My passion: using art to make an impact
When one of our Portfolio Directors started drawing and painting in his spare time, he never expected to be shortlisted for an internationally renowned award only a few years later. We spoke to Mike Pickett about how he’s using his talents to support causes close to his heart.
“It all happened by accident,” says Mike Pickett, a Cazenove Capital Portfolio Director. Mike took up drawing and painting from scratch after wandering into an art shop in 2018. Last year, he was shortlisted as a finalist for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation “Wildlife Artist of the Year” award.
“I decided to enter the awards without expecting much to come from it,” says Mike. “There were about 1,800 submissions, I believe. When they wrote back to me months later saying that I had been shortlisted as one of the finalists, I had to re-read it. I thought they had made a mistake!”
When it comes to formal training, Mike has no background in art, “other than just suddenly having the urge to do something new and mindful”.
“It all started with human faces. If you look closely at someone’s face, there’s so much going on. We’re all different and so interesting in our own way. I then moved into wanting to do more with animals and, in turn, conservation. The art has all been a series of ‘accidents’, but I have always wanted to do more in terms of impact in the world.”
Art with an impact
Mike has already raised substantial sums for causes he’s passionate about by selling his artwork. These range from wildlife conservation to charities supporting mental health.
During the 2020 wildfires in Australia, he auctioned off an artwork of a koala to raise money for WWF Australia. He also raised £6,500 for a community project in Africa that supported people living in poverty during the pandemic. His artwork, shortlisted by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, has also been sold to raise funds for the organisation.
Shortlisted by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for “Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022”
He has also produced pieces to support mental health charities. “This is a cause that is very close to my heart. It’s something that I’ve struggled with at times and many of us struggle with.” He is currently working on a painting for Beder, an organisation that raises awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.
“While I like going to a gallery or museum, I don’t get particularly inspired by going to look at a Picasso or any number of the amazing artists that we’ve been graced with for hundreds of years. I get inspired by the people and things around me that I see every day,” he explains.
"Someone once said to me, ‘if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’. I really get inspired by people in life who ‘build their own doors’."
One of these people is Steven Bartlett whose interview you can read here. Mike sketched a portrait of him after enjoying his podcasts and serendipitously had the opportunity to meet Steven months later. “I often draw people that have either inspired or moved me in some way.”
Balancing pictures and portfolios
Mike finds his day job, as a Portfolio Director, offers plenty of stimulus for his artwork. “I work with great people both internally and externally, including clients, advisers and other people in our networks. I love collaborating with people and building long-term relationships through the compassionate and entrepreneurial culture that we have at Cazenove Capital,” says Mike.
When asked how he finds the time for his artwork alongside his career, he says: “Art is a different mindset – it uses a different part of the brain and I find it a great way to unwind. Creative arts are now prescribed by the NHS to improve mental well-being. Art therapy is a thing for a reason.
“I find the balance quite easy because, although I work very long hours doing the two things, it often doesn’t feel like work. You find yourself refreshed when you come back from one to the other. When you love something, it’s very easy to make time for it,” he adds.
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