Throughout her entire life, Gemma Cate Hicks has been creative, she has always painted and has always been entrepreneurial. Gemma told The Knaphillian she would try and sell drawings for 20p to family members when she was six years old!
Gemma continues, ‘On both sides for generations, my family have always had their own businesses and I have grown up with this entrepreneurial spirit. If they didn’t have their own business, they were teaching – this goes back 100 years too! I think I’m the 50/50 mixture of my DNA which makes sense why I run my own business teaching art.
‘I studied Textile Design at Falmouth University and graduated in 2013. The course was perfect for me as it was split between business and design studies. I learnt early on how to write a business plan, invoice, manage accounts, liaise with clients etc. These are all skills that I use today, however I now hire the services of an accountant and my husband is a whizz with the prep for our VAT returns!’
The Knaphillian caught up with Gemma because we heard about the Brush Party events she runs at The Nag’s Head Inn in Knaphill.
Brush Parties are fun, creative nights out in local areas. Participants can book for an evening of music, laughter, painting and a glass of wine or two. Gemma runs Brush Party events at The Nag’s Head Inn each month and picks a theme for you to paint.
Gemma says, ‘It doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since school, I will walk you through creating your masterpiece. You’ll be thrilled as your blank canvas transforms in just a few hours, made all the better by good company, music, and a glass of wine or two!’ All materials and equipment is provided.
The events can be enjoyed as part of a group or just as an individual. Brush Party nights are always fun and informal making it a really friendly environment to pick up a paintbrush. Gemma tells us the evenings are so much fun, often friendships are made and her students are talking about the evening for weeks afterwards.
‘My decision to start teaching came down to recognising that as everyone’s lifestyles have changed dramatically now, we need more time to creatively express ourselves’ says Gemma. ‘I think it’s wonderful when a room of people get together and create their own artwork and discover their abilities and talents. People arrive to our events for so many reasons, whether that’s to do something different with friends, explore another avenue for mindfulness or just to have a break from technology. I think art is an incredibly powerful tool to help settle us and use the other side of our brains. Unfortunately in schools so many people are told that they’re not creative or feel they should pursue more academic routes, but of course with art not one size fits all – perhaps a person is brilliant at pottery they just don’t know it yet? They might be fantastic with colour but haven’t explored it enough? It’s never too late to find out what you’re good at a pick up a hobby.
‘I didn’t realise when I started Brush Party that I would meet so many fantastic people who I now call friends. I meet up regularly for coffee or go out for dinner with people who arrived at an event and I got chatting to them and found out that we have so much in common – I never would have met these lovely people had I not started my own business and I feel very lucky to be in this position. I’m also a double act with my husband Leon, who is the events assistant. He’s a hero when it comes to logistics and I would be lost without him. It sounds cheesy but he’s my best friend, I’m very fortunate I get to work with him every day.
‘I still try and find time for my own artwork, painting and design work but now I’m so busy with Brush Party. I also have so many ideas for little projects for myself such as picking up my embroidery hoop or finally mastering the art of knitting – all in good time though.
The Knaphillian asked Gemma to tell us a bit more about herself:
The Knaphillian (TK): What did you want to be when you were at school?
Gemma: I have always wanted to do something creative, I have the most incredible parents who have supported me throughout art school, internships, extracurricular art activities, looked over my portfolios and visited every exhibition. I am very fortunate they’re so understanding, especially as they’re self confessed ‘not particularly creative’ themselves!
TK: What was your first job?
Gemma: My first job was helping out at a pottery painting studio after school and at the weekends – not too dissimilar to what I do now and that was 15 years ago!
TK: What would you say has been your best business decision?
Gemma: My background in design and freelancing is a great foundation for running my business now. I know that as I approach 30 this year, I have to be around people rather than stay within my studio all day not seeing another soul. I’m such a chatty person and love helping others explore their potential, I’m at my best when I’m doing something creative with a group of lovely people.
TK: And your best moment so far in your business?
Gemma: My best moment in business is hard to define but I think seeing people coming back to the sessions and sending me photos of their masterpieces up on the wall at home makes me really happy. When people recreate their pieces at home or adapt it using new skills and techniques is always exciting as I feel I’ve helped them on their creative journey.
TK: It’s probably a silly question, but do you have any hobbies?
Gemma: Hobbies outside of running the business? Anything outdoorsy from running to early morning yoga. I try and get down to Cornwall as often as possible as both my husband and I are keen surfers.
TK: What do you do on your days off?
Gemma: I rarely have these as there’s always something to do with the business such as answering emails or creating new paintings, but I actually find it very hard to switch off. I also find it hard to sit still so I have to be active doing something or going somewhere.
TK: And what makes your weekend complete?
Gemma: Sometimes we have private and birthday events at the weekend so this is how I spend my time but I also like going to visit friends and family or exploring somewhere new on a dog walk and taking in as much fresh air as possible. If it’s been a particularly hectic week, I like to visit my Mum and Dad for a bit of calm. I relax a lot more around my lovely family when spending quality time with them.
Thank you Gemma!
For details of the Brush Party events at The Nag’s Head and other venues, contact:
Or access Gemma’s Facebook page.