Living in Brighton as an Artist

Brighton's famous colourful beach huts along the oceanshore

What better office could there be than by the beach? We travel bloggers are often pictured to sip cocktails on hammocks in the shade of palm trees. But that is far from the #hustlerlife that it takes to keep the business that spans a blog, social channels and clients afloat. Now, however, I seem to have found the perfect balance in lovely Brighton and through a Brighton artist no less.

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Brighton's famous colourful beach huts along the oceanshore

Art by Brighton Beach

And I’ve met someone who lives and works by the beach, chasing their passion and turning it into beautiful art. Now if that doesn’t sound like the dream? I wanted to look behind the façade and stepped into a little shop full of wonders.

Just a few minutes west of the famous Brighton Pier, you can find a row of quaint shops side by side, nestled underneath the many arches of the old brick and mortar promenade. Among these, Studio 229 stood out to me in particular, its display of intricate prints in bright colours catching my attention.
Art by the beach – Peek into a Brighton Artist’s life
Here they were, the quaintest scenes of Brighton and the British South coast reimagined in layered compositions and minimalist drawings. I wanted to buy everything and decorate my imaginary home (you know, once I actually decide to settle down).

As you might know, I love art and try to see as much as I can when I travel (such as in art galleries in New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego mixed with exhibitions on fashion – which is art as well, if you ask me – such as from Gaultier or Dior). I was even inspired to put out my own drawings of world class destinations that impressed me so much, I created a little etsy shop for them.

Art by the beach – Peek into a Brighton Artist’s life

Brighton – An Artist’s Inspiration

But what do I know about the hustle behind exhibiting Brighton artists? Basically nothing and so I was excited to talk to Ulrika Jarl, a Swedish born artist who fell in love with Brighton at university and never looked back. “I’ve been here more than half my life now,” she says with a smile on her lips. Her love clearly shows in her heavily Scandinavian influenced work as it is centred around her home town of choice.

Pastel coloured beach huts, the white Brighton Pavilion against a baby blue sky and picturesque residential areas take you away to this coastal getaway. All her illustrations are drawn by hand, scanned and then cleaned up and filled on the computer. This way, the Brighton artist’s prints appear very sharp and can be easily printed on mugs and lamps in addition to more traditional formats, such as wall posters and postcards.

But don’t they take up a lot of time and effort to create with all these intricate details? “Yeah, you go crazy. But you know, you do a bit each day. But then once you’ve got it, you can do however many, unless you do limited edition.” But it is not only tourists that stock these lovely prints. Locals especially love the artist’s more subdued works, “some very specific [views] to certain areas of Brighton. You’ll know it if you live around there,” she adds.

In fact, her very first ink drawing depicted the view she had on her way to work. “I really liked the view and how many houses there were going into the distance. And then it kind just grew from there really.” Since then, she has quit her job and joined forces with three other artists, Sarah Jones, Holly Bell and Mike Moran, thus forming the little art gallery 229 Studio on Kings Road.

Brighton's famous colourful beach huts along the beach and promenade

Why Brighton Artists need to be on your radar in May

The Brighton artist quartet are currently prepping for the upcoming Artists Open Houses alongside Brighton Festival 2017, an annual event that sees local artists opening up their homes to curious visitors and art lovers on the weekends of May (that could be you!). But Ulrika does not just have one door to open, she has three. “I’m a little bit in denial about how much work I need to get done,“ she jokes. I admit I constantly am like that as well. I wish I could be in Brighton in May to see it.
Art by the beach – Peek into a Brighton Artist’s life
In fact, May is the month Ulrika recommends the most for visitors. Why? I wanted to know. It’s not just the lovely warming weather and off season time, but all the vibrancy and excitement that comes with festivals and open houses, “theatre, music and everything.” Her excitement is slowly building. “It’s such a great atmosphere in town. Always stuff going on, a lot of free performances. It just really feels like a festival.”

When asked for her favourite place to hang out it is here, she says, after pausing to think. Having two kids doesn’t give her much freedom to hang out much. “At least nowhere cool,” she adds with a slight chuckle. Still, for foodies she has two places she loves: Chilli Pickle for Indian food and Terre a Terre for vegan options. Brighton and especially the boutiques in the Lanes are ever changing, she points out. “There’s always new places opening up.”

A Brighton Artist’s Life by the Sea

Change seems to be something Ulrika craves every now and then. After all, she has just returned from a six month long trip with her family. A trait that she seems to share with the ocean. Asking her what she loves most about it, she dreamily gazes toward the grey-blue waves and muses about it looking different every time. “It changes. It’s really nice.”

Art by the beach – Peek into a Brighton Artist’s lifeThe ocean has been a constant in her busy life. After school, the Brighton artist escaped to Thailand for a while to learn diving and then teach her new skill in Honduras. “And actually thinking about it, I have almost always lived by the sea apart from London,” she muses. Something always seems to draw her back, more unconsciously than intentional. “It’s funny how it happened because it’s really not planned.”

That is why she is all the more happy about the place she is in now. “I can’t believe I live here, where people holiday. And it’s really nice to work. Right by the sea. When I lived in London, there was so much to do and so many art galleries to go to.” She reminds me to enjoy what you have and where you are, because we easily take it for granted and never take enough advantage of what’s right in front of us.

Before I part through the whitewashed doors and towards the rocky shore, the Brighton artist shares one last piece of wisdom, more like an afterthought than anything else, but true nonetheless. “If you don’t worry about stuff too much sometimes it just [works out].” Ocean, art and contentedness that is what I will associate with Brighton from now on.

Tell me: Did you know about the art scene of Brighton?

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