posted on August 8th, 2023

County Down man launches a picture-perfect caricature business thanks to help from the Go For It Programme

A County Down man based in Bangor, has launched his very own picture-perfect caricature business, John McClaughry Artist, thanks to the help of the Go For It programme in association with Ards and North Down Borough Council.


This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme and the 11 Councils.


Having studied fine art painting at university, John has always had a passion for art, but he struggled to find the confidence to take this passion and turn it into a reality.


John explains: “I had been working in a factory for a number of years, but in the back of my mind I constantly had a niggle of wanting to have my own business, but I didn’t know where to start.


“I knew there was a gap in the market for a caricature artist in Northern Ireland, but it wasn’t until my 11-month-old daughter Nellie came along that I decided to take the leap, get in touch with the Go For It programme and kick-start my very own business.”


Since launching in 2022, John’s business has been going from strength to strength with over 800 Etsy orders worldwide along with 260 five-star reviews.


John continues: “I was so nervous when I launched my business because I didn’t know how it would go. But I knew this was something I had to try and if it didn’t go to plan, at least I had given it a shot and I could always get another job.”


John explains how it’s being his own boss that he loves the most about running John McClaughry Artist.


“Being my own boss gives me flexibility to work family life around work. I want to spend as much time as possible with my daughter while working in a job I’m truly passionate about and want to succeed in.”


John launched John McClaughry Artist after taking part in the Go For It programme through Ards and North Down Borough Council.

The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and support to develop a business plan that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into commercial businesses.


John explains: “The Go For It programme was such a great source of confidence for me, and it gave me the motivation to just jump in and go for it! I didn’t know where to start and what was actually required to launch a business, and the programme gave me lots of support and guidance to begin my entrepreneurial journey.


“I was provided with a business advisor who helped me create a business plan and this really helped me refine my business idea and pinpoint exactly what I wanted to achieve. It acts as a step-by-step guide and helps me stay on track to achieving my goals and targets.”


Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour said: “I’m delighted to see yet another successful entrepreneur turn his passion into a reality and benefit from the support that is offered through the Go For It programme.


“John is a great example of how the Go For It programme can instil confidence in entrepreneurs and give them that extra push to take the leap and launch their business. I would encourage anyone with a business idea to get in touch with the programme today and check out the support available.”


Maeve Killingbeck, business advisor at North Down Development Organisation Ltd said: “John was an absolute pleasure to work with and had a fantastic business idea that was definitely a gap in the market. Together we created a comprehensive business plan which took account of John’s vision and helped to provide a roadmap to make this vision a thriving reality.


“Through the business plan we worked on setting business goals, mapping out financial plans as well as legal requirements to name just a few exercises. I’m delighted to see John doing so well, and the fact he is now selling worldwide is something he should take much pride in. I wish John all the very best for the future and I’m excited to see what’s next for John McClaughry Artist.”


If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business, contact the Go For It programme on 0800 027 0639 or visit:

Subscribe to our Newsletter

To stay up to date on news and events.

Link to Ulster Tatler Awards 2024 About page