Before getting involved with The Prince’s Trust, budding artist Iona Rowland was working in art PR. However, when a big commission came in, she decided to take a leap of faith and pursue her passion full-time.
“I studied fine art at Kingston University which is where I really honed my creative process of combining oil painting and silk-screen printing. After graduating, I mainly worked in galleries and was always surrounded by art and inspirational people – I wouldn’t be who I am now without all my previous jobs. Deciding to leave my job in art PR was scary but securing a big commission was too tempting an offer to refuse.
“The programme taught me how to run a sustainable business and, without it, I don’t think I would have developed this specialism of creating art for public spaces. I’ve gained confidence and the entrepreneurial expertise to monetise my work and recognise my self-worth. Enterprise made me realise it’s ok to mix art and business. My Prince’s Trust mentor isn’t from the art world which has helped hugely – he’s taught me that if I want my work to be accessible, this needs to come across in everything I do. The career trajectory in the art world can be quite structured and I now know that I don’t need to follow a traditional route to be successful. My mentor has been crucial to boosting my confidence, especially during the pandemic.
“Whilst I was on the programme, I was commissioned to create a mural of literary legend Agatha Christie in London’s historic Seven Dials. This was an amazing opportunity as I’m passionate about painting aspirational figures, from artists and activists to musicians and writers, people that inspire others to achieve amazing things. I want viewers to see themselves in the subjects of my artworks and think if they can do it, so can I. The commission gave me the chance to reach a much wider audience, opened my eyes to the possibilities of public art and most importantly, it aligned with my values of making art accessible for everyone.”
Though she’s had to be agile and adapt her business during the pandemic, Iona recently finished a public mural for Handel & Hendrix in Mayfair - the artwork celebrates Jimi Hendrix’s time in London and is available to view in the window of his former home at 23 Brook Street. She’s now excited about finishing murals which have been interrupted due to the pandemic (including an enormous painting at House of Vans below Waterloo Station); and continuing her mission of making art accessible for all.
“To someone thinking of seeking support from The Prince’s Trust, I’d say be brave, step out of your comfort zone and go for it.”