Monday, 2 September 2013

Green Issues Continued...

My previous blog post gathered more attention than I ever imagined it would and the response I've had has been overwhelmingly supportive, even being covered by a-n art news. I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to read, comment or share this story - you are all marvellous!

On August 29th, I received a response to my blog from Greens policy advisor, Jay Tilley. In my initial post, I shared with you the whole email conversation with Jay as I didn't want editing to lead to any unfair bias. With this in mind, I thought it was only fair to publish the latest exchange in full and let you come to your own conclusions. To see the original conversation, click here.

Here is Jay's response:



Hi Lucy

I saw your blog post about our exchange and wanted to get in touch.

I absolutely agree that you should be able to expect to charge a licensing fee for the reproduction of your work. My intention was not about wanting to use your work for free. As I put in my email, due to the quick turnaround time of the document, I hadn't left enough time to organise a licence agreement and payment before the launch - so needed a quicker option by using someone connected to us. I totally take responsibility to not leaving enough time for me to do this.

It was also a poor choice of words to describe the process as a 'bureaucratic nightmare' considering the everyday reality of the arts sector and the myriad of grant, project and other applications you deal with to seek payment for your work. That's what our young and emerging artists initiative is all about.

But it's a bit unfair to use my own poor forward planning (and lack of time during the height of an election campaign) to reflect on the whole of the Australian Greens. The Greens have focused on the arts far more than either of the major parties here in Australia this election campaign, not least the initiative I contacted you about. 


All the best with your career,

Jay Tilley

Policy Adviser | Office of Senator Christine Milne
Leader of the Australian Greens

I do not doubt that the Greens have good intentions towards young and emerging artists and I certainly don't wish to put a spanner in the works of any arts funding. My aim is to focus on my personal treatment and the way it reflects current attitudes. From my perspective, the mention of funding and timing issues was an afterthought; only mentioned after I pressed for an answer. To me, this speaks volumes... But maybe that's just me.

Here is my reply:



Hi Jay

I apologise if you feel I've been unfair; I did stress that I could only speculate as to whether I would have eventually received payment had there been more time, just like I speculated as to whether I'd have ever got a response if I hadn't pursued it after nine days of waiting. It was not my intention to show up the Australian Greens, but to highlight the casual assumption that artists should be okay with giving away work for free. It just so happens that it was in connection with an arts funding campaign that, for me, made it all the more potent.


What I'm trying to point out is that it's not okay to casually ask an artist to 'send an image over', no matter how polite.

Creative professionals don't receive the respect they deserve and most don't even command it, because they're so used to being undervalued, they just roll over to anyone who shows the slightest interest in their work. This in turn devalues the arts as a whole.


I'm not trying to point out any one person or group who is the root cause of this, but if I can be part of the solution, even if I only reach one person and make them see the true value of art and the artist, then I'll continue to do my best to highlight the problem.

Good luck with the rest of your campaign,

Lucy


I'm sure this wont be the last time I struggle with this sort of problem as an artist. Creative professionals everywhere experience this repeatedly, especially in the early stages of their career, but it's how you deal with it that is important and that will make a difference.

Working for free is NOT something you should be expected to do as an artist.
Don't be blinded by the potential exposure generated by unpaid 'opportunities'. Read between the lines of what is on offer - is it really going to get your talent noticed or are you just handing out free a free favour to a perfect stranger who's probably tried it on with ten other artists before you.

If you keep your head, respect yourself and respect your work, prospective clients will in turn realise your worth. And if they still don't, then more fool them.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Green Issues!

I haven't posted here in a while. It's become easier to give you short and sweet updates through Facebook and Twitter and I rarely find the time to sit down and write a full blog post... However, today I have been given good reason to write something that won’t quite fit into Twitter's 144 characters; something that I would prefer not to be glanced over on a Facebook feed. 

On August the 13th I received an email from the Australian Greens Party, asking for permission to use one of my paintings for an election campaign. Here's the email:
 

Hello Lucy

I work for the leader of the Greens party in Australia and we have an election in one month’s time. I am currently preparing materials for some of our election policies and one of them is what the Greens will do for “young and emerging artists”. The policy proposals are focussed around artists receiving a living wage for their work, so I thought your painting ‘will work for food’ would be a perfect image for it.

I am seeking your permission to use this image, which of course we will credit you with. If you are fine with this, would you mind sending me through an image?

To get an impression of what the document will look like when complete, here is a previous arts document:

And to get the general vibe of the Greens, here is the website: http://greens.org.au/

Keep up the great work.

Jay Tilley
Policy Adviser | Office of Senator Christine Milne
Leader of the Australian Greens


The piece he's actually referring to is this one:


'Will Paint For Food' 2011
Oil on canvas, 50 x 70 cm

My first reaction was one of excitement - of course I'm always delighted when somebody shows a keen interest in my work! I read the email out to Judd. His initial reaction was much the same, adding: 'That'll be pretty good exposure!' But then I started to chew it over...

As some of you might remember, the same painting was used in the Huffington Post last year in an article on a similar topic. At that time, I allowed it to be used in exchange for the exposure. I wasn't paid a penny. I received some criticism over this on Twitter, which in hindsight was completely fair - I played the part of the stereotypical skint and desperate artist and allowed my work to be used for free. I willingly contributed to the problem.

I promised myself that I wouldn't allow this to happen again, no matter how tempting the offer. So here I was, being asked by the Greens to use an image that belonged to me and that I'd put many hours of work into. And they wanted me to simply hand it over... in exchange for what? Were they really asking me to give away work for free to use on an arts funding campaign?! Surely not... Here's my reply:

Hi Jay,

Many thanks for your email. As I'm sure you can imagine, funding for the arts is something that is of great importance to me. I'd be more than happy for my painting to be featured in your campaign, but would require a licensing fee for the use of the image.

If you could let me know specifically how you intend to use the image, and for how long, I can draw up a licensing agreement.

Kind Regards,

Lucy


Pretty reasonable I thought! Especially as I was desperate to get on my soapbox and give him an earful! I thought it was probably best at this point to give the Greens an opportunity to redeem themselves for this hypocritical blunder.

I waited nine days for a reply and heard nothing. It was a more than reasonable amount of time to wait so I thought a gentle nudge was in order. I sent this follow-up email:

Hi Jay,

Just wanted to check you received my last email. If you don't wish to pay for the licence fee I need you to confirm that you wont be using my artwork for your campaign.

Many thanks,

Lucy


Twenty minutes later, I was stunned to receive this reply:

Hi Lucy – sorry for the delay, thanks for the reminder. We are in full election swing at the moment and getting funding approved from the party is a bureaucratic nightmare. I have just opted to use a piece by my mate for the policy document. Doesn’t have any of the potency of your picture, but far easier for my time-poor self to organise. Keep up the good artwork, bummer we could not have planned it better.

All the best

Jay Tilley
Policy Adviser | Office of Senator Christine Milne
Leader of the Australian Greens


I'm not sure he could have made a poorer choice of words!

Struggling artists of Australia, you heard it here first! Getting any funding out of the Greens is a 'bureaucratic nightmare'!!

Maybe, if he had planned it better, I might have been paid for the use of my art. I'll never know. Just like I'll never know if I'd have actually ever received a response had I not poked him for an answer. I can only speculate! All I know is that a political party running an arts funding proposal asked me for free artwork. Whether it was out of ignorance or just bare-faced nerve, it's disgusting.

As for Jay’s ‘mate’, whose artwork will be used on the campaign, I sincerely hope he's getting treated to dinner tonight on the Australian Greens as he sure won’t be able to afford it himself - man cannot live on exposure alone!!!

Thanks for reading. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to ask a plumber to fix my washing machine in exchange for some of that priceless exposure!


Updated 02/09/2013:

To view the follow up post, click here and to view a-n art news' coverage of this blog, click here.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Two's Company!

Ello my loves! Things are about to change a little bit around here! I've been dying to write this post for a long time now but things kept getting in the way and slowing down my plans... But anyway, that doesn't really matter now, because things are finally starting to come together!

If you're a follower of my blog, you'll probably know that I've been struggling for a long time to harmonise my work as an artist and as a designer.
Sometimes it gets confusing as to whether I'm supposed to be Little Lost Soul or Lucy and it drives me mad... come to think of it, it's probably driven you mad too and made for intensely tedious reading material, so for that I do apologise and in future I will make a conscious effort to keep my split personalities in check!

Because of all this confusion and general silliness, rather than trying to assign myself a job description that encapsulates everything I do - Artist/Designer/Maker/Printer/Marketer/Accountant/Saleswoman/Butcher/Baker... you get the idea - I've decided to just be okay that some days I'm an artist and others I'm a designer. To simplify things not only for my addled brain, but also for my customer base, I've decided to run each business from separate websites.

This leads me to all the mystery and excitement I've been building up to over on Facebook and Twitter, because tomorrow I will be launching a new website! Da daaahhh!!

You will now be able to find my existing website over at www.lucy-pass.com, which is where you'll find all of my art work. My clothing and accessories will now be found on my sparkly new website at www.littlelostsoul.com!

To celebrate, I'll be having a little online launch party, so to speak, with new products and discount vouchers to be used over the weekend! I'll be announcing everything on Facebook and Twitter tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled!


Don't worry, you can still find me and both of my personalities here, on Facebook and on Twitter - It's just the websites that are parting ways!

So that's my news! Hoping to have more exciting developments to tell you about very soon! For now, I'll leave you with the third painting in my Rare Birds series and a video of the process! So fresh, the paint is still wet!



Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Geometric Dreams!

Got a bit of a photo fest for you today! Not really got too much to say other than, I've gone and done a painting! Two in fact! What's that? Sticking to new year's resolutions? Why yes I am!! I'm working on a new series called Rare Birds and here's the first two for your enjoyment!


Rare Bird I
Detail
Rare Bird II

Detail

I bet you're thinking that geometric jazz would make a splendid print. Crazy! That's just what I was thinking...



I had a total 'eureka' moment when this worked! I may have even done a little dance... but you lot don't need to know that! So far I've used this awesome fabric to make these scarves - I think the gold on grey is my favourite. I'm a sucker for anything shiny.



This week I'll be working on more styles in this fabric so I'll keep you posted! They will all be available to buy from my Etsy shop in a few weeks, but if you want to get in there early, I'll be at the Reetsweet designer maker fair at the Leeds Corn Exchange on the 2nd of February. Read more about the fantastic Reetsweet and their campaign against crap craft here!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Hello 2013!

Happy New Year everyone!

I would have posted sooner but since that there Christmas fair I was telling you all about I've been poorly sick! Boo hoo! I mustered up just enough energy to post Christmas orders and then set about hibernating! Poor old Judd was poorly too, so the whole house was a quarantine zone which really didn't lend itself well to the festive season! New Year's Eve wasn't much better - wrapped up in blankets watching telly with the cold realisation that Jools Holland's Hootenanny really is much more enjoyable when you're trollied! Bleh!

So anyway, all this sitting about sneezing gave me lots of time to think about my plans for 2013 and do a little "year in review" in my head! This time last year, I wrote about what changes I wanted to make, so I've decided to revisit my past blogger self and see how successful (or unsuccessful) I've been!

"1. Try not to eat so much lard! I don't need to take up running or start a ridiculous dance craze, I just need to stop putting junk in my face all the time... just some of the time :)"

Killed this one! Fit into my first pair of size 10 jeans since my teens - Boom! Now I only eat lard for treats! Om nom nom!

"2. Get a sodding hair cut! It's been 2 years, it's got to be done! ...Although I'll probably end up doing it myself again. Does that count?"

Fail. It's now been a whopping 3 years since I had a hair cut, but I have just done a full peroxide job on my head and am on my way to lilac hair so I reckon that'll do for a style change!

"3. Paint more. Over the last year, so much of my time has been taken up with sewing that I've found myself pining for a paint brush in my hand, but unable to find the time for it because I'm busy embroidering a cute little face on to something! Pretty ridiculous for someone who calls herself a painter! Which leads me on to...

4. Sew less. As much as I love stitching, stuffing and embroidering, I never intended it to take over, so it's taking a firm back seat! Also, I'm not so hot on having cramp in my hands on a regular basis! Claw hands are not a good look."

Well, let's see, yes I definitely failed on 3. and 4. - I may have ditched the hand embroidery but sewing is still very much a big part of my life. I must remember that I am not a factory. I am just one tiny person and working round the clock to stock a shop whilst trying to compete with high street prices is both unrealistic and quite frankly knackering. This year I will attempt to find the right balance between being a painter and being a designer. Painting commences on Monday!

"5. Stop working for free. I'm utterly rubbish at putting a value on my work - a condition many artists suffer with, leaving them totally skint and kidding themselves that the exposure is more valuable. It's not. Everybody needs to eat, and eat I will... but not lard, see no 1."

Okay, so I can safely say that I did not do any work for free... although I have undervalued myself on a few projects and failed to stick up for myself when the piss was being taken - I have too many mistakes to kick myself over, so this time next year I hope to have significantly less!

Artists, makers, designers; know your rights, draw up contracts and get what you are owed! And if a client/employer says they are doing you a favour by using your work, just walk away. We don't need favours. We don't need the exposure. We need to have our work taken seriously and have it valued accordingly, then we can pay our bills and put food in our bellies, just like everybody else.

"6. Move house! The Judd and I love our little Georgian flat very much, but the more my work expands, the less space we have to actually live here, so I plan to religiously check Rightmove.com every day until we find something lovely with that coveted second bedroom!"

Well you all know how this one turned out! Even though I miss our little flat very much, I am writing this post from my beautiful studio, which is totally awesome :)

"7. Don't fill the new house with useless crap! ...Who am I kidding?! Ignore that one."

Ummmmm... yeah. Still ignoring that one!

How did I do? Maybe a B+? Definitely could do better! I'll post again soon with my upcoming work plans, but now I guess I should probably add some more to the list! Maybe just one...

8. Be stupid. 2012 was a very work heavy year, both for me and for Judd and I found myself  constantly worrying about the next task on the list to be done and I lost track of how long I'd been working for. Before I knew it, it had been a year since we'd seen some of our most treasured people! That's not okay. I hereby declare 2013 the year of stupid and it shall be abundant with cheap booze, pointless conversations, Myspace photos, bad dancing, ridiculous hair dos, road trips to nowhere and laughing until a bit of wee comes out.


Enjoy it folks!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Christmas Stocking!

I give up! I've completely run out of making time so I've taken to my sofa with a cup of tea to give you a quick update!

Tomorrow is the Festive Market at The Storey in Lancaster and, as is standard for this time of year, preparations have been utter chaos! Sadly, this is the only Christmas fair I'll be selling at this year, thanks to the new house and it's many issues taking up my time! I was intent on making it to this particular fair though as it's always a smashing event, absolutely crammed with amazing things made by local artisans - team that with a stunning venue and it's the perfect way to get all your Christmas shopping done under one roof!


Most inconveniently, my brain seems to find the busiest times to come up with new ideas and over the last couple of weeks my head has been bursting with the damn things, so concentrating on restocking has been nearly impossible! I did manage to find time to work on a couple of new items, though!

These brooches, created using home-made clay, have made me extremely happy! Only very small, but immensely satisfying to make and even better is their extra-terrestrial appearance! Na-nu Na-nu!


I've been wanting to move back to homewares for a while now and my 'Transmission' print turned out to be perfect for soft furnishings! I'll be keeping a couple of these linen cushions for my newly decorated living room!


These new items will be in my Etsy shop asap, but if you live near by and you just can't wait, you know where to find me! :)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Home Remedies!

Around this time last year, while I was gearing up for the Christmas making rush, I quietly decided that it might be time to bid farewell to our lovely little Georgian apartment in the centre of Lancaster - little being the operative word as my work was rapidly outgrowing it's walls and my small nook in the hallway was becoming unworkable. As the months went by, the situation grew ever more desperate as our bedroom developed a sort of factory/skip vibe and I started to scour Rightmove daily (hourly when I was feeling particularly unhinged).

The old place, looking lovely!
The problem work space, looking not so lovely!
We put in many, many, many hours looking for somewhere in the right spot, with the right number of rooms that wasn't going to completely bleed us dry. You wouldn't think renting would be so hard, but Lancaster has proved us entirely wrong! We quickly realised we had been completely spoiled for the last 3 years. We went from home to home (and I use the word 'home' very loosely) feeling increasingly depressed and in some cases disturbingly itchy and quickly reached the conclusion that we were not going to find something that we could just walk in to - we needed to start looking with our D.I.Y. goggles on! We needed somewhere with potential!

One month ago today, Judd and I picked up the keys to our new house. 

Poor unsuspecting fools!
As is to be expected in the grand farce that is my life, we were completely unprepared for what lay ahead and as we delved deep under the nasties left by the last tenants, problems began to reveal themselves one after another. The phrase 'At least we didn't buy it!' has been used a great deal over the last few weeks, upon discovery of such surprises as the leaky cracked toilet with matching basin, 'Weetabix Wall' (the lovingly named patch of damp in the bathroom hiding behind the many layers of  woodchip), the boiler that can't, the shed of unmentionable horrors and the plethora of unidentifiable stains and cigarette burns on every carpet! I could go on, but never mind... at least we didn't buy it!

The pressure was on to get the new place habitable, not only because we had to get out of the old place, but because the plan was to host my famous fancy dress birthday bonanza (yes, that's right) in two weeks time... Bear in mind that my costume is usually a two month labour of love and at this point I had nothing... Stressed is not the word. All I wanted was a massive party with cake and booze and instead I was working twelve hour days, like a D.I.Y. demon! Hmph!

So, we've been knee deep in scuzz and wood dust, high on woodworm killer and stain stopper, spent hours on hold to estate agents and couriers, racked up hundreds of miles in journeys to B&Q and the tip and we have many scars from flat pack furniture battles... and (with the help of Judd's lovely dad and decorating master) here we are, one month on and it's finally feeling more like home - are you ready for some before and after shots?

Huzzah! The blue wood effect cupboards and grim NHS green tiles are no more!!
The pictures need hanging but the fresh coat of white will do just fine for now!
My new studio! I started work in this room so fast I forgot all about the before shot! We replaced the nasty carpet, by the way!
And what of the party, you ask? I wasn't going to allow my fancy dress reputation to be tarnished that easily! The very last box was unpacked the night before and frantic costume making commenced four hours before party 0' clock... The theme? Voodoo!!!

The Judd's doo Voodoo!

And that, my friends, is how we do that!! I have almost recovered from the Voodoo celebrations (even if my memories are still somewhat disjointed) and normal life will resume shortly! I now have the task of preparing for Christmas fairs - details of those will follow shortly - and for those who aren't so local, I'll be stocking up my Etsy shop very soon!

I had best get making!!