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Helen Cowley

BA (Hons) Fine Art, 2000

Helen Cowley AOTY

Fine Art

Birmingham City University

Helen Cowley is the Founder and Director of Dutch Uncle, an award-winning international art agency with offices in London, Tokyo and New York. Dutch Uncle represents and sources talent for organisations looking to commission artists to produce animation, illustration and design.

Since graduating in 2000 with a first class honours degree in Fine Art, Helen has worked with some of the industry’s leading talents including Jo Malone, Adidas, Levi’s, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Facebook, and Honda and continues to inspire passion in the artists she represents.

“I had a great time at BCU. We had excellent, inspiring tutors, who I learned a lot from, and were always supportive, even with shows I put on outside of university. The external assessors were big names in the art world too.

“After graduating, I secured a position at an art agency and over the next few years, worked for a three different companies in similar roles, but realised I wanted to do more than work for someone else.

“Eventually, I wanted to do more than work for someone else. I got a group of artists together, and we felt that we could take a fresh approach to how art was commissioned.

“We invested in a large studio in London so we could host events for industry professionals and make ourselves known to potential clients. These proved popular – people usually stuck behind desks could get out and meet each other!

“We have 20-25 artists on our books, and it’s been great to see their careers develop. We’ve got some great clients – including HP, Apple, IBM; we’re even designing the cover for Margaret Attwood’s latest book. Our artwork features on packaging, advertising, software, and animation.

“It felt really amazing to find out I was an Alumni of the Year. It’s great looking back at what I’ve achieved in my career and exciting to think about the future.

“I’d like to represent artists for a wider range of work – perhaps exhibitions, which would bring me closer to what I studied at university. Whenever I have a project, I like to push it as far as I can and that’s something I learned during my studies.”