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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Highlands Brush With Art World Success

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A Scottish bestseller who started his writing career in the Highlands is enjoying a new lease of life as an acclaimed artist.

Tony Black, who cut his teeth as a reporter in the Highland capital before turning to mystery novels, has traded in his pen for a paintbrush and is enjoying international success.

The writer, who collected eight CWA (Crime Writers Association) Dagger nominations for his novels said there were a few clues he would one day turn to art.

“Art was always my first love,” said Tony, 50, “but I never dreamed I’d be able to make a living at it and that’s why I started writing.”

After landing a six-book deal with the then biggest publisher in the world, Random House in 2007, Tony soon saw his work hit the bestsellers lists, but later turned to painting to avoid burnout.

“I’d lock myself in the garage and paint,” said Tony, “I’d always painted, but at some point the balance tipped.

“People started to come round to look in my garage at all the paintings on the walls and I got the shock of my life when they started to offer me money for them.

“I was soon in galleries all over the country, incredibly even in London, and I had a publishing deal for my limited-edition prints with prestigious Portfolio Fine Art.”

For the art publisher, Portfolio Fine Art, one of Tony’s first projects was to commit his favourite writers to canvas. 

The Scottish creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and national poet Robert Burns, rendered in the artist’s brilliantly colourful and original style, were first off the easel.

There followed portraits of crime queen Agatha Christie, Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley and the one and only William Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, original artworks were selling in droves to Germany, the USA, Ireland, and Venezuela, which Tony says was his “strangest, far-away commission”.

“This all occurred overnight, with little or no real effort on my part, which blew my mind because as a writer it took me ten-years to be an overnight success,” he added.

After calls to make his works available for products as wide ranging as ladies’ leggings and skateboards, the writer turned artist hooked up with a team of specialist merchandisers to create a one-stop shop online.

Tony said:

“There was a few instances where people got in touch to buy paintings that had already sold and I thought I had to have something to offer these people so they didn’t feel like they’d missed out. 

“That’s where the website idea came from, it wasn’t my own initiative, I couldn’t work the tech to be honest, but I’m in very good hands.”

Tony Black’s online gallery showcases his artwork at www.tonyblackarts.com where a 20% discount is currently on offer and will run until the New Year, giving buyers the chance to snap up Christmas gifts like mugs, aprons, coasters and mouse mats. 

Tony’s limited edition prints, including his writers series, which also includes 1984 author George Orwell, and more of Tony’s original artworks are available from Portfolio Fine Art at www.portfoliofineart.com

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