Wanting to develop his career as a self-employed artist, illustrator and designer, James took part in The Trust’s Enterprise programme, which offers aspiring young entrepreneurs training, mentoring support, funding and resources to explore and launch their business, in 2021. After joining the programme, James then had the opportunity to enter our competition to get his designs featured in the Boots Christmas range.
James' designed items are part of the Boots commitment to donate 10% of the purchase price across all boxed Christmas cards to The Prince's Trust, as well as The Prince's Trust design wrap and tags this festive season. The donations go to helping the charity support more young people to kick-start their careers.
We caught up with James about his competition win and what it feels like now to see his work on Boots shelves.
What led to you entering the Boots Christmas card design competition?
“I’ve always loved drawing. I studied fine art at university and ever since I’ve always kept on drawing. When the pandemic happened, I actually went full-time as a freelance illustrator for the first time.
“I did a lot of client work, which was great, but doing that work all the time, it got to the point where I was essentially only drawing what other people wanted me to draw.
“So, I started working with The Prince’s Trust to help kick-start another side of the business where I would be selling my own work on cards and other products.
“That’s when I started creating my own designs. The competition gave me a great opportunity to create something out of my own imagination – and I was lucky to have my designs chosen as the winning entries.”
How has taking part in The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme supported you and your business?
“Working with The Prince’s Trust was really useful. When I started my journey to become a freelance illustrator, I was winging it. I didn’t really know what I was doing in terms of being self-employed.
“The Prince’s Trust helped me with some really practical things around tax returns, finance, business plans, marketing etc. – viable advice that supported me at the beginning of my journey all the way through to where I am now.”
What does it feel like to see your winning designs on Boots shelves?
“It really feels good to see my designs in real life, especially in a national store. It’s a real confidence boost.
“I’ve been doing commission and client work for a long time now but mainly for individuals or a couple of magazines in America, or self-published children’s books. But to see some of my work actually on shelves in the UK is really exciting.
“Seeing my work out there has really boosted my confidence to think, ‘yeah, actually I am good enough to do this’. So yes, it’s been a really positive experience for me.”
Have you (or your friends/family) bought your cards or paper from Boots yet?
“Yes, I have had a few different family members tell me that they have seen them. Friends have seen them at the Boots in the Metrocentre near Gateshead, and all the way down to the Boots in Hayle in Cornwall.”
What’s next for you and your work?
“I'm continuing to expand my range of cards, prints and colouring books on my online store. I also plan on doing some local craft fairs in the near future.”
What would you say to someone considering starting out in their own business?
“It's a great adventure. Starting out it's busy and stressful, as you become the marketing, sales and accounts departments, as well as actually producing the work. But there is a great sense of freedom being your own boss.”