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Catching up with... Will Axon

This month we catch up with Will Axon, auctioneer and valuer, antiques expert on BBC's flog it! and of course Kingston University alumnus.

Will AxenWhen were you at Kingston?

September 2006 'till September 2008.

What degree did you do?

Arts Market Appraisal (Professional Practice) MA.

Why did you choose Kingston?

Putting aside Kingston's excellent reputation… the course offered was RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) accredited and, as RICS are the main regulative body for auctioneers and valuers, the course counted towards the Assessment of Professional Competence any valuer has to complete if they wish to become a senior RICS member. Also, I thought it was important to study an arts-based course in London, where major galleries, museums and dealers are literally on your doorstep, giving us the opportunity to have off-campus study days and seminars.

Tell us about your experiences of being on Flog it! How does this compare to your everyday job at Rowley's?

Filming Flog it! and working with the BBC is great fun. It gets me out of the office, takes me to places I haven't had the chance to visit before, and is a great way of building up professional contacts with other valuers and auctioneers!  It's a long old day when we're filming though, as we regularly get several hundred people queuing up to show us their treasures – and Flog it! promises to see every single person who makes the effort to come to one of our valuation days and give them a valuation for the pieces they've brought.

Another highlight of being in Flog it! is the variety of people you meet from all walks of life and the stories they have about the pieces they've brought. In fact, sometimes the stories can be more fascinating then the items themselves and we're just as interested in the story or history behind an object as its value!

Compared to my day job as an auctioneer and valuer for Rowley's Antiques and Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers, Flog it! is a little more intense in that you only have a few minutes between filming to research pieces and work out an angle you're going to come at them from, whereas in the office we generally have a little more time to research and catalogue pieces. But there's nothing wrong with having to think on your feet as it certainly fine-tunes your gut instinct and trains you to trust your knowledge, which in turn gives you more confidence in your own abilities and makes you a better valuer all round!

The one part of my day job which Flog it! could never replace is the auctioneering side of things. When you've been involved with a piece from the very beginning, for example discovering something on a valuation, getting it in for sale, researching it, cataloguing it, valuing it and marketing it, selling it is like the final chapter in a book and you feel a certain amount of responsibility for making sure that the piece sells for the right price to the right person. It's also a chance to inject a bit of your own personality into a sale as taking one is a little bit like being on stage with many people saying that auctioneers are usually frustrated actors! But if you can connect with your buyers, make them feel at ease, and even make them laugh with you, you'll find that they are far more willing to bid than if the auctioneer is unenthusiastic or flat. I suppose the same is true of Flog it! – if you connect with the contributors, they're going to be far more likely to open up to you, reveal more of their personality and subsequently make good telly!

Sum up your memories of your time at Kingston in two or three words.

Library. Acronyms. Coffee.

Are you still in touch with anyone?

Working full time and having a young family means that I don't often get a lot of time to catch up with people I studied with, most of whom still live in London, but that's what Facebook is for! Friend me…

Who is your favourite lecturer?

I think all the lecturers and staff were excellent and very helpful but I have to nominate Dr Nick Tromans – he heads up the course, chaired most of the seminars and accompanied us on our study days, so we got to know him quite well…

What's your greatest achievement?

Aside from raising three kids with my partner Philippa, I think gaining my MA must be up there – juggling work, family and studies for two years, being made redundant in the middle of it all, picking myself up and finding a better job than the one I lost…

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

"Put that down and step away slowly!"

What last made you laugh?

Something funny? Sorry, probably something one of my kids has said… or something on YouTube or Facebook.

What's your ideal weekend?

Either a lazy day with the family at Holkham Bay on the North Norfolk coast or an equally lazy day on the Costa Brava… either as long as the sun's shinning and there's a car boot sale on the way!

Tell us something we would never guess about you.

I'm scared of spiders…

You are to live out your final days on a desert island…

Who would you take with you any why? Philippa of course… so we could live out our days together!
What book would you take and why? Teach Yourself Chinese… I'd have the time to study!
What movie would you take and why? Woodstock for the soundtrack as I see I'm not allowed to take any desert island discs!
What food item would you take and why? Steak – there'd be plenty of 'surf' so I'd bring the 'turf'!

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