Dave Martin, 58, Tesco, Brook Green, Hammersmith, London

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I’ve been selling The Big Issue for over eight years now, but in that time I’ve developed an interest in art. I had a placement in the Northern Trust bank in Canary Wharf in 2016, and currently have one at data science company Dunnhumby near my pitch one day a week. I had an exhibition there last year and I’ve got another one coming up shortly at River Studios in North London, near to where I live. 

To start with I just came up with an idea about shapes and colours and then I thought, well, do it on A4. So I got coloured art cards, I’m printing all these shapes – diamonds, squares, circles and what have you – and for some reason I tended to get a good match with the colours. People seem to like my combinations, more so than my shapes. 

I’ve been thinking about my past, and what gave me the idea – I used to work in a garage in Derby, where I’m from. I used to mix the paint for car spray, using different shades of colours. Maybe part of it came from there. Shapes-wise, I remember my grandmother having a tea mat that was just diamonds, it was an elaborate pattern. When people ask me I usually say it suddenly came to me but I think I got it from there. 

I’m selling the odd thing now. I’ve got this guy called Gavin, he does my prints. He’s got his own business, he’s a designer as well. He’ll scan my originals and then he’ll make them up. I display some of them on my pitch, some of my customers will pick one and then we’ll arrange a meet and do the sale. I sold an original a couple of years ago for £200. We did the sale in Costa! That was through The Big Issue. A woman rang in, a price was discussed and before I knew it I’d got a phone call, we met up and we did the deal. 

I did a piece that someone said looked like a Matisse – at that point I didn’t even know that he did paper cut-outs. I’d already done a Matisse lookalike before I found out about this! I’m sort of connected with him. To tell you the truth, I think the inspiration just comes from me. I have found out that my work is similar to many other artists, but not the same. I have my own individual style. 

Most of the time I’m selling The Big Issue, and I have to commute from North to West London. I don’t have a lot of time to do my art. 

I’m grateful for the placement I have at the moment. I’ve got my own little table and chair, I’ve got my own space, so I can come up with ideas. And it’s near my pitch. It means a lot. I can sell The Big Issue when I’m in there too. 

I’ve been in Street Art in the mag a couple of times. It alerted people who see me on my pitch to the fact I was an artist, I think they were quite surprised! Now more people are finding out it’s me I’m selling the odd one – I do display my designs on my pitch. With this exhibition coming up things are looking good. I’m even getting a website together. 

Images: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Tesco Metro, Hammersmith, London, UK

The Big Issue

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