Encouraging creative entrepreneurs
Chris Park’s story shows how Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design encourage creative entrepreneurs. The skills that Chris developed, and the support that he received, encouraged him to embark upon a risky – but ultimately successful – endeavour.
When everyone thinks what you’re about to do is a really bad idea, what do you do? Do it anyway?
If you’re comfortable taking risks and using different mediums like Chris Park, your answer might be yes.
While he was studying fine art at DJCAD, Chris worked his way through painting and printmaking before settling on photography. This was something he’d been involved with for a long time – by the age of 14 he was already working seriously on portrait photography.
When he graduated Chris spent 3 months in Florence on the John Kinross Scholarship. He then landed a six-month internship at Edinburgh’s Stills Gallery. After that, he worked as an advertising agency graphic designer. He continued to pursue freelance photography alongside his job.
But the photography quickly took over and Chris took his first risky plunge to became a sole trader.
He’d always been keen on fashion photography, so he focused on building up his experience. He found his clients from amongst Edinburgh fashion designers and retailers. There was one in particular which inspired him more than the others: Strathberry.
Strathberry was the new luxury accessories brand on the Scottish scene. Chris worked with founders Guy and Leeanne Hundleby on product and campaign shoots and struck up a firm friendship.
Guy and Chris would discuss creative and business strategies at length and Strathberry became Chris’ obsession. Around Christmas 2014, Chris was offered a share of the company to commit himself fully.
This brings us back to our earlier question. Everyone Chris spoke to felt abandoning his established practice to concentrate all efforts on a young and yet to be proven company was a huge risk, and advised him against doing so. But as Chris put it:
"The dialogue at DJCAD was both critical and supportive, which I feel allowed me to take risks and move through different mediums and approaches. Honing this agile approach to work has prepared me for professional life after art school."Chris Park
Chris dived in wholeheartedly and by 2016 Strathberry turned over a remarkable £4M.
The company now works from a three-storey townhouse in Edinburgh’s West End, with a diverse team of 16. They mostly sell online, but are also stocked in departments stores globally, boasting key locations across America, China Hong Kong and Middle East. They exhibit at the New York and Paris fashion weeks.
Chris is still shooting Strathberry’s campaigns. But now he is not only the photographer, but the client, too.