University of Brighton Careers Blog

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Meet our startups: Bronwyn Celeste Art

In this spot where we explore some of the businesses we’ve supported, University of Brighton International Event Management graduate, Bronwyn Celeste, shares her journey from student to artist.

“My name is Bronwyn and I studied International Event Management at the University of Brighton. I started my business in my year off from university – after I had worked at a ranch in Canada for the spring/summer season and was waitressing over the fall/winter. The new apartment I moved into had a large, empty wall at the end of the living room, and I wanted to fill the space with a painting that would bring me joy.

Beginnings

I painted the abstract piece in my friend’s studio, and soon realized that I should make an entire series to show and sell. After a 7-year hiatus of self-taught painting, I realized I needed to dig into my gift and use it to bring others joy, too.

Debunking  myths

Three years later I have finished my degree in the height of the pandemic, moved back and forth from Canada and England, received an entrepreneurial visa through the UK government to get my business rolling in the UK and travelled upwards of 20,000 miles in the last year for my work!

It’s no secret that the pandemic has been challenging and even detrimental to businesses across the globe, especially those in sectors that have been deemed ‘non-essential’ (hello! The arts is what kept everyone entertained when no one could leave home!). In addition to that, when you’re providing a service that doesn’t help save money, put food on the table or help in day-to-day tasks during an economic crisis, it’s easy to get in your own head and think that your skills and talents aren’t ‘good enough’ to earn you a living.

I’m here to tell you that’s utter nonsense. I have been able to accommodate clients not having as much ‘fun money’  to spend by creating eye catching prints and cards. While one card alone does not measure up to a painting when sold, it makes a difference when a large amount of people can afford one card. And don’t think for one-minute markets are beneath you! I have benefited greatly from being set up for markets and meeting new clients face-to-face. Many of these clients have been tourists from other nations; I now have my work in Australia, Dominican Republic, the USA, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada and across the UK.

The power of face-to-face

I chose to capitalize on outdoor markets this past summer and have seen commissions and large painting sales generated from simply being in the right place, ready to engage with future clients.

As one Australian tourist said to me: ‘I wasn’t going to buy anything, but now that I’ve been speaking with you face-to-face, I want to support you.’

Help from beepurple

I would like to acknowledge the help I received from beepurple with moving my business forward in the UK. I had already started my business in my gap year but had to put it on hold because of my return for my final year of university. I was then able to tap into the resources they provided (thanks Clare and team!) which allowed me to move forward developing Bronwyn Celeste Art. Alongside the great coaching, I received some #SantanderUniUK grant money which allowed me to put time into business planning instead of trying to juggle a part-time job and push the business to the side.

Marketing

My favourite way to reach customers is through face-to-face interactions. I intentionally place myself in situations where I will meet new clients where I am able to demonstrate my skills in a real, tangible way. A lot of my sales happen because of my live painting at venues/festivals/events. Additionally, having stalls at markets is another great seller for my products both large and small. Of course, I have an Instagram specifically for my art, as well as a website that I created. These are important to have as most people who see me will ask if they can look at other things, I have for sale online. I find it most helpful to stick to one social media platform (Instagram) and a website and focus on those – I’ve tried using Facebook as well as TikTok simultaneously with the above two and became overwhelmed and demotivated to post anything at all. Pick two and stay strong with them!

The future

My plans for Bronwyn Celeste Art are abundant.  I currently have a series on the former residential schools of Canada for aboriginal children about to be shown across the USA. These schools stretched across North America and are also known as ‘Indian Boarding Schools’  in the United States. This series is about raising awareness of cultural genocide with the Native American peoples. My plan for this tour, which I’m trying to crowdfund for (please help!), is to bring it overseas after it tours through North America. The purpose behind my art is about developing and maintaining healthy thought patterns for anyone who engages with my work. From social justice issues to our own beliefs about ourselves, let my paintings strike truth and hope into anyone who lays eyes on them.

My top tips

  1. Ask questions! There are  incredible staff  at @uobbeepurple who are literally getting paid to help you: it’s their job. I promise they aren’t working this job because they’re being forced with no other option – they want to be here, and they want to work with you.
  2. Apply for competitions!! I wouldn’t have got through if I didn’t have the financial support from the generous Santander grants (amongst others). It is absolutely 100% worth your time to apply!
  3. Shove that fear back to its fiery depths and seize the day. You’re going to fail. If you can’t accept that, I have bad news – you’re not going very far as an entrepreneur. It’s part of life, and it’s certainly part of being an entrepreneur. YOU WILL FAIL. And… YOU WILL SUCCEED, TOO.
  4. As my coach is always telling me: ‘you get more information when you fail on what not to do next time.’

If you want it, go for it. Just know that there’s not a single entrepreneur out there that breezed their way through, and that social media doesn’t present the true! Your struggles don’t mean you’re not doing anything right, and your successes don’t mean it’s all downhill from there! Lean on your community around you, and if you can’t… find new community!!

@bronwyn.celeste.art

@uobbeepurple

Book an appointment with the beepurple team

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Helen Carley • 19/04/2023


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