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Business Support Success Story - Jonathan Retallick, Artist and Carpenter

Updated: 10 hours ago

Jonathan Retallick is an Artist, based in Menai Bridge, who creates unique artworks that have earned him worldwide renown in art circles.

Jonathan also works as a carpenter and creates bespoke projects for businesses and customers across the region.

Entrepreneurship applies itself in many industries, and the art world is no different. 

Having a keen business mindset can help an artist thrive in an industry as competitive as art.

We went to visit Jonathan who recently received a Small Business Grant with help from Môn CF, to ask about how the grant has helped him grow his business, and to hear about what’s next on the horizon. 

Jonathan in his workshop in Menai Bridge

Q1. Hi Jonathan, to start us off, could you tell us a little about yourself, and the business you’ve set up? 


Of course, I'm Jonathan, I'm a self-employed artist and carpenter. I specialise in oil painting on canvas and use my carpentry skills to build a lot of my materials. 

As an intrinsically creative person, I’ve always liked the idea of working for myself. Having always leaned towards the idea of self-employment for most of my life. 

 Pursuing my creative ideas has always been one of my ambitions and in 2015 I decided to pursue my ambitions full-time. Art has always meant a lot to me, as a method of communication, and a commentary on existence. After a few years of building a substantial portfolio, I went to study art at university. 

"I've leaned towards the idea of self-employment for most of my life."


This was a tough decision having often been discouraged by people’s belief that art lacked job opportunities, but I had to be true to myself.  


Going to university was the best life decision I’d made to that point, my timing was perfect and I thrived. I graduated in 2020 into a very different world. Job security was no longer guaranteed, and the world shifted into the unknown. 


Finding my feet as an artist I worked in factories to pay bills until my self-employed work picked up momentum. 


I now work on my art full-time and have partnered with local galleries that showcase my work exclusively.  I’ve also built a worldwide network of collectors who commission my work. 

Q2. What kind of support have you received so far from Môn CF? 


I’d been pointed to Môn CF by a few friends who’d had help setting up their businesses and thought I’d give it a shot. 


I originally came to Môn CF looking for employment support after redundancies were announced at the factory where I worked. They encouraged me to think of everything I could do to earn money as a whole package and it was looking like self-employment was going to be the best option for me. 


Being self-employed scared me a lot at first, but I gradually picked up so much work that I often had to turn it down. 


The coaches at Môn CF helped me see that what I had was working well and encouraged me to nurture it, and it’d grown into a thriving business. 


It’s been about 9 months since I reached out to Môn CF, and they’ve since helped me apply for a small business grant. 


I applied and was granted various woodworking tools that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. The tools have already been used extensively to take on a wider variety of work. 

Môn CF's support has enabled me to do more self-employed woodwork alongside my art and has facilitated a flexible working schedule that has worked very well for me in the last few months.

Q3. What was it like to work with Môn CF, how did you find the grant application process? 

The application process couldn’t have been easier. Very straightforward and the grants team supported me through it. 

Having been unsuccessful with grant applications in the past, Môn CF made sure their process was simple by comparison. 

"My ambition is to continue to create artwork that excites me enough to want to share it with others. It’s been nearly 9 years since I dedicated myself to art and my love for it has only grown."

Jonathan Retallick in his workshop
Jonathan makes and stretches his canvases in a workshop he built in Menai Bridge

"Môn CF's support has enabled me to do more self-employed woodwork alongside my art"

Q4. So, what’s next for your business, what are your ambitions for the next few years? 


I have two large exhibitions coming up, one at Ffin y Parc starting on the 24th of May until the 15th of June, and another at MoMA Cymru, from the 14th of September to the 16th of November. 


I have also been shortlisted for the Kyffin Williams Drawing Prize 2024 and had work on display at the Royal Cambrian Academy. 


Although I plan to keep exhibiting in Wales for the long term, encouraged by the increased international attention, I have started to plan exhibitions that reach a wider audience. 


For now, I have my head down focussing on creating evermore sophisticated works. 

I strive to create work that inspires emotional and contemplative responses that grow with viewers over time.

My ambition is to continue to create artwork that excites me enough to want to share it with others.

It's been nearly 9 years since I dedicated myself to art and my love for it has only grown.

Q5. And lastly, If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to go self-employed or start a new business, what would it be? 


"Do what you love and hold on to it for dear life!"


It’s rarely a smooth road to success in self-employment, and you might need to get part-time work to support your passion. But if you keep chipping away and persevere, you will undoubtedly succeed! 


Jonathan Retallick Artwork

Q6. How can people find out more about you and your work? 


The best way to see my work would be to look me up on social media, my Instagram is @jonathan_retallick and you can find me on Facebook by searching JonathanRetallickArt. 


You can also see my website which showcases my work.


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