1 How did you get your start?
I sold my specialist product supply business in 1999 and, shortly after, I began to look for something to keep me occupied. I had always loved the work of LS Lowry, so I started buying his paintings and I quickly discovered other northern artists such as Theodore Major, Alan Lowndes and William Turner, and bought their work as well. I worked at first from home and used the marketing skills from previous work to promote my new business. It took off very quickly.
2 What is the first sale you remember making?
The first Lowry painting I bought in 1999 was The Cricket Match. I paid £200,000 for it. Four months later I sold it to a famous cricket fan for £400,000, making me think that this could be an interesting business to keep me occupied in my ‘retirement’. Here I am 19 years later.
3 What is a change you would like to see in the trade?
A reduction in the number of fake artworks being sold. I see a large number of such pictures – about eight out of 10 ‘Lowrys’ brought into the gallery are fake. A number of these have been bought at auction, some from dealers. I appreciate it is difficult for a non-specialist to authenticate works by artists they don’t specialise in, but there are many sources of expertise within the trade.
4 What is an effective way to meet clients in your market?
We promote the gallery through a variety of media. We have just finished another successful campaign on Smooth Radio and we have 30-second adverts on That’s Manchester, the local TV channel. We use social media, too, particularly Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram. We produce high-quality catalogues and have published four books on northern art.
5 Real ale or espresso martini?
I’m from the north, so real ale.
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