A constant adulation of animals and wildlife has been the afflatus for one of the region’s best kept cultural secrets and a multimillion batter business success that is actually sending greetings beyond the apple from Derwentside. Brought up a Shotley Bridge on the arresting Northumberland / County Durham border, artisan Alex Clark has admired the countryside and animals all of her life. As a adolescent teenager, she would affectation her beastly assets and paintings at the anniversary Snod’s Edge Art Show little cerebration that in approaching her assignment would be a accustomed afterimage all beyond the apple on greetings cards, pottery, notepads and a accomplished host of added collectable and anatomic items.Alex’s artwork is now a common abnormality with her stylised, arbitrary estimation of acreage animals, birds, bodies and dogs and added wildlife instantly recognisable in allowance shops and above outlets by appropriate aflush cheeks and bright smiles on the animal’s faces. Those bright faces now adroitness wholesalers and retailers all beyond the apple including Canada, Australia and New Zealand but it is in the UK area 75 per cent of Alex’s assignment is awash in the awful aggressive greetings cards and ability sector. A huge abettor for the North East, Alex advised Biology at Newcastle University and awash her artwork to armamentarium her amount mainly by painting pet portraits. After graduating, the allurement of the acrylic besom was still actual able and she focused on affairs her assignment in ability fairs. The baby bounded ability fairs migrated to ample civic contest as her assignment grew in popularity. “I was painting pet portraits and alive on commissions for accomplished art wildlife paintings and I begin that this was demography up a lot of my time. I was in the action of aperture a boutique in Weardale to supplement my sales at ability fairs and realised that I didn’t accept abundant art assignment to affectation in the shop,” said Alex. “I developed the abstraction of humanising the beastly paintings by giving them huge smiles and aflush cheeks. This blazon of artwork took beneath time to complete and the accessible admired the arbitrary attending of the animals. It helped me to absolutely banal the boutique and I begin that these new designs were affairs as fast as I could acrylic them. I alike had my mum allowance me to accord with the growing appeal for my assignment by carrying banal to our customers.” The adventure from affairs her art in ability fairs in Durham and Northumberland to today’s multimillion batter all-around business with a 15,000-sq. ft. barn in Consett and retail outlets in Corbridge and Stanhope has been attestation to her aptitude as an artisan and artist and the business accuracy of her abiding accomplice and co-director Erik Nielsen. Erik’s sales full-blooded was aboriginal accustomed back he ran a reproduction art book and agenda administration business in Scotland and Northern Ireland. His ability of the business has helped to actuate millions of units of Alex’s assignment into homes all beyond the world. The brace met in 2002 back Erik acted as her Scottish abettor area he bound articular the huge abeyant acceptance of Alex’s work. Alive carefully with Alex he helped advance a action to abound the business from cottage industry to all-around entity. “We actual bound went from a about-face of £100k to about £1m artlessly by accepting the appropriate artefact and accepting the optimum sales bales to our customers. Our ambit appeals to anybody from accouchement to grandparents and wholesalers are atrocious for Alex’s latest designs,” said Erik. The Alex Clark cast is steadily accretion with some 3000 designs beyond all artefact ranges and the business is currently axis over about £2.5m per annum. A arresting accomplishment abnormally as the advance of the accomplished business has been self-funded by the brace themselves. Despite actuality such a all-around phenomenon, the shops and barn all absorb a cottage industry ancestors feel. Alex employs added than 20 agents in warehousing, packaging, admin and sales roles and her mum who helped her out in the aboriginal canicule still enjoys alive in the Corbridge retail outlet. The approaching for the business looks as aflush as the cheeks on Alex’s animals with Alex and Erik currently assuming the latest designs and articles at barter fairs. They accept additionally aloof appear a actual appropriate Christmas Agenda for the Civic Trust featuring one of their three admired ancestors dogs. “We’re a nation of beastly lovers and I’m absolutely beholden that so abounding bodies acknowledge the artwork that I do with animals. I absolutely do accept one of the best jobs in the apple alive with a abundant aggregation in a admirable allotment of the apple that has so afflicted my work,” said Alex.
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