RSS Feed

» Listings for December 2016

  1. Website Logo

    In the Shop Window with Ailsa Black, Dumfries

    Monday, December 12th, 2016

    Our most recent ‘In the Shop Window’ is with Scottish artist Ailsa Black. Read a little glimpse behind the scenes of Ailsa’s successful business. Her back story, inspiration, previous jobs and Ailsa’s fantastic achievements.

    Ailsa Black, Dumfries

    My Business: I paint and from the paintings make prints, cards, calendars and a growing range of lovely goods. I sell these through my website and to trade. I work with galleries to sell my paintings, undertake commissions and license work for production.

    Starting Out: I studied Graphics and illustration at Grays School of Art in the 80’s. After art school I moved to Edinburgh and lived there for 10 years and had lots of different jobs. In 2000 I moved back to Dumfries and Galloway and started working as a manager for a big charity. It was quite a hectic job and as I approached 40 I decided it was time to start being more creative and started painting in my spare time.

    Previous jobs: Arts worker, outreach worker, photographic sales assistant, barmaid, fish processing assistant, administrator, support worker, charity manager … I could go on …

    Ailsa Black

    My “typical” working day: Up quite early about 6.30am and have breakfast and go out with my collie dog for a beach walk. I try to be in the studio between 8 and 9am. I check my emails and reply to any messages on social media. The mornings are generally spent doing admin tasks, packing orders, answering trade enquiries etc.  I try to have admin work done by lunchtime but in reality it often goes well in the afternoon. Ideally I try to start painting after lunchtime. I’ll have a break for tea and often go out again either for a walk or a bike ride. In the evening I usually carry on working and plan my next painting or work on small paintings at the desk in the living room.

    Self employment highs: Making your own decisions!

    Self employment lows: Not having a predictable income stream and the mortgage still needs paid …

    Inspiration: I love where I live and this is my inspiration. I try to spend as much time as I can out of doors and watching wildlife and the amazing birds and sea mammals we have round here. From my studio I can see porpoises, otters, seals, flocks of birds, deer … you name it.

    Ailsa Black

    Business Achievements : I do love seeing my work on cards with charity names like Oxfam, Marie Curie and the RSPB.

    Longterm goals: I’m working with an agent who is helping me license some work in the long term I plan to take a step back from selling to trade so I have more time to spend being creative.

    Ailsa Black

    Promotion: In 2014 I was shortlisted in License This! which is a brand licensing competition. As a result I now have an agent and am working on expanding my range of products.

    Popular and Favourite Products: Cards and prints never go wrong but it’s lovely to have a big mug of tea with my art on the side.

    With Hindsight: Don’t try to do everything yourself.

    In my Private Jet: St Kilda

    Favourite Independent Shop: Loch Arthur near Beeswing.

    Favourite destination in Scotland: Dumfriesshire

    Favourite Scottish Tourist Attraction: Edinburgh

    Favourite Scottish Restaurant: My neighbours are all great cooks!

    Favourite TV Show: Still Game

    Best thing about Scotland: Stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, big open spaces, deserted beaches, changing light…

    Do you believe in Nessie? Yes, of course.

    Favourite Holiday Destination: Scotland, but I love the Lake District too.

    Ailsa Black

    Website –
    Facebook –
    Twitter –

    Big thanks to Ailsa for giving us a little glimpse into her world. Look out for another In the Shop Window interview coming in early 2017.