Street art becomes career for Great Yarmouth’s Banksy
A faded mural on an old container at Great Yarmouth College is evidence of Sam Harrons' past as a street artist inspired by urban legend Banksy.
But three years after completing that artwork, as well as others around the town, the entrepreneurial youngster is turning his talents into a business which has already gone international.
Sam, 20, of Angel Road, Norwich, has found a vibrant market for T-shirts printed with his distinctive SHhhh logo - once the sign-off tag reserved for his street art - and they can now even be spotted down under worn by Australian surfers he is sponsoring.
After trying to fit his business around an art degree course, he has decided to quit Norwich University College of the Arts to go full-time, basing his enterprise at Yarmouth College's Alchemy Centre.
Sam, who studied for a Btech national diploma in fine art at Yarmouth College, said: 'It is amazing how it has all come out of almost nothing. I was just fiddling with my initials and came up with SHhhh. I made a few T-shirts and sold them to friends and it quickly snowballed with their friends asking for them as well.'
His entrepreneurial spirit quickly led to a successful website - www.shhhhcollective.com - and he has even commissioned rock bearing his SHhhh logo from Yarmouth's famous rock shop Docwras to send to prospective buyers.
But until now, Sam has relied on the goodwill of local businesses where he worked part-time for the use of their printing equipment.
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At the Alchemy Centre workshop, opened in February by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a supportive home for new businesses, Sam has already buddied up with brothers Remi and Dennis Greer, 21, who are launching their own clothing enterprise, Capoloco. With the help of grants, they plan to buy and share printing equipment.
Sam has also been helped by one of the other 'Alchemists', carpenter and boat builder Glen Court, 39, who has made a workbench for him and the brothers.
Now limiting his output of SHhhh logo clothing to keep it exclusive, he has begun an ambitious new venture, the 11 Artists' Project.
'Each month I will be commissioning a new local artist whose work will be used on posters and other artwork as well as providing fresh T-shirt designs,' he said.
Sam, who as an 18-year-old was commended at a local Dragon's Den competition, has launched the project with his own work.
He is attracted by the constantly evolving nature of his business and is determined to continue to beat his own path, having rejected the approach of a potential London business partner.
Yarmouth College's head of enterprise Anu Babu highlighted the virtues of the Alchemy project, which started two years ago with a centre for office-based businesses.
She said: 'What is most important is how the entrepreneurs work together and the way business comes out of that networking.'