It was a loving birthday gift that led to Adam Salisbury rediscovering a lost love for one of his greatest passions, art.
What the Lancashire artist had not envisioned was a dinosaur wall mural he masterminded for his son’s third birthday would see his hobby spark a global following within just four years.
After uploading those first early pictures, Adam shared videos and time-lapse sequences of his art in action, most notably on the social media platform Tik Tok, and they have now wracked up more than 50m viewings across more than 200 countries.
He has more than 500,000 followers across his various platforms and growing.
Going back to the drawing pad is now much more than a part-time hobby with the Bispham ‘Banksy’ working hard to build a career from his commissions.
It’s quite remarkable for the 30-year-old, who for five years after leaving college didn’t so much as pick up a pencil.
The former Collegiate High School pupils says: “I was drawing and creating for as long as I remember- I loved it.
“It was one of my early teachers who told my mum I’d be the next ‘Lowry’ the trouble was when I was younger, I was fine when I was left to the creative side but I just wanted to draw, the essay writing, explaining why and the meaning behind it, I had no interest and I wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I went to art college and had the ambition but there were those people around at that time who doubted me and it affected me - I had very low self esteem sayng things like ‘It’s OK being able to draw but what can you do with art?’
“It did get in my head and got to a point where it was holding me back but then as I got older I just fell out of love with it and that was it - I got a job and that was that.”
Adam did move on to college to pursue a National Diploma in Art and Design but it was a series of life events including breaking his arm and his grandfather passing away that hindered his progress.
Ironically, it was his late grandad Robert Worthington who had inspired his creative talents, as he explains, “I was always wanting to build and create stuff with him in his workshop and I just found I had this ability to do it.
“If I wasn’t drawing I was making sculptures, models from all sorts of materials and PVA glue.
“My mum told the story of when I was two and I’d asked her to draw a cat or a mouse, I looked at it and said ‘That’s not how you draw it’ and picked up a pencil and did it myself.”
Adam instead ventured down the path of retail, taking work at Sainsbury’s and working himself up to part of the management team.
It was the birth of his first child Logan in 2011 when he started to re-evaluate. He says becoming a father brought him a whole new perspective on life.
Adam recalls, “He completely changed my life, suddenly everything I was doing was for someone else - I needed the stability of an income and I was working really hard at Sainsbury’s and it was at that time I worked myself into management and was running my own store.”
It was the approach of Logan’s third birthday in 2015 which sparked an idea, which inspired Adam to pull out the paints and re-design
He explains, “Logan loved dinosaurs and I don’t where it came from but I suddenly had this urge and energy to paint him a dinosaur bedroom.
“I was working 50 hour weeks but I set myself three months to complete it in. I drew it all free hand and hand painted it - I’d be going until 1am and up at 5.30am just to have it done.
“I had no idea after not painting for so long how it would turn out but the further I got with it - the more I wanted to test my skills, I was in my own world again.
“And the reaction was just amazing -totally worth it. It was filming that and uploading it to Facebook that got about 2,000 views.
“But he was my motivation, having him sparked that passion again.”
Adam began taking on locally based commissions to rebuild his interests and documenting his progress online, mainly through Facebook.
As his work built up he gradually reduced his hours at Sainsburys to focus on his dream.
He says, “People thought I was mad, I’d built up a career in retail but I knew this is what I’d always wanted to do so it was the leap of faith and social media was transforming the way I could get my work out there. It was crazy.”
Adam completed a bespoke mural for the children’s ward at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and created a further bedroom showpiece for his second son Harry, both of which he shared online.
Since then his works on his new found art journey have included Marvel characters, The Greatest Showman, Disney creations to Marilyn Monroe but he says the game-changer came online when he uploaded a time-lapse of his drawing of Harry Potter.
He says, “Without social media I would not be doing what I am now, it has opened doors to so many fantastic opportunities and to have your work shared across the whole world, it’s just incredible.
“There is a lot said about the down sides to it but when it is used positively, with the right tools, there are so many rewards.
“For me it’s been fantastic, engaging with so many different people. I’ve had my art shared with 20 different viral companies.
“I started with the usual channels but it was a colleague at Sainsburys who introduced me to Tik Tok, I’d not heard of it but I downloaded the app and started uploading my videos and the reaction was just insane.”
TikTok is a global destination platform for short-form mobile videos, where creators can share their passions through creative content.
On releasing his first videos Adam amassed an online following of 27,000 followers in just two weeks.
“It was my Harry Potter video that really went to that next level - within 12 hours it had had 1.1m views and then it just exploded with 8.5m views.
“That’s when I actually had the confidence to get a bit more creative with the vlogging itself and wanted to branch out and share more of my personality.”
He is now collaborating with other brands and gaining interest through various sponsorship opportunities but has set his sights on bigger goals.
While clocking up the likes, he wants to turn the clicks to more regular commissions as well as using his platform to inspire, share, develop and tutor other creators.
He says, “Obviously the dream is to make the transition into my art full time and that’s what I’m working on and people in Blackpool now especially are really supportive.
“But I’m also hoping to get out into the schools and working with different organisations to mentor young people and work on helping them achieve their potential- that’s a massive motivation for me.”
His devotion to his two boys remains his driving force.
He adds, “It’s been absolutely crazy I never once imagined I’d be here now and I’ve been doubted my whole life, I doubted myself but working hard and being positive I now honestly believe anything is possible with the right mindset.
“I’m constantly improving and looking for new challenges and I’m just so proud of how far I’ve come.”