Success as artist sets up own business during lockdown

Date published: 16 May 2021

A Rochdale artist has shared the story of setting up her own successful abstract art business during lockdown.

Dani Burke runs her studio from home having taken the plunge during lockdown to do what she had always dreamed of doing, and set up The Studio Artisan.

Dani, who has always worked in retail and management despite aspiring to go into the fashion industry, picked up her paints around four years ago when her dad, David Burke, who used to be landlord of the Nelson on Drake Street, sadly died.

Unable to sleep and battling depression, Dani dug out some blank canvases and picked up her paints.

She said: “I’ve always been interested in drawing and design, and art has been such a benefit to me and my depression.

“I thought I’d give it a go. My friends have always said I should do it for a job, but I never had the confidence. I didn’t go to college and people like me don’t go to university. I’d always painted in my spare time.”

The single mum of one’s confidence had also been knocked by battling cervical cancer before her father died. After an operation and treatment, Dani was off work for a long time, and says the illness had made her 'want to hide away'.

During lockdown, Dani looked into business start-up courses before undertaking one through the job centre.


Dani's art


“I’ve run businesses before and I’m passionate about art, so why couldn’t I run my own business? I got a business support advisor and completed a course in June 2020. Since then, I’ve been self-employed, set up social media pages and my confidence has increased, which I think is because I’m making money for myself.”

She added: “Lockdown really worked in my favour because people were redecorating and looking round their homes for change. I’ve created 38 pieces of art since June, and Van Gogh only sold one painting when he was alive, so I’m happy with that.

“I’m lucky with the way everything’s going recently that I’ve had regular work. I get my paints out, get creative and put some music on. It’s been very important and has helped so much. I still struggle and take every day as it comes, but art therapy has been so helpful.”

Dani’s work consists of abstract statement pieces, her favourite type of art to work on, and she has also donated artwork to Rochdale and District Mind which is on display.

After building her own desk and easel before transitioning to a professional one, she now hopes to be able to rent a larger art space – staying in Rochdale.


Dani's art


Dani’s enthusiasm for her hometown is clear as she explained: “I’d absolutely stay in Rochdale. I was born and bred here and it’s fabulous going into town now. It looks great and is really changing. It’s a beautiful town with so much history and inspiration with the buildings, countryside and rivers.

“There’s so many stunning places here that people don’t know about, and that’s before you think of the good things we’re famous for, like the Co-op and the town hall. People tell it like it is here.”

“As long as I can paint, I’m happy and I think people appreciate bespoke and personalised work. Dad used to say he could see me as an artist or a florist.”

Dani added: “I’m a true survivor and a hard-working Rochdalian woman and I put everything into my business for it to be a success for both mine and my son’s future, but I also want to share with people how art therapy can help so much. After losing my dad, I fell back into my depression: art saved me and today keeps me focused and strong.

“Now I do it for a living and I never thought that be possible, but I’m doing it.”


Dani's art


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