Teaching Art set for record year as consumers discover joy of creativity

Teaching Art CEO Carl Gamble
Teaching Art CEO Carl Gamble


Teaching Art, the Newark-based art supplies business, is enjoying its best ever year as consumers spend more time at home and rediscover the joys of creativity.

The company – which also runs the world’s biggest artists’ club, the SAA – has seen sales direct to the public rise by 33% and together with its trade sales to retailers such as Hobbycraft and Ryman, is now on course to break the £10m turnover barrier for the first time.

In addition to its exclusive online art courses for SAA members, Teaching Art has been offering a number of free resources during the pandemic and running a public art competition to raise the nation’s morale. It has also launched new services during the year such as the online children’s course, Ready Steady Paint. The company, which employs 65 staff in Newark and at its warehouse in Salford, is backed by private equity firm PHD Equity Partners.

Carl Gamble, the company’s CEO, predicts we are on course for a ‘crafty Christmas’ with more home-made cards and gifts and says there are signs of a more lasting shift in values. “The pandemic has created a new interest in art. Some people are trying it for the first time, others have enjoyed art in the past and are rediscovering it,” he says.

“Meanwhile existing artists now have more time on their hands and are experimenting with new techniques – so regulars who buy watercolours are trying other mediums such as pastels or oils. Art creates a feel good factor – you can immerse yourself in it and it will keep you going when normal life is taken away. Evidence shows creative hobbies are beneficial for our mental health.”

Government statistics released this week show that people have had more spare time during the pandemic and were spending on average 16 minutes a day on hobbies during the first lockdown in March and 11 minutes a day in early October, before the second lockdown.

Carl, a former Next executive who himself has taken up painting for the first time in recent months adds: “We are not rushing around all the time like we were before. If there is one positive thing that has come out of this, it’s that it’s made people appreciate the value of spending more quality time doing things that make you happy. I don’t think that’s something we will want to give up.”

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