Natasha Jade is a travel inspired commission artist based in East London. She graduated from Sussex University with a degree in Mathematics (BSc). After doing a degree which was not particularly inspiring to her, she was determined to make a living out of doing something that stimulated her creatively and gave her immense pleasure and satisfaction.
1. How did you get to where you are right now as an artist?
I sold my first painting at the age of 15, and since then I have always had commissions from friends or friends of friends. At university, throughout my whole degree, I painted whenever I had a spare moment, finishing commissions on holidays and at weekends. After uni I went to India and Nepal for a year and a half. During this time I would paint as I travelled and send the paintings back to my Mum in London. She would then sell the paintings which funded my travels! When I came back to London, I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I decided to get a studio in Hackney and carry on painting. One commission led to another. I formed a collective with two new friends I met at Hackney Downs Studios and we put on a big pop-up exhibition in Mayfair. Since then I have sold over 50 paintings and launched my own product line!
2. Do you think it is important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
As someone who studied Mathematics as their degree, I think it’s useful to have a formal education but you don’t necessary have to study art to be an artist. I always felt that being an artist was something that was a part of me, so I wanted to study something completely different instead. Even though my degree was far from easy and I can’t say I enjoyed it all of the time, in retrospect I do think it has really helped me to combine art with business.
3. Describe a typical day for you.
I wake up at 5:30am, I have a cup of Oolong tea (in a bowl!) and then I travel to my yoga studio for 6:15am where I practice with my teacher daily. I then come home, have a superfood smoothie and cycle to the studio for 9am. I usually spend the first hour catching up on emails, then depending on which projects I have on, or who from my team is in the studio, I immerse myself in a project until about 1pm. We usually have lunch as a team until 2pm, I make more tea after lunch (this time in a mug!) and then work until about 6:30pm.
4. Who or what inspires you?
In terms of art and creativity, I am hugely inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle who creates amazing vibrant sculptures using a wide variety of mixed materials. I spent much of my childhood summers getting lost in her sculpture garden in Tuscany.
5. How do you get clients?
Most of my commissions come through recommendations, however, if I think a certain company may be interested in a corporate commission I approach them and quite often they go ahead. In terms of my products, I have a wonderful sales assistant who spends lots of time searching the London streets to scout and approach potential stockists. We also have stands at trade shows and consumer fairs as well as having regular open studios.
6. What has been the highlight of your career as an artist so far?
One of the highlights of my career was when I had to do a really scary pitch/presentation to top businessmen. After the presentation, one of them gave some amazing feedback and said that my presentation stood out as exceptional! Another of my highlights was when I was commissioned by a law firm in Central London to create a painting of their Soho Street. The painting is on display in their shop window and people often send me photos of them standing beside it!
7. Have you had any career disappointments as an artist? If yes, how did you overcome them?
Often I have months that are tricky financially, other times it can disappointing when a shop we have pitched to doesn’t make an order, for whatever reason. But these difficult times always push me to make changes to the way I’m doing things, to make improvements, or change direction which often turns out to be a blessing as it opens up new opportunities.
8. What is your dream art project?
My dream project would be to create a massive New York cityscape for a big corporate firm with massive white walls!
9. Do you have any advice for any emerging or aspiring artists?
My advice to emerging artists would be to strike a good balance between business and creativity as I think both are equally important and benefit one another. I would also say – don’t give up when things get tough, as often something really good is just around the corner. I’ve had so many ups and downs that I’ve started to see a pattern! I would also recommend surrounding yourself with creative people who are working hard and doing inspiring things as you learn so much from people around you.
10. What's next for you?
I’ve been doing a lot of corporate commissions and I’m hoping to get my new product range into some well known high street stores. I’m also aiming to introduce a new exciting product into my range next year!