When the pandemic hit, pastel artist Nina Squire, from Blandford, knew she’d have to change her way of working and fast – suddenly the professional artist of 20 years couldn’t go to the shows she loved so much, meaning less commission work, so she pivoted her business to go online.
She said: “Suddenly everything changed, and I had to quickly learn lots of new technology fast. Luckily, I think we were all learning at that point, so everyone understood if there was a technical issue.”
Nina was accepted as an Associate Artist with Unison Colour, a UK-based handmade pastel producer, during Lockdown One. This led to her workshops being given a global platform. She will soon be travelling to London to represent Unison Colour as part of a series of videos on art techniques for a series of ‘in conversation with’ workshops with Jackson’s Art.
Stuck inside during Lockdown One, Nina started streaming live draw-alongs, where she would draw her favourite views, so that people could join her and draw with her. The idea was so popular that Nina has been able to pivot her business and now has a thriving community of budding artists from across the world.
She said: “It’s been wonderful to see this community develop and watch their amazing art works come to life. It has been brilliant to bring a bit of joy to people’s lives throughout the past year. Lots of people have said how much they enjoy my workshops each week. It’s given people a bit of escapism – it’s a lovely activity to get lost in for a few hours”
With all the new skills she had to learn and needing to suddenly restructure her work and have a shop on her website, Nina reached out to Get Set for Growth East Dorset for help and advice. Through one-to-one mentoring Nina was able to get help and advice about how best to change her website so that she could use it to sell her art courses through.
“It was really helpful, having someone else to listen, bounce ideas off and get advice from has been brilliant. It gives you a different perspective and that’s what you need.”
Whereas before Nina would teach 15 people in a village hall in Wimborne, now she regularly teaches hundreds online from as far away as New Zealand, California and Australia. She also has regulars from Dorset joining in or watching back later. She said: “I think people love the convenience of being able to do art from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them. I love to see everyone’s work in the community group.”