continues her interview with Clare Goodman on her experience within a creative industry and the difficulties of business and managing in this sector. This interview is part of Ann’s strategy to bring the experiences and challenges of creative business into the classroom.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey that lead you to where you are today.
My journey started 30 years ago when I left school with very few qualifications and I went to art college to do a foundation course. Up until that time I had believed I was not very good at anything except drawing and that I wasn’t very bright. Art college proved to be a turning point for me as I was surrounded by creative people and we studied a range of subjects (history, design, sciences) but from an arts perspective. I hadn’t really engaged with school but art college caught my interest and imagination. I went on to study successfully for a fine art degree. However, I was at a loss for how to use my knowledge and skills when I left university. I ended up working as a care assistant in a nursing home for people with mental health issues. I really enjoyed encouraging the residents at the home to engage in activities. Other staff suggested that I train as an occupational therapist and that was the start of a 26 year career in health care. I got side-tracked away from art and creativity but that all changed 5 years ago when I started doing pottery and ceramics as a form of stress relief. Now I have my own studio and am using my creative skills and my therapist skills to run art groups and teach children and adults the joys of working with clay.
What are you most proud of, creatively, to date?
Building my own studio and developing my own creative style. I am really proud that despite my lack of confidence when I first left university at 21, I have finally reach my goal of making a living out of being creative.
How much focus do you place on the ‘business’ of your industry and how much on ‘creating’? and how do you juggle both your creative and business hats?
Both of these things are vital. I need time to focus on my own work but I also need to build my business and make sure people are aware of my work. It’s not a 9-5 job but that’s part of the appeal.
What do you know now, that you wish you had known when you started out in this industry?
I wish I had realised when I first left art college that I had skills other people needed, and I wish I had known how to market those skills. However, I am glad that I can now combine the skills i gained as a therapist with my creativity so I don’t regret going off on that tangent.
Have there ever been times when you have been tempted to give up and if so, how have you dealt with this?
I think I gave up too soon when I left art college. Now I have a second chance at a creative career I am more focused and determined.
People often perceive the creative industries as glamorous. What’s the least glamorous part of your job?
Clay is messy and working with it is quite physical. Certain firing techniques are dirty and smoky so there is nothing particularly glamorous about that.
What would you like to do, (or who would you like to work with) that you haven’t yet been able to, so far?
I just want to get as good as I possibly can both in terms of creativity and the technical skills that bring my ideas into being.
How important is it to be able to connect with your audience via platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook?
These platforms have been vital in bringing my work to a wider audience. They didn’t exist when I first left university and I am having to learn a whole new way of promoting my work.
If you had one superpower for a day, what would it be and what would you do?
If it was just for one day I think I’d like to be able to fly. I love birds, crows in particular as they are extremely bright but often maligned. I would like to fly with them and learn more about how they live and behave. If I could have a superpower for longer it would be the ability to breathe fire so that I could fire my work. I think that would be quite a spectacle!
How can people keep up with what you are doing?
I am on Instagram as: @waysideclare
Facebook page: “Wayside Pottery”