I have a second office, away from all the hubbub of home.
I love my home – I love all that makes it home – my wife, my dogs, my cats, the overstacked bookcases, Alexa shouting at me when I haven’t asked her to… you get the picture.
The noise, the laughter and the chaos we like to believe is organised are part of what makes our house a home… and they’re precisely why I need a second working space.
My second office isn’t actually an ‘office’ at all. It’s a coffee shop. There’s a lovely little nook towards the back that provides just enough privacy to sit and plan, vision, write and meet my coaching clients.
That table at the back might as well have ‘RESERVED FOR TAZ’ marked on it. It’s where I always sit, and I’m there a lot.
I’ve been going to this particular coffee house since it opened. I’m on first name terms with most of the staff members. I’m Facebook friends with some of them too. They’re a really cracking team and they make spending time there an absolute pleasure.
One day, I overheard a partial conversation while I was waiting for my one shot oatmilk flat white. One of the baristas, Joey, was talking about getting some new paints.
I’m a nosey kind of gal – comes with the territory for a former journalist and editor, even more so for a coach.
“Whatcha painting?” I asked.
Joey explained that his hobby was painting. He liked to use his quiet time with a canvas and paint brushes – it was a way to get into a creative, meditative space once his kids had gone to bed. His painting was pure expression.
“What do you paint? What kinds of things?”
Joey told me his work was mainly abstract, that he liked to experiment with mediums and that some of his friends had even asked him to paint pieces for them.
“Sounds awesome,” I said, “Do you have any pictures of your work? I’d love to see.”
He shook his head.
Fortunately, his fellow barista spoke up. “You do have some pictures, Joey,” she encouraged, “Get your phone – show Taz your art.”
At first, I think Joey was a bit reluctant, but, when I saw his work, he really had no reason to be shy!
Bright, movement leapt through the screen – splashes of colour, brilliant energies all dancing together across the canvases. So much personality in each mood-swaying, thought-provoking piece.
I asked if he was selling his work.
“Oh no, I could never sell it, Taz.”
“But didn’t you just say your friends were commissioning you to paint for them?”
“Yeah, but I don’t charge for them. I couldn’t do that.”
“Why ever not?”
Joey shrugged: “Because it’s just me. It’s just what I do in my downtime. I wouldn’t expect people to actually pay for it.”
Smiling encouragingly, the other barista chipped in: “It’s because he doesn’t have the confidence yet, Taz. He’ll come up with all kinds of reasons, but that’s what it comes down to.”
Joey and I exchanged a look.
“This is good artwork,” I said, “Wouldn’t being paid for something you love doing, something you have a talent for, really help you? Wouldn’t that be extra income for you and your family, for your kids? Couldn’t you do with that alongside your wages?”
Joey nodded: “Well, yeah, of course. That would be fantastic.”
Right then and there, I made a decision. I was going to do something to give Joey a bit of encouragement and, hopefully, secure myself a beautiful, original Joey Lowe painting.
I asked Joey if he’d paint something for me, in my colours. He agreed straight away. And then I said I would only commission him to paint for me if he’d allow me to pay for his work.
I’m a bit like a dog with a bone once an idea like this hits, and there was no way I was going to back down!
We discussed the size of the canvas, colours and, though he wasn’t entirely at ease with it, the price of my investment. Joey had no idea where to start, so I made an offer. He tried to haggle me down, I stuck to my price. I even said there was no time scale on it… I’d wait patiently for my painting to arrive, however long it took.
Back at my seat, I reached into my pocket to see how much cash I had. I rarely carry notes but, as luck would have it, I had £30. I wrote a note on a post-it, reaffirming our contract and noting down the £30 as my deposit, together with my phone number and a reminder that there was no rush. Art needs to be nurtured, to grow, to come alive at its own pace.
I stuck the post-it note onto onto the cash, rolled it up and slipped it into Joey’s hand before I left.
Some weeks later, I received a text message. It was from Joey. My artwork was complete.
We arranged a time to collect it and, sure enough, I was blown away by the amazing artwork Joey had created for me.
As my brand colours are pinks and purples, he’d called it ‘Punkable’.
My artwork was – is – stunning. Energy, movement, wonderful layers of texture. I see something new each time I gaze at the canvas.
Of course, Joey tried to turn down the rest of the payment, but I insisted.
I am now the proud owner of the first officially commissioned artwork by Joey Lowe – and that, ladies and gentlepeople, is priceless!
I’m hoping Joey’s confidence grows from here. As I write this, he’s waiting to see if some of his pieces have been accepted into an exhibition. I’m sure they will be, though I’ll feel immensely proud of him regardless – it’s entering them in the first place that counts.
Joey doesn’t yet have a website. Maybe that will come after a few more commissions. Maybe some of those commissions will come from people reading this column. Maybe, some day, you’ll look back and thank me for connecting you with a young artist whose work became the talk of the town, in huge demand and with high price points.
If you *want* to be that person, drop me a line and I’ll connect you with Joey – one of the UK’s most worthy, humble and beautiful abstract artists. His work is full of promise and I can’t wait to see him grow from here.
And now, dear readers, over to you. Regardless of whether your home or office ever contains a Joey Lowe piece, what could you be doing to inspire, encourage and support the Joeys of your home town?
Artists, writers, poets, creatives, those with big ideas and hearts to match. The visionaries. The changemakers. The inspirers. Who are they? What can you do? How can you help?
It doesn’t need to be a financial commitment – kind words and positive encouragement often go a long way too.
Until next time,