Faces of Tamworth: homegrown artist Annie Everingham

COLOURFUL: Annie Everingham in painting mode. Photo: Sophie Tyler Photography

COLOURFUL: Annie Everingham in painting mode. Photo: Sophie Tyler Photography

Former Tamworth girl Annie Everingham has pursued her dreams of creativity and has become the artist she always hoped to be.

Annie says she “grew up always drawing and painting, and knew I wanted to pursue something to do with art”, and that as a Tamworth High School student, her teacher Tina Poder was “really supportive” of her ambitions.

The current Newcastle resident came back to town this week to help out her high school teacher Tina Poder deliver a practical workshop with Year 9 and 10 students in the art gallery.

“Coming back and getting them engaged in creative works and practices is really important to me because it gives that extra lifeline to resources that they wouldn’t have access to normally," Miss Everingham said.

She now owns her own art studio in an industrial estate of Newcastle where she tries the keep normal 9-5 working hours.

A FUSION of creativity, commercialism, discipline and inspiration is seeing former Tamworth girl Annie Everingham make her colourful mark on more and more households.

Now a Newcastle resident, Annie recently returned to Tamworth to share her artistic and career tips at a workshop for HSC visual arts students from the New England region.

She says it was a way to re-invest in the communities that have invested in her, allowing her to build her profile as a visual artist and freelance creative.

Annie says she “grew up always drawing and painting, and knew I wanted to pursue something to do with art”, and that as a Tamworth High School student, her teacher Tina Poder was “really supportive” of her ambitions.

But she made it there with an eclectic approach that’s maybe not unlike her art style, which she describes as “vibrant”, “quite spontaneous” and “all very intuitive”.

After finishing school in 2007, Annie took a gap year, working in housekeeping in a remote Western Australia tourist area, backpacking down the west coast, then travelling around the United States and Mexico. Then she started studying fashion and textile design at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

“I went to uni and explored combining [fashion] illustration, textile design – creating artwork for fabric – and fashion and garment design … over a more traditional fine arts or visual arts degree,” she says.

She ended up majoring in textile design and, in her final year, did a six-week internship at print studio Karolina York.

“It was through that that I had an insight into how design and art in the commercial world works … it opened up my understanding of the products I could create and apply my art to.”

'WE COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER'S SKILLS': Chris O'Connor, Annie Everingham and Max at home. Chris's parents have owned and run businesses formerly in Tamworth and now with him in Newcastle, and he studied commerce at university, which Annie says 'all contributes to the smooth operational side of my business'. Photo: Lazy Bones Photography

'WE COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER'S SKILLS': Chris O'Connor, Annie Everingham and Max at home. Chris's parents have owned and run businesses formerly in Tamworth and now with him in Newcastle, and he studied commerce at university, which Annie says 'all contributes to the smooth operational side of my business'. Photo: Lazy Bones Photography

Another breather after study was next. Annie moved to Newcastle, where she started selling her “own little products” at the markets. It was in 2014-15 that it started to become a little more serious than that. Now with the unlikely pairing of her Karolina York and markets experience, she knew she’d need to combine her creative passion with a business eye. “It helped me have that more entrepreneurial approach to it,” Annie says.

“My partner Chris [O’Connor, also a former Tamworthian] encouraged me and helped me set up an online store to sell my [market] products – cushions, silk scarves, art prints and greeting cards – and just through gaining a little bit of a following on social media and the Newcastle area at markets, I started having success selling products online, and stores in Newcastle picked me up as a stockist. That opened the door for me in terms of establishing my business on a wholesale level.”

A glimpse of Annie Everingham's light and colourful studio. Photo: Sarah Candlin Photography

A glimpse of Annie Everingham's light and colourful studio. Photo: Sarah Candlin Photography

She started to pick up other stockists across the country for her home goods, art prints and stationery, and was being asked to create original pieces of artwork on canvas for private buyers. Annie was also being approached by companies for freelance art and illustration jobs.

But she was still working another full-time job, this was “a passion project on the side” and she couldn’t squeeze it all in. Then, two years ago, she took her business full-time. She admits “it was terrifying”.

“I was working for a creative hub in Newcastle as their administration manager. I was working around creative people and seeing people pursuing their business ventures, which in a way inspired me to give it a go myself… It was actually Chris that pushed me into it, because he started to notice I had some great opportunities arriving on my doorstep and I was having to turn them down because I couldn’t fit it in,” she says.

Photo: Sophie Tyler Photography

Photo: Sophie Tyler Photography

“Being the entrepreneurial mind, he saw there was potential in what I was doing, and we were making an income – and the more time I put into it, the more I could grow it.”

Annie now has a studio in an industrial estate in Newcastle.

She tries to keep 9-5ish working hours, which makes her “feel bit more motivated and switched on”.

“I worked from home in the early days, but I needed to have some discipline and structure to my day … you can’t really wait for inspiration to strike,” she says.

She outsources the printing of most of her products, but has invested in a large-format printer for her art prints, which has reduced overheads and increased profits.

A peek into Annie's home. Photo: Lazy Bones Photography

A peek into Annie's home. Photo: Lazy Bones Photography

“That was the first big financial decision we made early on, and it paid off,” she says.

So what’s next for this artist who’s backed herself on making a living as a creative?

She’s hand-painted some denims for a fashion label. She’s done some hand-painted stooltops for a furniture company. She’s designed a yoga mat for a wellness event. She’s working with an underwear company to print her art on fabric for their products. She freelances in creating artwork for various companies’ products or campaigns. She’d love to get more into textiles, such as bed linens and throws.

She’s not kidding when she says she “gets bored easily [without] lots of different projects to work on and explore and experiment with” and that “no two days are the same”.

That can also be a downside, though.

Some of Annie's work. Photo: Fenton & Fenton

Some of Annie's work. Photo: Fenton & Fenton

“I have to wear a lot of different hats: managing the creative side of things, trying to be innovative and come up with fresh ideas; but at the same time, any small business person knows the mundane things you can get bogged down with: managing finances and cash flow, getting people to pay invoices, couriers, things going missing – that all falls in my plate and it’s sometimes hard to fill all those roles in one day.”

Another biggie is “the not knowing whether or not you can sustain things long-term”.

“It’s always a bit of a risk, but that drives me and pushes me to keep growing and expanding,” she says.

“I tend to play it by ear and let my intuition take me in those different directions as time goes on, just letting it all unfold … some artists might turn their nose up at people who commercialise art, but for me art and fashion and interiors and textiles and all those different areas intercept in a lot of ways, and I really enjoy being able to move between them all.”

How you can nominate someone for The Northern Daily Leader's Faces of Tamworth campaign

Comments