I’m a builder but make £25K a WEEK from unusual side&hustle in my yard… I’ve so many celebs fans I struggle to keep up

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A RETIRED builder has traded his hammer for a paint brush – and become an unlikely art superstar.

Steve Camps, 67, only started painting last February and has never had any training, but has been dubbed ‘The Prince of Whales’ for his distinctive ocean-themed artworks.

Neil HopeSteve Camps, 67, only started painting last February and has never had any training[/caption]

Neil HopeSteve worked as a builder for 50 years[/caption]

He is now selling over £25,000 per week and boasts celebrity fans including Dawn French and newsreader Clive Myrie.

Speaking from his makeshift studio in what was once his builder’s yard, squeezed between rows of bungalows in the seaside town of Newquay, Steve admits he was initially too embarrassed to sign his work.

But he’s now struggling to keep up with demand from as far afield as Australia and the USA.

He told The Sun: “At first I didn’t want to put my name on my paintings because then if people look at it and say what a load of rubbish it has your name on – I don’t want that.

“I thought everybody would laugh at me. Well, they’re not laughing now.

“It’s crazy when the auctioneers told me who had bought my paintings, it has just taken off big time. 

“I don’t feel like an artist, what I do is I paint whales.

“I never had any training and I’m not trying to make some bold statement. I just get on with it really. 

Neil HopeSteve’s builders yard is now rammed with art supplies[/caption]

“I still work in my builders yard, but now it’s jam-packed with paintings and frames.

“I didn’t set out with this great mindset that I am going to sell hundreds or thousands of paintings, it just happened.”

Rather than fancy art shops, Steve shops for materials at trade suppliers Howdens and Jewsons and makes most of the frames himself. 

He admits the thing he most loves about being an artist is not having to climb on a roof in the rain.

He said: “It’s nice just not having to go up on a roof really.

“As a builder you’re always under pressure from the customers, if something goes wrong you have to go and sort it out. 

It’s nice just not having to go up on a roof really

Steve Camps

“I used to wake up on a rainy day and worry, ‘What I am going to do with the guys I employ?’

“But now I just come here, sit in my studio and think, ‘What am I going to do?’

“I liked building and I enjoyed it, but some jobs are good and others weren’t.

“I know all the lads in Jewsons and Howdens where I used to get my materials. I buy any damaged sheets of plywood from them to paint on.”

50 years on the tools

Steve’s 50-year career started when he left school and worked for his father as an apprentice painter and decorator.

He learned carpentry and masonry on the job before becoming a builder.

He has always been an art lover, but despite his own work now being more valuable than anything in his collection, he still doesn’t have any of his own paintings at home.

Neil HopeDawn French and Clive Myrie are fans of his work[/caption]

Neil HopeSteve’s unexpected creative success has drawn comparisons with Fisherman’s Friends[/caption]

His inspiration for painting the ocean mammals came after he bought two paintings of whaling ships while on holiday. 

He said: “I’ve always loved collecting paintings, but now my pictures are worth more than all the ones I’ve collected in my life.

“If I couldn’t paint a whale any more I wouldn’t know what to do. I could paint a sheep but I would probably only get a couple of farmers interested.

If I couldn’t paint a whale any more I wouldn’t know what to do. I could paint a sheep but I would probably only get a couple of farmers interested

Steve Camps

“I have done pigs too, which went well, and I’ve had commissions for cats and rabbits, but then I always go back to the whales.

“I can do it with my eyes shut now.”

Steve has linked up with Falmouth-based gallery owner Tabby Booth to sell his prints, but after the first set was snapped up on the first day he has been working flat-out to keep up with demand ever since.

His unexpected creative success has drawn comparisons with Fisherman’s Friends – the singing fishermen from nearby Port Isaac who were signed by Universal Music after they were spotted singing sea shanties to tourists.

They went on to reach number nine in the UK album charts.

Addressing the comparison, Steve joked: “I like Fisherman’s Friends but they can’t paint and I can’t sing so we should stick to our own journeys. 

“It helps to live in Cornwall because if I lived in the middle of Newcastle I don’t think any of this would kick off. Perhaps it’s romanticised.

“I don’t take this too seriously, I think it’s funny. If it all ended tomorrow I’d just carry on.”

Neil HopeSteve has linked up with Falmouth-based gallery owner Tabby Booth to sell his prints[/caption]

Neil HopeHis whale paintings sell for thousands[/caption]

Neil HopeSteve can’t believe how popular his art work is[/caption]

Are you taxed on side hustle earnings?

PLENTY of households are taking on side hustles such as babysitting or setting up an eBay store to boost their earnings.

And luckily, you can use a “trading allowance” which means you don’t have to pay tax on any yearly gross income of £1,000 or less.

However, if you do earn over the £1,000 threshold, you will have to declare it to HMRC.

You can claim a trading allowance via Self-Assessment on the government’s website.

First, you need to inform them you’re a sole trader and tell them how much you earn in income, when you started and who you are.

HMRC will then send you a UTR number, which you can use to submit a Self-Assessment tax return.

The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 of the following year, and the deadline to pay is the following January 31.

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