Business turns to colour

Colour turns to art

Jo Rankin’s passion for art goes back to childhood, she has vivid memories of constantly colouring and drawing.

In her teenage years at high school she studied art, but, she said, in that time you had to find a job as soon as you’d left school. Jo landed a job in an office, leaving her with little time and inspiration to follow her passion for art.

It wasn’t long after that, she was married to her husband, Rod.

In Jo’s mid to late 30s she and her husband started an importing business. She had a friend living in Hong Kong at the time and was a frequent visitor to the foreign bustling city. While she was there she realised there were a lot of goods that you could get there, but not back home.

“We started small and eventually ended up with quite a big business, we ran it for about 15 years. When we sold the business, my boys had grown up and moved out of home, it was starting to feel like a time for me to move into what I wanted to do,” Jo said.

Jo then, in her 50s, had the opportunity to study Interior Design, something she had developed a passion for because of her and her husband’s importing business, as she had been involved with what they had brought in for interior designers over the years.

“I decided to get my qualification in Interior Design and did a two year course in Auckland, where we had been living, and I just loved every minute of it,” Jo said.

And as it turned out, Rod was a bit of a handyman, being a trained design engineer and all, so once again the couple went into business and started their own interior design company.

Jo was enjoying the business, but she soon found inspiration in a different place altogether.

“We had friends who had a holiday home in Kinloch, just outside of Taupo, and we fell in love with the area, so we ended up moving there.”

This inspired an old passion in Jo and brought on a whole new business idea; she was finally able to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an artist.

“When we moved to Kinloch, that was when I started to paint, it was the real beginning of me calling myself an artist,” she said.

Painting started off as a hobby for Jo. She went to a local tutor in Kinloch to begin with and learnt about watercolours, which her first few serious paintings were created with. But after joining an art group in Taupo, she soon found acrylics were more her style.

“I wanted my artwork to feel loose and more casual. I’d had so many years of structure with business, I just felt I needed to be able to let myself go and enjoy the process. Because of the way I was feeling, I fell into an abstract style,” Jo said.

Since starting out in the painting world, Jo, now in her 70s, has completed many online courses, attended lots of workshops and managed to build up her techniques and knowledge to a point where now, 10-years into her painting career, she feels happy calling herself an artist.

Jo has, to date, had several art exhibitions, her own studio and gallery, people approaching her to have her art shown in their galleries, and she’s even been featured in a documentary.

“One of the biggest highlights for me happened two years ago when I received a phone call from Graham Stevenson, who has a production company called Put Some Colour in Your Life. Graham goes around the world filming artists to learn about different techniques and styles used in different places.

“He films each artist for one day while they are painting, then it’s edited down to 30 minutes and sold to art channels around the world and uploaded to his YouTube channel. That’s what happened with mine and currently I’ve had almost 30,000 views, which has been a wonderful way of promoting my name and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”

Jo said she’s never really been tech savvy, she started promoting her work online through social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. She eventually realised she needed to have a website and began exploring her options, when she decided to ask for her son's advice.

“It was only last year that my son suggested Rocketspark, because it’s a New Zealand based website. The timing seemed to fit, because as I was looking at it I saw there was going to be a pop-up shop in Hamilton where we could learn more about it from the actual team.”

Jo said the pop-up shop helped her and Rod decide that Rocketspark was the right choice.

“Being at the workshops made us realise that Rocketspark, and the people who make up the company, were there to help us all the way and that gave us the confidence to get going, we weren’t alone” Jo said.

Rod is the mastermind behind Jo’s website, as he’s “a bit more tech savvy”, Jo said.

“The guidance from the support team has been great, we’ve definitely made a fair few phone calls asking for help and the support has just been there all the way, it’s been amazing,” she said.