It was originally supposed to be a 24-page pamphlet. But when university lecturer Claire Sambrook discovered just how many creative industries were concentrated in this island community, it quickly turned into a 96-page book.
Creative Portsmouth is her attempt to showcase the individuals and businesses whose flair and imagination have led to some major success, but who may not be widely known about in their own city.
It’s the first publication of its kind to promote the city as a mecca for creativity. From established designers to up-and-coming young artists and students, contributors reveal why they love Portsmouth.
Many of the people and companies Claire came across have national and international profiles and she wanted to mark their achievements and tell the rest of the world that Portsmouth is the place to be.
Claire, who works in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth, says: ‘We have something special here in Portsmouth. It’s a place which seems to attract creative people who fall in love with the city and simply never leave, building lives, homes, careers and setting up in business.
‘Their genuine love of the place is evident because so many of them incorporate it into their work. From photographers and graphic designers to street artists, there’s something about this city which seems to inspire people to make it a part of their art.’
She adds: ‘What might surprise a lot of people is just how successful many of them are. They have offices in Portsmouth, but they’re operating at a national and sometimes international level. It shows you don’t have to be based in London or Brighton to build a name for yourself.’
Claire believes that Portsmouth has creativity coursing through its veins and points to how its strong maritime connections as home of the Royal Navy have placed it at the forefront of industrial innovation and design.
Today all sorts of people are putting Portsmouth on the creative map. People might recognise some of the well-established names in the book such as Jan Williams and the quirky Caravan Gallery and Southsea jewellery designer Barbara Tipple, whose business has outlets in London and is flourishing in the USA.
But one of the aims of the book is to highlight highly successful alternative businesses who are not so well-known, such as Gunwharf-based computer game designers Climax Studios and I Love Dust, a design studio set up by graduates of the uni’s BA Visual Communication course.
The company, which designed and produced the Creative Portsmouth book, has offices in Portsmouth and London and counts Nike and MTV among its customers.
Claire says: ‘The book is for anyone who loves Portsmouth. It’s part-scrapbook, part-city guide and it’s a bible for anyone thinking of setting up in business here.
‘It references Portsmouth’s creative capital in a way which hasn’t been done before and represents tangible proof that the city is literally exploding with creative talent.’
Production and printing costs for the book have been funded by the university, with support from Portsmouth City Council.
Mark Baker, head of the university’s Department of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services, says: ‘Portsmouth has a long tradition of creativity and the creative businesses and the organisations featured in this book employ many people across our city.
‘What really excites me is that these businesses have the potential to employ many more people and I hope that by showcasing their talents in this book they will be able to attract more customers and encourage creative businesses from outside the area to make Portsmouth their home.’