Jon – Age 73

“You have got to follow your creative talents wherever they may take you. Since retiring I have had time to travel and meet new people. A highlight has been working with young people in Nepal, helping them explore their creativity.”

I was born in London and I went to two colleges in London, Campbell School of Art and then the Slate School of Art for an MA course and then I practiced as a silk screen printer for a number of years, working with a company and printing on leather for fashion goods. I also did some part time teaching at various colleges but mixing the two wasn’t so wonderful, so I put my energies into higher education and went and taught at various art schools up and down the country.

In 1973 I was appointed Principal Lecturer at Winchester School of Arts where I then spent time developing the creative elements of hundreds of students for the next 25 years. Then I took early retirement and since then I’ve been developing my printing and exhibiting up until now. I enjoyed interviewing potential young talent and seeing them develop through the course. One of the memorable things when I was teaching was taking the students on trips abroad. I took them to Paris, to fashion shows and exhibitions and to Milan to visit the textile industry and to New York to visit the interior designers and see all that was happening there. During my freelance work I was invited by the Department of Overseas Development to go to the Caribbean and set up small workshops of screen printing so I could train the local people to print potential items that could be sold to the people coming off the boats visiting the islands.

My advice would be to stay with what you believe in and if you feel that you’re in a degree course and it’s not for you then don’t stay with it just to please your family or whatever. You’ve got to follow your creative talents, wherever it may take you. I like having time now to meet people and time to travel. A great deal of my work comes from Asia and South East Asia, so I visit places like Nepal, China, Philippines fairly regularly to get stimulation.

The most exciting thing I’ve done since being retired is developing young people in Nepal, I taught them English language and also how to be creative, I spent 8 years there doing research on plant life and also teaching in the school. I’m here in Brighton because I have the space. My word of wisdom to younger people would be not to get tied up financially with lots of credit cards and those kind of things, make sure you live by the means by which you get your income and don’t live by excess. And if you do that then you will gradually build your own steady income and you won’t have to rely on these extortionate cards and bank loans.