Animal prints, bespoke gifts and homeware delights are just a few of the original items you will find at Matt Robson Artwork. Nicole Wood recently sat down with the young and talented artist turned entrepreneur to discuss the opening of his third gallery…
Growing up, Matt Robson was always passionate about art – and with the rolling. Northumberland landscape surrounding him, inspiration was never too far away.
Putting pencil to paper, Matt discovered his love was more than just a hobby – it was an incredible talent. “It all started to get serious for me when I was about 11,” he explains.
“While I was still in school, I exhibited at Alnmouth Arts Festival and this was the first step for me. I never envisioned I would make a career out of this, I was just doing what I loved. Following that, I exhibited my work at small art events and country shows until the end of 2019 when, at age 16, I opened my first gallery.
“Being based in Alnwick, it seemed like the perfect location to open up my first gallery. Things really started to take off. The footfall was great due to the popularity of surrounding attractions like the Alnwick Gardens and Alnwick Castle. I grew my business developing new products and designs and the natural next step was to open up my second gallery based in Morpeth.
“Lockdown forced some spare time on me. I couldn’t retail in-store, so it was online only and it seemed like the perfect time to get things up and running for when time allowed.”
So with two blossoming art galleries, oodles of online orders, and commissions coming in regularly, how did the third gallery come to fruition? The new and exciting adventure in Amble happened pretty spontaneously, Matt tells me.
“Things were pretty busy, but when I was approached about the space, it seemed silly not to take advantage.
“Each gallery – despite selling the same items and all located pretty close to one another – offers something completely new.
“Each location attracts a different audience who are interested in different things. In Morpeth, a lot of the stag and pheasant pieces are popular, Alwnick seems to be a mixture of everything, and in Amble it’s more of the oystercatchers and seaside themes that catch people’s attention. It helps me because I can now plan my work around what works best for each gallery. I get to meet lots of lovely new people in each location. It does work quite well though because the galleries don’t take the limelight away from each other considering they’re so close.”
Classic cars once featured heavily in Matt’s perfection work, but currently, it’s all about animals and the beautiful sights of the countryside – and this is what makes up his wonderful collection found in the galleries. When you see Truffles the pig, gorgeously engraved slate placemats and elegantly framed prints, you know it’s the work of Matt Robson.
“When it comes to my main collections, they all work nicely together because there’s a collection of the same designs,” he explains.
“You can have a board that matches a mug, a picture on your wall and a cushion – so it all ties in really nicely together in an interior space. Whether you mix and match or stick to the same design, you can pick up several things to place throughout your home,” Matt adds.
When it comes to inspiration, Matt tells me it’s often his local surroundings and love of animals that guides him. However, due to the popularity of his commission-based work, he’s often led by his customers’ desires too.
Whether it’s a unique gift or a picture-perfect portrait of your pet, Matt’s artistic eye and attention to detail helps him stand out from the crowd; and with a niche for designing perfect gifts for men, his work fits perfectly into the gap in the market.
“I pride myself on being able to offer great gifts – especially for men,” he says.
“Being a bloke, I often find myself creating things that I like. So we do the engraved whisky tumblers, hip flasks, shot glasses, coasters, bone China mugs and much more, which make for perfect gifts for the men in people’s lives. An area which can, admittedly, be quite challenging.
“I also find myself doing lots of lovely portraits of dogs – a great keepsake for people, or wonderful as a special gift. It’s really nice to be able to offer something so personal and unique for my customers.
“Everything we do is in-house. The design, print, framing and engraving is all done by me using the latest technology to achieve high-quality and long-lasting prints and homeware items.
“It’s the same process for commissions too. It all begins with an idea. Once I have got a few images and a rough idea of what the customer is looking for, we start planning.”
The plan includes a digitally rendered image of what the final piece will look like, the size, presentation and a quote. Once agreed, I begin by sketching out the piece with graphite, then slowly and accurately the colour is applied building layers to achieve a very accurate and detailed drawing of the provided reference image.
“I now have four staff members. They help with print work so I have more time to focus on the art and the day-to-day of running a business, which of course takes up quite a bit of my time – especially since opening our third store!
“I’m excited and hopeful for what the future holds,” Matt says with a smile.
“There’s lots going on at the moment.”
Three years in and three art galleries later, Matt’s blossoming business is going from strength to strength. With talent and dedication at the heart, exciting plans in place and a collection of beautifully bespoke products, we can all expect to remember the name Matt Robson Artwork.