Is there anything sweeter than the words “I told you so?”.
Well maybe, but for those starting off a new career, this can be a big motivator. A passion fuelled with doubt from others, may just be the secret ingredient you need to succeed. With the esteemed title of Creative Director at a local agency and owner of ManMade Art, you would never know that Doug Jackson was not formally trained in the arts.
Originally employed as a cartographer, Doug left his government job and made a pivotal jump into the art scene. I was lucky to sit down with the man behind our very popular prints and discuss how his passion came to fruition, the message behind his artwork and how hooking up with Maker House has been a monumental step in establishing his business.
Doug landed his first big gig with a lot of preparation and a bit of luck. He recalls that his portfolio at the time was slightly unconventional; cartography was what he knew and used his skill set to draw parallels to the creative industry. This was the notorious period in his life he claimed to be “faking it” and was eager to prove to others that he could succeed.
“So you don’t actually have any idea what you’re doing, do you?”
“Shhh, don’t tell anyone. I’ll figure it out”.
Doug remembers these types of conversations vividly. “I was really just walking around learning as much as I could, hoping that no one would catch on.”
Several jobs and a handful of years later, Doug is now considered a veteran in the creative industry and has landed the title of Creative Director at a reputable agency. He “made it”, but with a ridiculous amount of hard work.
His creative pursuits have now evolved into something of his own. In 2015, after a request from his stepson for original artwork, ManMade Art became a reality. Doug faced doubts from others about the viability of his business, and once again, was keen to prove them wrong. In his years of experience, he learned that if you’re going to start something, you need to find a way to connect with others. “You need to tap into their emotions. People choose to hang things in their home as a form of self-expression. You need to remember that”
And that’s exactly what he has been able to accomplish with his prints. Not only are Manmade Art prints aesthetically pleasing at first glance, but the level of detail and symbolism in each piece is what continues to connect others to his artwork. Much of Doug’s inspiration comes from history. “There is something powerful to be said about lineage. Whether it be an object or place, history serves as a connecting force.”
Doug has a strong interest in sharing things from another place and time, with the goal to get others to think about these significant cultural moments. “It’s really exciting to witness younger generations explore the ideas of my prints and say, 'wow, I’d like to put that on my wall.'”
Currently, ManMade Art prints can be found in half a dozen stores and are shipped to all corners of North America. With the growing demand and more than enough work to keep him busy full-time, Doug considers himself to have “made it” again. The part that he admits to “faking” at first, was the business side of things. “I am a creative and have never considered myself a business person at heart”. But having a quality product, coupled with lots of hard work and a few good connections have paid off.
One of those connections was through Maker House. He claims that if it weren’t for Maker House’s storefront, he probably wouldn’t have the business he has today. “The amount of traffic through word of mouth since teaming up with Maker House has been so valuable to the growth of my business.” Much of that he believes is due to the strong artist community that Maker House and Ottawa foster. “There is no competition, we’re all eager to help one another succeed and are usually more excited about what others are doing.”
Doug encourages anyone with a genuine passion to throw themselves into the industry. "We're all kind of faking it first, but eventually you learn the ropes." His vision for ManMade Art is to expand and continue his reach across Canada. This means a bigger investment in shows and marketing - so get ready to see a lot more of this talent coming your way!
Until next-time Maker-friends!
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