A FORMER director of a student union took the plunge to become an artist after his hobby turned into a job.
Chris Small traded supervision of the University of Southampton Students Union for sketches, and it all started with Bournemouth-based boxer Chris Billam-Smith.
“I originally drew television characters like Marvel and Disney for children, nieces, nephews and the children of friends,” said the 38-year-old.
“I saw Chris Billam-Smith a few months later fighting for his Commonwealth title. I asked him on social media if he would like a sketch to commemorate him and he said it would be amazing.
“About a week later he came to get the sketch and that’s where it all started. ”
After painting the boxer, Mr. Small painted Lerrone Richards and Michael Watson very early on, in front of a sports legend.
He said: “Johnny Nelson was at a Floyd Mayweather event, walking out I asked him if he would like me to do something with him. I did and it’s now signed and framed.
Since then he has painted many stars of the boxing world, including GB team gold medalist Luke Campbell and Roman Gonzalez, who won titles in four weight categories.
The latter made contact after seeing online a play by Bruce Lee produced by Mr. Small.
The list of boxers only grew from there with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya; which has two.
Mr Small added: “It is spreading now and the plan is to continue posting images. The fact that I have paintings hanging in Australia, South Africa, Germany, the United States is just crazy. ”
Having no qualifications in the art beyond GCSE, Mr. Small originally wanted to simply get “things signed” by professional sportspeople.
He said he would like to be able to work with Sugar Ray Leonard and Lennox Lewis, who recently retweeted his work.
Until a month ago, the artwork was just a hobby before it started receiving requests for orders online.
“I couldn’t fit it to a job, the plan was to take a step back to give myself more time for the artwork,” he added.
Mr Small said his wife had been “really supportive” despite transforming the dining room into a studio.
Although he mainly produced artwork on boxing stars, Mr Small said he was able to meet a multitude of requests.
He currently has artwork at David Lloyd’s in Poole and is open to orders with more information and other examples of his work available on chrissmall.art.