Emma-Leigh Hayes is a freelance Watercolour, Acrylic and Digital artist living in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. She creates custom art for her clients, be that painting the beloved family pet or a secret mushroom forest. Here in her first Guest Blog for BabaBaboon Emma-Leigh shares her experience of starting a full-time arts business during a pandemic.

“Art has always been a solace for me in my day to day life. When I was young my mum would encourage me to be creative. I always had art sets, art books, art supplies, and copious amounts of PVA glue to work with. I remember making toilet roll castles that I was so proud of I’d bring them into school to show my friends – I’m pretty sure it’s still in the attic somewhere.

“When went to secondary school I studied art at GCSE, and loved every second of it. I’d spend all my lunch times in the art room working on my projects, painting, and feeling secure. In college I studied photography, and again was so inspired by the works of other artists and photographers that I still love to work on my photography today. At age 18 I left Leicester to attend Staffordshire University where I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Print Journalism. Studying so far away from home was stressful for me, so I had to come up with ways to keep my mind occupied when my anxiety began to creep in.

“I bought myself some new watercolour paints, some brushes and paper, and began to create. It soothed my mind and made me feel right again, especially after the stress of working on my degree. I wasn’t very good, but I was determined to get better. Fast forward five years… I’ve been working on my skills, getting better, and learning all the time. I can now call myself a professional artist and not feel like an impostor when saying it!

Giraffe acrylic

“My inspiration comes from wildlife and nature, something I’ve come to respect greatly in my years working alongside animals. Most of my work is bright and colourful, whimsical and fantastical. I love fantasy and imagination, and the things our minds can come up with that don’t have a basis on reality. I take inspiration from everything around me, turning the mundane into something far more interesting. Tiny goblins on a forest floor, or a witch growing mushrooms on her body, it all has a little bit of me inside of it. A touch of how my mind works.

“When lockdown hit in March of 2020, I was at a loss. I had no idea what to do, I was stuck on Universal Credit and struggling mentally. I was lost in my own mind, battling my depression and anxiety on a daily basis, when a friend asked me why I don’t sell my work. I had to give it a good long think to come up with a valid reason, and when I found nothing I decided… what the heck, let’s do it. I contacted The Prince’s Trust in the summer of 2020 and started my journey to becoming a young entrepreneur. I created my own kickstarter, raised money for equipment, and finally launched my business on September 1 2020 –  and Fragment Crafting was born.

“I make bespoke art for my clients, canvas portraits of animals, watercolour houses, stickers, prints, and I’ve even become an illustrator for a children’s book called Thea Daze Reports by Jemima Bee (out now on Amazon Kindle). I run my own website, social media and behind the scenes operations. I am independent and loving every second of it.

“I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve been given over this past year, I couldn’t have done it without my family, friends, and the support of my Prince’s Trust mentor, Mike.

“Who knows what’s next for me, but I do know this. I’m going to make people smile while I do it.”

Thank you for reading my first Guest Blog on BabaBaboon – Emma-Leigh –  Fragment Crafting  Follow on Instagram, Tiktok and Facebook pages @FragmentCrafting

**Emma-Leigh’s next Guest Blog will be out in May.

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