Paul Berryman

As part of our Interview series 1, we spoke with Paul Berryman an artist who specialises in drawing and painting from the human face and figure. He tells about how he tip-toed into the creative industry.


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Paul Berryman and I’m an artist that specializes in drawing and painting from the human face and figure.

How did you get into the creative industry?

I tip-toed into the creative industry by amplifying something I was doing as a leisure activity.

About nine years ago I started wanting to do more simple stuff in my life and I’ve always painted and always drawn and I’ve always loved those things.

I wanted a really good quality leisure activity that I had a little bit of control over and there weren’t that many life drawing or portrait groups near where I lived so I started one and it didn’t take very long before it was clear I’d done exactly the right thing and we ended up with lots of really good artists, lots of good models. It became a kind of social hub, a therapy hub, as well as an art hub and became such a huge part of my life.

Some 400 events later all of a sudden you realise you’ve got a really good book of contacts, some really good experience in being able to facilitate art from life for people and as well as myself I just joined the dots together and went, this is something I want to do more of.

So Covid came along and kind of killed any sort of progress in everybody’s world and same for me but when Covid stopped it felt like an opportunity to hit the reset button. Instead of being a guy who ran a business who messed around with art, what if I became an artist who messed around with business?

So it was just seeing the opportunity clearly after Covid when everything had stopped and just reconfiguring things in my own head to become an artist rather than someone that messed around with art.

What tips would you give to someone starting out in the creative industries?

There are so many things that you can take in that are going to serve you well if you’re at the beginning of a journey in creativity. The thing I did that I’m pleased I did was I listened to a piece of advice that the 60s photographer David Bailey gave years ago. I’ve harboured this inside me for 20, 30 years but he said, “If you want to become a photographer,” he said, “don’t just go out and take pictures of everything, find the thing that you really like taking pictures of and go and take pictures of that until you’re sick of it until you’re bored of it. He said, “But get good at it. Get good at one thing. He said, “It might be churches, but just go out and do the one thing and do a lot of it.

When I started drawing, drawing from life is a huge thing for me.
Drawing in charcoal is a huge thing for me.
And I kind of stuck to my guns.
Instead of getting excited about the fact that I could paint and
I could do all manner of different things.

And if we’re creative, generally our minds are kind of sparking off in all sorts of different directions. But I stuck to my guns and pretty much
left myself in the one groove and just went as hard and as far forward as I possibly could with those things. And I think what happens is you end up in a place where instead of being a generalist you’ve got some really good ideas about the one specific key skill that you’ve stuck at and you kind of find yourself in a sort of rarefied air.

You kind of find yourself being with a peer group that’s probably quite narrow in terms of their experience. If you’re doing life art, portrait art, and charcoal art, there’s not a huge amount of people out there, but
there are people out there and you find yourself kind of sitting amongst them comfortably and it just feeds into your own, a little bit about your own belief, and you’re going to make connections and get opportunities
because you’ve become good at something.

It’s quite easy to get sucked into just doing this, doing that and lots of everything and I think find the thing you love that lights you up.
That’s really important. It has to be something that you really engage with and just do so much of it that you end up with skills that become valuable as a commodity that can help support you in your creative

Creativity is an amazing thing to do, but at the end of the day, you have to monetize it if you’re going to make a career out of it. And being really, really good at one thing, however small that thing is, is going to serve you much better than being a generalist where you’re competing with almost everybody.

The last thing I’d say is don’t try and do it alone. Creativity can be really lonely in terms of a visual artist or a painter such as I am. You can spend hours and hours just staring at the same piece of canvas or drawing and you’re not speaking to anyone or seeing anyone. Try and find ways to be sociable For me, it’s easy because there are life drawing groups and I can go out and meet like-minded people.

But I’m going to give a big up to Neotists here because you’ve got a huge group of creatives from all different disciplines and bringing those people together will teach you that some of the things that you’re suffering as a creative, the doubt, maybe financial issues, whatever, other people are going through it and other people have found a way through it.

So as a support mechanism, being amongst other people who are experiencing the same thing is really key.
So don’t do it alone.
It could be painful that way.