Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to artist Andrew Sinclair, owner of Resipole Studios Fine Art Gallery in Ardnamurchan.
How and why did you start in business?
I was brought up on a working farm near Acharacle, in Ardnamurchan. My parents had diversified into tourism, so from the very start there was a huge range of things going on around me, something that continues to this day. Seeing my parents working hard definitely instilled a strong work ethic in me too.
My love of drawing developed from an early age and art has been a huge passion of mine ever since. It led me to art college, and I graduated in fine art from Duncan of Jordanstone College, Dundee, in 1996.
After returning to the farm I initially balanced life as an artist with work as a self-employed agricultural contractor. But from the outset I had always thought “why should you have to be in urban areas to enjoy high-quality art? Why not experience it in one of the most inspirational parts of the UK?”
The arts were calling me and I decided to focus all my energies on them by going full time – it was my chance to put the theory into practice. So it was that in 2004 I converted an old agricultural byre on the farm into a multi-faceted art space, Resipole Studios Fine Art Gallery, and it has paid off beautifully.
How did you get to where you are today?
Sheer determination. I believe passionately that if you believe in what you are doing and produce consistently high quality in everything you do, over time it will lead to a strong reputation.
Certainly, in the early days of my career as an artist I had tough times but, as the saying goes, an artist needs to be hungry to produce great work. The same can be said for Resipole Studios Fine Art Gallery.
Being open to change and willing to adapt has helped it develop into an award-winning small business that hosts international exhibitions, represents more than 50 artists and sells artwork all around the world.
Who helped you?
First and foremost, my family have been a huge inspiration and influence. My mum sparked the initial creative interest in me from her own drawings, and my friends, family, and especially my wife, Sue, feature in many of my portrait paintings.
Living on the family farm continues to imbue me with a can-do attitude and love of problem-solving, and it gave me the confidence – or stupidity – to completely restore the shell of the old byre into what it is today. Learning on the job really helps you understand how things work and go together.
Thanks must also go to the Scottish Government’s diversification scheme, without which the renovation would not have been possible, and I joined the Federation of Small Businesses because of the excellent partnership deals and advice that it offers.
What has been your biggest mistake?
I was invited to be a portrait artist on a cruise liner and turned it down, but was it a mistake or narrow escape? I’ll never know – but as long as you learn from them, I believe mistakes are an important part of life.
What is your greatest achievement?
Getting to a place where I can support my family by doing the one thing I have always had a passion for. Seeing my children’s love of art and creativity grow is very rewarding too.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I’d give the creative sector the respect and support it deserves.
What do you still hope to achieve?
To continue to develop my painting as an artist and broaden the gallery’s reach on an international level.
What do you do to relax?
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I’m re-watching Parks and Recreation and enjoying Radio Paradise, a superb radio station.
What do you waste your money on?
Lego – it’s great having kids.
How would your friends describe you?
I hope they see me as caring, thoughtful and creative, with a can-do attitude.
What would your enemies say about you?
I’ve put the curse of the West Highlands’ “evil eye” on them, so they can’t say anything.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I currently drive a VW T5 Transporter, which is practical for both my family and the business, but I dream of one day owning a vintage VW Karmann Ghia.