Home Business Heroes: Michelle Gibbs

Name: Michelle Gibbs

Location: Portsmouth

Business: www.art2arts.co.uk

This week we speak to Michelle Gibbs, founder of Arts2Arts. Her business began when she started selling her own paintings, which she had made using an ironing board from her parents utility room. Fast-forward eight years and her website is the shop window for over 200 artists and selling over 100 works of art a month.

How did it all begin?

I started just before I went to university. I was decorating my room and I did some paintings for it. Then my sister asked if I would do one for her lounge, her friends then asked for some of my work too. I took a loan from my dad to buy some art material and I started doing painting parties for friends and family. After all this I decided to set-up an eBay shop, which was doing quite well and next I launched my own website.

I got lucky as I found a web designer who was starting up himself and he agreed to build me a basic website in exchange for a painting. I was still studying at university while all this happened.


How did you drive traffic to your website?

As soon as I had my website I started looking into Google pay per click, I wasn't 100% sure what I was doing as it was all very new but I've learnt as I've gone along. I then started looking at other artists' work and asked them if they'd like to feature on my website as a guest artist. That was three years ago and now arts2arts has over 200 artists on there. I've also outsourced to an SEO company.

What's the business model?

The artists sell their work through my site and I take a commission on sales. It's free for them to join the site too. On average I sell around 100 paintings a month. I'm selective about the artists I take on too as they have to be good.

Where are you based?

When I first started I painted on an ironing board in my parents utility room, which was about the size of a shoebox. Then we moved house and I painted in the garage, which was freezing. Now' I've got my own house and we've got a garage at the bottom of the garden which I've had insulated and that's where I have my own office. It's nice to shut the door at the end of the day and feel like you're finishing. Although, you never really finish as I still have my computer in the house so I'm constantly working really.


Do you try to work set hours?

I try to start no later than 8am and I tend to finish at around 5pm as that's when I walk my dog, but I'm continually getting emails on my phone. It's hard to switch off when you're running your own business. I find the only way is to leave the country, but even then I have to take my laptop with me. I think  there's a lot to be said for a job where you can switch off at the end of the day or one where you can book a holiday and actually have a holiday. When you're by yourself it's never like that, but then again, I wouldn't change it.

Do you find it hard to focus yourself?

I go through stages. Sometimes I'm really focused but other times I find that I'm staring at the computer without any motivation. It's also hard making sure you've done the housework and the shopping, otherwise I'll build it into my day when I shouldn't. I should just be at work.

Do you ever go the whole day without talking to anyone?

Definitely. My communication with people is via email. I could go all day without having a phone call or speaking to people, it can get quite lonely and you do miss that social interaction, especially for me, as I'm a social person. Going to the gym and mixing with people helps break it up a bit.  I do listen to a lot of music too, just to have some noise.


What's the best thing about working from home?

I never get that dreaded Sunday feeling that people get  when they have work the next day.

What's the hardest?

Not being able to switch off. When you run your own business, you live and breathe it, but if you enjoy it you don't mind spending the extra time as you know it's only going to benefit you.

Will you ever move to an office?




I won't move to an office, as you have to pay for it. I might try and get a bigger studio space but it think basing myself at home works well as you don't have the large overheads and I never have to drive to work with the morning traffic. I would love to have my own gallery though. That's my dream.

For more information about Arts2Arts, click here

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