Published: February 11, 2022 | Updated: February 12, 2022

Sitting on the fence? ‘Just do it’ says cow artist Lucy, known for her highly original Moo Selfies

By Andrew Diprose, editor

“Just do it.”

Lucy Tidbury’s three-word advice to anyone thinking about making a change.

It could be starting your business or doing something different with your career.

Either way, the artist and gallery owner best known for her Moo Selfies range, urges people not to sit on the fence.

She said: “It might seem like there’s never the right time, but if you don’t do it you’ll never know.

“Yes, it’s terrifying but it’s also incredibly exciting.

“For me, it was scary giving up a full-time job, a salary, sick pay, pension, holiday, etc to be self-employed.

“Suddenly I was out there on my own, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

“I made it work because I had to.

“I love my job.

“I might work harder than I ever have in my life but it’s worth it.

“Now I’ve learned how to have a little more balance in life, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Lucy, 36, studied art at both the Arts University Bournemouth and University of Chichester, graduating in 2007.

She said: “After a bit of time doing a few odd jobs and travelling, I settled into a full-time role in HR for a large insurance company.

“I felt under pressure to earn a salary, get a mortgage and settle down.

“I did my art alongside my HR role, but there was always a niggling feeling that this wasn’t right for me.

“So, in 2014, I took the leap to focus on my art full-time.

“I handed my notice in on my ‘proper job’ and went for it.

“If I wasn’t going to do it now, I never would.

“I had this terrifying feeling in my mind that I would regret it.

“I had been growing my art business for some years alongside my job and felt I’d really started to build a brand and recognisable style, so it was time to throw everything at it.

“I started working from home, exhibiting at shows, selling online, and painting commissions.

“But in 2017, it was time to move out of the house and I opened my gallery/shop in Swanage.

“I outgrew that shop and moved to new premises in 2019.

“I now have the gallery and a team of four lovely ladies who help run the shop and deal with online orders.

“This gives me more time to paint and head out on the road to exhibitions and shows.

“I also stock around 20 other shops/gift shops and farm shops, which keeps us all busy.”

Lucy, who lives near Wareham, got the inspiration for her Moo Selfies from cows peering over the fence at her mum’s house.

She painted one and it proved popular when she took it to a show.

However, it was only after joining Purbeck Art Weeks that Lucy decided to make the cows specific to the area and came up with idea of Moo selfies.

Once photographed they’re turned into prints, greeting cards and a range of gifts and kitchenware.

Lucy has also expanded over the years to include a variety of animals from sheep and pigs to alpacas, donkeys, and goats.

She also paints pet portraits and can often be seen working on commissions in her shop, closely supervised by her two sprocker spaniels, Ned and Nelly.

Next month Lucy is one of the speakers at a Link & Learn event on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Nicky Rudd, pictured left, Founder and Managing Director of Padua Communications, the content and PR agency, has brought together an impressive line-up of inspirational speakers, including Lucy.

So does Lucy feel her career has been affected by gender bias?

She said: “Yes, absolutely.

“The one thing that frustrates me the most is the assumptions some people have made over the years about myself and my business.

“I often get asked by people if I make a living from being an artist and that is often followed by the question ‘What does your husband do?’

“There is this odd idea that you can’t possibly make a living as an artist unless you have a wealthy partner backing you.

“I assure you that is not the case!

“My husband is incredibly supportive of my business in so many ways but not financially.

“I have built my business myself through hard work and I’m not just painting cows for a bit of ‘pin money’.

“Would you ask a successful male artist what his wife does for a living?”

As for her talk at the Link & Learn event, Lucy said: “It’s so important to celebrate women’s achievements and to encourage and support other females in business.

“I love to share my story with other women and to hear about other people’s experiences, both good and bad.

“I hope that what I say inspires other women, but I also hope to learn and feel inspired by the other exceptional women at the event.

“Visitors can expect to hear about my business journey, the stereotypes and assumptions I’ve had to overcome, and how you can build a successful business in the creative industry, despite the misconceptions.

“I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years about what is important to me.

“Hopefully sharing that might prompt other people to stop, think, and prioritise what’s most important to them.”

Tickets to the ‘Link & Learn’ event at Minstead Trust’s Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Lyndhurst are priced at £18, including lunch and refreshments.

All proceeds go to the Minstead Trust.

Spaces are limited so booking is encouraged through Eventbrite to secure a place.