Monthly Archives: May 2012

Tone Hitchcock

Welcome to Saturday Business chat. In a first for the series, we’ve got a brother-sister combination! Last week I featured Annabelle Beckwith, and now it’s the turn of her equally talented brother, Tone Hitchcock, of Anthony Hitchcock Art & Design. I met Tone at about the time I met Anna, so he would have been 16 or so at the time. I heard about his work through Anna over the years, went to an opening night of some wonderful paintings he had exhibited, and met up with him a few months ago when he came to “visit” the fibreglass gorilla he’d made that was on display in Digbeth Coach Station. Models he’s made appear on the TV and in films, and it’s great to watch the inventive and marvellous things he produces. Let’s find out how he got started …

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

Anthony Hitchcock Art & Design. I know, it’s not the snappiest of titles, but it does what it says on the tin. I’ve been doing this since 1997, sometimes part-time, now mostly full time. Unofficially, it’s “Purveyor of Props, Paintings and Peculiarities”.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I decided to set up for myself as I’d spent most of my time at Uni doing artwork and playing in various bands anyway, rather than concentrating on my English degree. Pretty much the only person I could find willing to employ me when I graduated was me, so it seemed like a good idea.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

Art has always been my first love; I’ve been selling paintings since I was 14. I started commercially by doing illustrations and caricatures; it snowballed from there.

Had you run your own business before?

A friend of mine and I at school had run a t-shirt printing business from our study, if that counts … [Liz: yes, of course it does!]

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I’ve had a couple of full-time stints at this, and, as I said, I am now pretty much full-time again, but for a long time, I had various part-time jobs as well to keep me ticking over. I’ve worked in a few different shops, done kitchen and bathroom design, worked in a warehouse, done stock control for the Roman Baths shops; whatever it took, really!

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

I wish someone had told me to concentrate on prop and modelmaking 15 years ago!

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

I would like to go back and tell myself not to lose faith; it’s never easy trying to make a living artistically, but when it does start to come together, it makes the hard times fade away, and it all becomes worthwhile.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

I took a sculpting course in late ’97, whereas before I’d mainly concentrated on 2D artwork. It felt really natural to me, but I was already committed to trying to make a go of it with paintings. I remember wondering if I should make the switch to 3D work instead, but I decided against it. I don’t generally dwell on “what if?” contemplation, but still … in this case, it might have got me further along sooner.

What are you glad you did?

To be honest, even all the rubbishy part-time roles I’ve had have given me something useful, even if it was just experience. Heck, even my wasted youth making Lightsabers out of old bits of Hoover tube has come in useful, as it gave me the perfect skillbase for making the collapsible armature for my latest commission!

What’s your top business tip?

DON’T GIVE UP! And also, tailor what you do to the market. As an artist, it is quite tempting to throw a bit of a hissy fit, and go “But this is my muse! People must appreciate it and buy my work!”

Well, I love melancholy landscapes and bleak atmospheres, but apparently the general art-buying public isn’t keen enough on them to pay for my living. Talent doesn’t guarantee you a career – the old adage about success coming from 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration is true.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

Following on nicely from the last question, my success rate increased exponentially as soon as I started being less precious about what I do, and started listening more to what other people advised (particularly my wife, but don’t tell her that or she’ll become insufferable).

I’ve always made models as a bit of a sideline, hence the lightsabers, but I’d never really taken it seriously. Three years ago, I made a Wookiee mask for a friend’s birthday, and everyone that saw it asked why I wasn’t doing prop and modelwork all the time. As the only answer I could come up with was a rather sheepish “errr…”, I started scouting around for that kind of work, which lead me on to freelancing at Codsteaks Prop and Model Workshop in Bristol. It’s gone on from there.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

This time next year, Rodders, we’ll be miwionaires … or at least, doing model and prop work more consistently so that Bryony, my wife, can lessen the amount of hours she works.

What a talented pair of siblings Anna and Tone are. And what a lot of different areas of inspiration they offer to other freelancers and entrepreneurs. Never give up, learn from your mistakes, do what you have to in order to sustain your business idea … things we can all learn, whether we train people or make eels for a living! Oh, look – I’ve interviewed their cousin, Sam, too!

Tone’s 2013 update is here!

This is one website that you MUST go and look at, for all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures and beautiful paintings: find Anthony Hitchcock Art & Design at You can, of course, email Tone or call him on 07929 272 513, especially if you’d like to commission a painting or sculpture. Or an eel.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.


Tags: , ,

Businesses: be careful when marketing around the Olympics!

No Olympic logos here!

If you’re a business operating in the UK, it’s so tempting to think you can pin some of your marketing and advertising on certain summer sporting events. But be careful – the Games’ Marks are very carefully protected, and you can run into big trouble if you break the rules!

It may seem a bit harsh, but events do need to protect the investment of their sponsors, and this includes making sure that companies that haven’t paid for sponsorship don’t profit as much as those who have.

Thinking about it on more local terms, if you’ve bought kit for your local football team, and you go along to the match to see your company logo all over their kit, you’d be really annoyed to find a rival company at the gate, giving away merchandise with their information plastered all over it, but without any official status or paying for the privilege. Well, it’s really the same here.

There’s lots of information on this official website so I won’t repeat it. What I will repeat is: be careful. Just as you wouldn’t infringe other copyright, “borrowing” the typeface or logos of the market leader in your sector to confuse potential clients and drive them to buy your products, so you need to keep away from pushing the Olympic angle, unless, of course, you are an official sponsor or partner. Keep aware of the Games’ Marks and be careful, and you’ll be fine. Try to muscle in on the action, and you might find yourself with a hefty punishment.

*Note: I’m not trying to cash in myself with this post! I have had to mention this issue to a couple of my clients recently, so it seemed worth summarising it all in a more public place.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Be careful, Business, Ethics


Tags: , ,

What I got up to in April

Welcome to my April round up of what I’ve been getting up to. Do you find these round-up posts interesting? Would this series be better on my Libro Full-Time Blog? Do leave a comment, click on the share buttons or share my notifications on various social media locations!

Being self-employed full time

I was pretty busy for most of April and had to abandon a few attempts to get to networking events, but I did manage to make it to the Elizabeth Taylor Day in Reading and the BookCrossing meetup in town. I’m also much better at not worrying if it’s a quiet week. If it is quiet, I make sure I get some rest, catch up with my reading or work on my research project, rather than fretting.

Editing, writing, transcribing and proofreading

I’ve been busy with a variety of projects throughout April.

I started off the month finishing a batch of transcriptions for the international organisation I work for regularly. I also helped to recruit a few more transcribers for them, as I’m ideally placed to tell people EXACTLY what it’s like and make sure their expectations are set (“so, you’re going to be typing like a maniac for 8 hours a day, listening to non-native speakers of English talking about international affairs and taking their presentations down in a way that turns them into native English …”)

I did more work with my Master’s students including some pretty intense work to get their essays finished off for the beginning of the summer term, as well as proofreading other essays and dissertations for the student proofreading company I work for. In fact, looking back, it’s been a lot about the students this month!

I didn’t do a lot of writing for clients this month, but I did manage to finish writing my e-book (How I Conquered High Cholesterol) which is now in beta-testing and will shortly be available via Amazon.

I did a fair bit of US to UK English localisation for a couple of my clients, including working on a technical manual for some medical equipment, which was unusual and interesting! I do like the intellectual challenge of working out what “we” would say in a given situation, although I have to go off and refocus my mind when swapping between the two languages!

I’ve helped one regular client start to shape some blog posts into book form by editing them for consistency and taking out all the redundant bits, and I’ll be doing more editing for her in the coming month or so.

I’ve worked with the usual translators, too, of course – most of my clients are ongoing regulars now, which I like a lot!

Blogging and tax

I would be amazed if anyone didn’t know that I’d done my tax return in April (but here’s why, including the full horror of Going On To Payment On Account). Anyway, I know where I stand and what I’ve got to pay in tax this year, that’s all set aside and I’ve given myself the balance, so all set for a slightly less constrained year.

I’ve continued adding to my series of articles about using Word and my series of interviews with fellow small businesses , and I decided to put together a resource guide to the information to be found on my blog for businesses, students and Word users.

I published another five-sentence monthly newsletter – do sign up here for a quick read!

In more sociable news, I helped at the city centre Social Media Surgery session, and attended Social Media Cafe as usual (I wouldn’t miss that for the world). Finally, over on the Libro full-time blog I’ve added a few new resolutions to my list for Home Workers!

Coming up – transcription madness

I’m booked in for more transcription from late May into June, so I’ll turn into a hermit then (but I can’t wait to find out what happens to all the ongoing projects the organisation is working on!). Until then, I’m currently working on a rather technical geology text as well as the usual ongoing student, translator and editing bits and bobs.

Libro offers copyediting, copy writing, proofreading, transcription, typing and localisation services to other small businesses, individuals and corporations. Click on the links to find out more!


Tags: , , , , , ,