Apologies for leaving it so long (again) but you know how it is. Life, the universe and everything gets in the way. But here I am, so let’s crack straight on!  I believe I left you all on a ‘cliff hanger’ at the end of my last post – well I like to think it was a cliff hanger anyway, so with no more ado I shall continue my story….

To briefly re-cap, a strange man walked brusquely into my gallery and without a word of introduction or warning offered me some help and advice, seemingly irrespective of whether I wanted any or not!

As I mentioned in my last post, this man turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me and to all extents and purposes became my mentor over the next 6 months (at least).  This man was ex-marketing director of London Weekend Television and had worked directly under Murdoch, he had also been a senior marketing executive for Nestle – he told me some amazing stories about that – and he had been head hunted to work for the MOD when he was just 17.  This man was a marketing GURU!

OH he was a pretty good illustrator and carved walking stick heads too!

He was also really rather odd.

His name?  David Butterfield.  And I am sorry but I really cannot find any photos of him.  I know I have an illustration he did of himself somewhere and I will try to find it to post on here. However, not withstanding any of this, I shall try to explain what happened and how he helped me so massively.

It was several weeks after our first encounter that ‘the strange man’ reappeared in my gallery.  This time he was in less of a hurry and actually came to have something framed (from what I recall).  We ended up chatting, or rather he asked me a lot of questions to which I responded.  He was curious about who I was and why I had done what I had done.  And this time it really was obvious that he wanted to help.  He was a lovely chap but pretty private about his own life though I did manage to get a bit out of him over time.

The reason he was back in his ‘old back yard’ as he called it, was because he was caring for his father who was suffering with Alzheimer’s. So, there were times when he spent quite a bit of time with me and times when he was back down in London working as a consultant.

So, how did this relationship develop?  Well, he started by asking me a LOT of questions.  There were the obvious, about my business and my values, but others were, well … surprising would be the polite way of putting it.  Intrusive would be closer to the truth and downright personal would be putting no finer point on it!  This man asked me questions that some of my best friends wouldn’t ask me.  However, before you think this man was just clearly a bit of a wierdo, he was very very smart and was working out how far he could push me, where my sensitivities lay, where I was strong and where I was weak.  He made me confront self esteem issues. He pushed me well outside of my comfort zones and damn well bullied me at times! Though whilst he was doing all this, he made me know he was doing all of it to help me and I understood.  He had just been working out if I was worth giving his time up for, and fortunately for me, he decided I was.  I can’t say it was a test because it wasn’t, but it was testing! Once this right of passage was completed he gave me about three months of his time almost solidly.  Right from the start he was very clear about the help he would give.  He said “I could tell you how I would run this business but then it would be my business not yours.”

He helped me understand things I needed, including that so much of business is a game and that you need to learn how to play it.  He talked about sexism, he talked about youth, he talked about me.  

  • He designed my first logo
  • He designed my first schedules
  • He designed my first artists’ profile leaflets
  • He explained what I needed to show the bank
  • He explained the press
Example of an early artist's profile

Me – with an artist’s profile! I used to find time to paint…

Inside the profile leaflet.

Inside the profile.

An early single page artist's Schedule.

An early single page artist’s Schedule.

The back of the profile leaflet.

The back of the profile leaflet.

An example of a fairly early quarterly schedule.

An example of a fairly early quarterly schedule.

Another fairly early schedule.

Another fairly early schedule.

A miniature version of the schedule for a miniatures exhibition.  David lent me the magnifying glass.

A miniature version of the schedule for a miniatures exhibition. David lent me the magnifying glass.

Inside the miniature schedule

Inside the miniature schedule

The front and back of a schedule

The front and back of a schedule

A photo of a relatively early schedule and some artists' profiles.

Early leaflets and schedules

A press collage made by David for use in my very first schedule.

A press collage made by David for use in my very first schedule.

I remember one day very clearly, after another in depth conversation, when he just stopped and looked at me and with a smile said;

” Mmm you don’t know you are, but you are!”

“What?” I almost screamed – he could be enormously infuriating.

“A game player.” He replied.

A simple utterance, I know, but one I have never forgotten.  This is the man that famously nick named me ‘The Art Tart’ and I have tried to live up to that ever since.

After the intensive three months of help and advice David would then disappear for months on end, occasionally re-appearing and demanding, yes, demanding,  to see evidence of what I had been up to.  I had to bring all the marketing material I had created, and all the press cuttings for him to view.  He would cast his critical eye over them, deliver his signatory ‘Good girl!” and turn on his heels and leave, and when I achieved a 1/3 page photo in the independent I actually received a congratulatory postcard from him!

What David gave me, in addition to the clearly practical help and advice, was the belief that I could do it.  He saw I was stubborn and had a passion for art and he gave me that extra push that comes from someone else believing in you.  His belief was a huge boost and I will never forget what he did for me.

Now, here is the sad part.  David died aged 47.  That’s only two years older than I am now. He never told me he was ill, though he did give me the means of finding out – which I did.  And I went to the funeral which nearly broke my heart.  Not because he had died, but because the man I heard the vicar talking about was not the man I knew.  He had hidden so much of his true self away. It was his choice, I knew that, but it hurt.

He was an amazing man, and I will never forget him.

But David left his legacy.  All the advice and help he gave me so freely and so generously was to prove invaluable as one of my most difficult periods running my business was about to hit….

The Sheffield Supertram NIGHTMARE!

Read all about it in my next thrilling instalment…..

K x