Sunday, 5 January 2014

11 Ways to not get Dumped on Valentines Day if you have an artistic/cultural girlfriend.

Okay this blog should be about art, but I've been painting some romantic pictures lately so have been thinking about what my ideal sweetheart could do for me this Valentines Day or the days leading up to it.  So if you like these ideas don't forget to pass them on as a big HINT and if you have a better idea please mention it below.

1. Cook a dinner for her. Yes a romantic dinner by candlelight and all that jazz.  But the most important thing is to wash up afterwards.  In fact you could skip the romantic dinner and just offer to do the huge pile of washing up.  She a creative, she doesn't have time to wash the dishes - she has more important things to do with her time.  Washing up will definitely get you brownie points. 

2. Give a bottle of sensual massage oils with this vintage packaging, creative types always appreciate nice packaging.  Don't forget to offer to give her a good massage too. There are plenty of books available on how to do good sensual massages.  Please be careful though, oils don't mix well with prophylactics and we don't want anymore babies as they stop us from getting our work done.

3. Watch something with her that she wants to watch even if you don't (in my case that would be a 'Neighbours' DVD!)  While you cuddle up with her in the dark in front of a warm, glowing fire, under a beautifully hand crocheted huge afghan/shawl all natural fibres, cotton, mohair and pure wool by Ruby Ruby.  This looks so cosy!

4. If you have children already, look after them for her (YES - more than you do already).  Let her relax and take it easy as you take the kids for a stroll on the beach or a walk in the woods.  Bring back some treasures that you know will spark her creative imagination.  Like this starfish - photographed by Liz Garnett.

5. Say it with flowers - not just any ordinary flowers that go off in a vase because she is busy and forgetful and doesn't give them enough water.  How about buying a limited edition floral vintage style dress from Abigail's Wardrobe.   Excellent for showing off the best parts of a woman.  I believe these dresses can be made to order to fit your lady perfectly.

6. Say it with chocolates - Look at this gorgeous tin of chocolate body paint, (or many other food alternatives, Baileys, ice cream, etc).  Offer to paint it on her and lick it off again, but don't be surprised if she wants to be the one doing the licking. But this is Valentines so make sure whatever she chooses - you wash and replace the sheets  - this is a dirty business. If she just wants to get a spoon and eats it straight out of tin, you probably need to start worrying about the relationship.  Alternatively she may think the tin is cute and refuse to open it.

7. Make a candle - but not just any candle.  Try moulding a special candle for your loved one. This website sells silicone moulds and this is a lovely one.  My dad was a beekeeper and used to make beeswax candles in this shape and they were very popular.   You will probably need to purchase a few expensive accessories. It is a bit pricey for one item but she's a creative - give her everything you bought to make it as her pressie, so she can have a go herself and sell them at her next craft fair.

8. Offer to pose nude for sketch or a painting.  This might work. Especially if you have an interesting body to draw. Of course if you are a bit shy you could purchase one of these.

9. Take her to the theatre. Something fun and upbeat. Either a musical or a comedy show.  Not sure about the show that is on here on Valentine's Day but what the heck. I love this theatre!  And Frank Skinner is also on if you want a safer option.

10. Whisk her away to a hotel in a cultural city.  So in 2017 that is going to be Hull! So to get in her good books you might want to take her to Paris or Barcelona before that. Please note that she may want to leave the hotel bedroom to visit the said cultural city - although maybe not in Hull. (Joke - I love Hull really.)

11.  Go visit an art gallery with your true love, she may just fall in love with a painting and you can go back without her to secretly make the purchase.

Or if you are on a budget start searching on Ebay for 'love painting' or 'valentines painting' under 'Art' and 'Self Representing artists' to get some going for a bargain (she'll never know). Like my painting above! It's a bit easier if you select the country you live in to narrow down the list of results.

Hope those tips help some people think a little more creatively about ways to be  romantic on Valentine's day.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The serious Art of bogey picking.

 Okay, before I get into trouble - this was an APRIL FOOLS JOKE!!! Thanks to everyone who thought I really would do this - check out a real bogey artist here!

Well I have been quiet for a while, and that is because I have been concentrating on my new exhibition.  I'm taking it up to London to the Brick Lane Gallery in July, they have been very accepting of my artwork.

So this is it in a nutshell.  The exhibition is going to be called 'The Excretion of the Nose-holes' and is going to feature a collection of my bogey pickings from the past 12 months! 365 days worth to be honest - yes, one a day! The bogies have been collected in special plastic cases  which I kept on my person during the day and changed each night.  They have been arranged logically, from day 1 to day 28, 30 or 31 in each monthly section within the gallery.  It's really fascinating, even if I do say so myself, to see the gradation levels of the bogies in the clear cases.   You can see where I've caught a summer cold and how bad the last winter has been for illnesses.  To be honest I do have hayfever so there's not really a day with a completely empty box!

Actually you would be surprised how beautiful bogies can be. They look like snowflakes under a microscope! There will be a separate section of the show with a  microscope available and some special slides to look at the bogies in more detail.

Dick 'n' Dom from 'Absolute Genius with Dick n Dom' have kindly accepted the offer to come to the Private View night and have said they are really excited to see the bogey exhibition as their new show is all about science they think the exhibition can also be viewed on a scientific level.

They will be joined by John McCririck, who I have been assured will not attempt to damage any of the boxes in an attempt to gain access to any of the delicious bogies as he only eats his own fresh bogies.  Am awaiting some replies from some other stars and will let you know as soon as I know.

I'm really hoping this exhibition takes off in a big way.  I am really keen to be in with a chance of winning the Turner Prize in 2014 and then maybe getting asked to exhibit at the Tate Modern which would just be an absolute dream!  So don't forget to nominate my exhibition for the Turner Prize this time next year!  And please share, tweet and facebook this blog straight away so the right journos hear about it.  Thank you!

And if you would like an invite to the private view please go like my facebook page and find the email subscribe tab and sign up to my mailing list and I will send an invite nearer the time.


more info to follow soon,

love Katy x

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Half Term Creativity

With it being half term this week it is very tricky to get much work done.  But it has been nice not to be rushing around quite so much.  So this week I got the kids to work!

I was going to sell or throw out this bunk bed and as it is slightly broken I knew I wouldn't get much cash for it.

At the same time I thought THIS IS CRAZY!!!
I need wood for another project want to work on so why not just recycle the bed!

The project is to make a giant loom and use all the clothes that are too rubbish to pass on, give away, or give to charity.  Basically clothes that are only worthy of the bin!  So I got a few pairs of holey leggings and a worn out t-shirt and cut them into long strips, now the weft!  I got some acrylic wool that has been hanging around and made the warp with that.  (I've just realised where the phrase time warp comes from.)

 I find it all very therapeutic and the kids love doing it too. Honest!  Rug anyone?

Friday, 15 February 2013

What I have learned about getting prints and cards of my artwork produced.

I almost don't know where to start so here goes.

First of all the quick answer would be to visit these guys! -   Digital Colour Services

These are the people I use and I think they are fantastic. They suit me, as I can just upload work and they print and post it.   And they can do samples.  Other people might prefer to go into a local printers and speak to a human but I like to hide behind my screen.  They also do a range of prices so it is cheaper the more you get printed.

There is also I have an account there but I'm not going to share it here as it needs some updating!   You can upload your work and people can buy it directly, so you have no outlay.  But you will have to direct customers there and it is an expensive way to buy the cards to sell on in person. I believe they also do prints, though I haven't gone down that avenue.

As for prints, I had a lot of questions myself when starting out, and I think I have become more comfortable with the answers recently.  However it is a personal choice and I think you have to make a decision and stick to it.  And the decision is probably different for photographers and other types of artist.

Now there are prints and there are prints!  We are not talking lino or woodblock or any type of print like that, here I am considering the 'giclee'!

In the early days I would sell a painting for a minimal amount and that would be it, my little 'baby' gone forever, with maybe a rubbish photo (Uni tutors advice of "document, document everything!" ringing in my ears).   Unsatisfied with the small amount I was able to get for my original picture I put prices up but they wouldn't sell at these new ridiculous prices. (Prices that more truly reflected the time, effort and experience put into them but too high nonetheless.)

I then moved to working in silk for speed of production, as my paintings had become very simplified the images also suited the style of silk painting that I used.  I sold a piece at an anonymous charity auction for £25.  I was chuffed, someone liked the piece enough to pay £25 when they didn't know the artist.   Okay this didn't seem much, but I was starting to work out how things worked.  Of course fewer people can warrant spending hundreds on a piece of work, many more people can spend £60 and many more still £25!  But to sell a one off for £25 was not enough for me.  One picture is one concept, while I am sure I have many more in my brain, I can't make pieces like I am  a production line.  So I started to make my silk pieces as editions.  Although marked as editions they weren't prints in the traditional sense. Each one was hand painted, but I was using the same image so it seemed unfair to suggest each one was individual.   I started with editions of 10, but I still wasn't getting what I needed financially so I raised the edition number to 50.  The customer pays the same, I get more for each edition.  This was okay although there was a bit of confusion over me charging more for the editions of 10 than the edition of 50 as they looked essentially the same.

Quite a few of my editions of 50 have not actually been completed yet as I started to realise I didn't really want to make 50 of each piece.  And with a bit more understanding of printing now I have made the decision to go back to one off silk pieces (also they were getting larger and more detailed.)  But this time, have them photographed professionally and printed as posters and limited edition giclee prints (A particular type of inkjet printing with archival quality inks).  I can then have cards made up too at a later date should I wish to.

Most printers like large files of around 5MB and 300dpi.  Although you could get away with smaller files if only having cards printed.
I asked a local photographer to take pictures of my work - Thank you to David Jones of Artwork Unlimited, in Ashford, Kent for photographing some of my recent work.  If you are confident with a camera and have one good enough to give you images to work with that are 300dpi and around 5MB then you can take these yourself.  It struck me the other day that it is probably possible to take photos on an old analogue SLR camera and have the film scanned onto cd, or scan the negatives with a special machine onto an sd card and use those images to send to the printers.

Many people have advised me to be careful about printing my work on various items as it might devalue the print.  I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't and is actually better to get your image seen as much as possible by as many people as possible.  I think what you do have to be careful of is what you are calling a collectable piece of art.

The original should be the most valuable and expensive piece, followed by the giclee prints.  You can decide to have unlimited or numbered prints by just signing and numbering, starting from number one.  But I decided that to give them a stronger collectable value they should be signed limited editions.  I have settled on edition sizes of 250 A3 and 250 A4. Reasonably large edition sizes but this gives me the option to reduce the edition sizes and raise the prices in the future.  Buyers need to be made aware of exactly how limited their print is when they buy it.  And the printers I use allow me to print one at a time if I wish so they can go straight out to the customer and not be hanging around my studio getting damaged or dusty.

I did not like the idea that when these limited editions are sold out that the image is no longer available for people to purchase.  So that is why I wanted to also have posters and cards printed too.  These are for people who have fallen in love with the image and want a cheap way of putting it on their wall or sending to a friend, but it is not of archival quality and I also leave them unsigned. I do not want people to think these are works of art. They are not, they are quite clearly posters, mini prints or printed cards.   I am also experimenting with using the images on other items.  These are  also not works of art.  This is just the same as what you might find at the Tate Modern or portrait Gallery if you go into their gift shop, paintings printed onto a range of gifts.

I hope this explains about my philosophy behind my giclee prints and cards.  Please do write any comments and questions, especially if I have missed anything out.

Please view my work in my etsy shop.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

How to create and run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

As I have said in a previous blog, the success of my crowd funding campaign made me suddenly feel that all my ideas for projects were now possible - the world is my oyster!  It was a fantastic confidence boost and I would recommend it to all artists.

For clarity, this successful campaign followed two very unsuccessful ones, but what it did mean is that I learnt from my errors and hopefully my advice will mean you don't have to repeat the same mistakes.

Follow all these steps to help towards creating your own successful campaign:

Choose a target amount.
With my first failed attempt I set a high target of about £2000, this was mainly for materials to make some artwork.  On my second and third attempt I started out with a small project which had a target of only £300.  Why did I choose a low amount? Well, I realised it is a good idea (but not essential) to building trust with your sponsors.  Even if some of those sponsors are friends and relatives, it doesn't mean they would actually trust you to deliver the goods!  It's a bit like lending someone money until they receive the promise they paid for.  Although it would be fraudulent and very bad form not to fulfil the promises you've offered, keeping to them means they will trust you the next time you have a project and perhaps risk a little more money than before.

Find a good crowd funding site.
Take a good look around at all the crowd funding sites available and have a good look at the positives each one provides.  I didn't do this with my first attempt. I went to the first site that I heard about and didn't research any others. I won't mention it here, and it may well have improved, but it had lots of bad technical issues and would only accept Paypal.
I would however highly recommend the site  It was slick and professional and didn't solely rely on Paypal payments, which I discovered, was important!
I was under the illusion that everyone had Paypal because of Ebay.  But actually a lot of people, especially the ones with larger disposable income actually don't use ebay or are very guarded when it comes to giving bank information to other companies, even if it is a company with as big a name and as secure as Paypal! was also fantastic because you could keep whatever amount you raised without actually reaching the target.  So as long as you can fulfil the promises you can keep all the money you have tirelessly fundraised where as other sites don't always let you do that.

Choose a project.
As an artist, there are various types of projects you can opt for.
Do you want to raise some capital for an expensive piece of machinery, electronics or tools?  Or some capital for some printed goods, stock or art materials?  Or maybe you want to raise money to hold an exhibition?
I wanted to raise money to buy cards, printed with some of my artwork, and I wanted to get the best deal I could to enable me to resell the cards at an affordable price so I needed to purchase a larger number than I might need straight away.
Crowd funding had the added bonus of pre-selling a large number of the cards which was fantastic!
My next crowd funding project will be in two parts, the first for publishing a book and the second for an exhibition. But they are both connected in theme so I hope to run them within a few months of each other.

Promises/ Rewards
You need to have a long hard think about the rewards you can offer. I spent a long time looking at successful projects on the Sponsume website and what sort of thing was offered. I sold rewards between £2 and £50, but I also had higher priced rewards which didn't sell.  I think it is important to have a good range of prices and rewards on offer.  And always a good idea to have a low option so that almost everyone is able to participate.   My project was a card printing project and in the end, all I had sold was cards, but I did have many other options such as painting parties and fridge magnets.

Do the Maths!
I believe this is the case for any funding that you are trying to get.  Crowd funding is no different.  It is so important to work out the figures.  It is not as simple as thinking I need x amount to do 'this thing'.  I had to work out what profit I was actually receiving from each reward after working out the cost of posting them out, fees to the website provider and paypal fees for when the money is transferred to you and also the fees when the money is transferred to your bank, if you are not spending directly from Paypal.
Your target will end up to be much higher that you first imagined,  and you must account for all of this before going live or you will get into difficulty.

Getting people involved.
My project only involved one other person and their business at the production stage and he was not a friend so I couldn't ask him to share my campaign.  Well I might have tried but he didn't have many followers.  I only just hit my target and I believe everyone will have the potential to raise £200 minimum but this does depend on the number of friends and their level of income.
I believe the more people you get involved in the project either as a group project or as employees or contractors in getting your project realised, the more  people you will reach and the more money will be raised.
This is just a theory at this stage and will be tested out in my next couple of crowd funding project where I hope to commission some friends/colleagues to help in specific areas.
I have also read that you do have to be careful of the overlap of friends, so it is maybe bast not to choose too many people in the same circle of friends or they'll all be asking the same people for funding.

Video - be seen!
I did two crowd funding projects and therefore videos before I succeeded with this one.  There were a few reasons for this, project 1 failed because:

1-  It had too large a target and I was never going to reach the high total as a first project.

2- I was offering work I hadn't created yet and customers were not really sure what they were going to receive.

3-  I made a video which I thought was funny and entertaining, which involved me singing and a ukelele but must have failed to get my point across!

4- The website I used for this project only accepted Paypal payments.

So I made up a completely different project which failed because I had not addressed the problem with Paypal payments but also the video was terrible.

However, what I did get with this second project was some positive comments from some close friends who really wanted to help me and I did get some funding but I didn't have enough charitable close friends to reach my target.  I finally listened to the feedback about people not wanting to use Paypal and went in search of a better crowd funding site which is when I found

I made a new video after reading tips and advice about funders wanting to see who their money was going to. (My previous video was a badly done animation).
I went live with the project but wasn't getting many sponsors, so asked my friends to check out the video and give me some critical advice.  This was great because it served two purposes.  It meant people were more likely to watch the video and find out about the project and I was also lucky enough to receive some great advice on how to improve the whole campaign, from a friend.

What is in it for others?
One friend said the video was more about what I wanted and needed than explaining the really good things that the sponsors would benefit from.  They wanted to hear what was in it for them and not so much what I was getting from it.  I believe my friend's advice was invaluable, I completely rewrote the wording and re did the video.
I would suggest thinking about whether you would do this project anyway, without extra funding?  That this funding would just make your project bigger and better.  The positives that funders will get out of backing you at this stage.  Telling your story of why you are doing this? (Not the raising money bit - that goes without saying). Create that buzz! And leave out the neediness!

Social Media and Mailing Lists - Getting the word out!
I spent a long time on twitter and facebook and also sending out information to my mailing list.
This was almost the entire way I spread the word.  However towards the end I started talking to people about the project and this helped enormously. 
Facebook is now so hit and miss so in the end I invited people via an events page with all the information on there so I could make sure I reached more people than just in a status update.
I also got sponsors through twitter, however most were friends but I did have two strangers from twitter sponsor me for low amounts.  Still all those small amounts add up and I wouldn't have hit my target without them!

(One of those strangers was Jo Whitby from the band Laurence Made Me Cry  and she was also running her own campaign to create a music album, I backed her and have just received my CD through the post!  Very exciting - one day she could be famous! I expect she is thinking the same thing about me. ;-) )

I hope some of these points have been of use and if you have any questions  that I haven't answered please leave a comment.

Now be free to go and create your own crowd funding campaign and IT WILL BE A SUCCESS!!

What kind of artist are you and where do you want to be?

Thanks to Experts Academy's Brendon Buchard I have decided to be a lot more positive about my successes and most importantly share any tips for success so that newer artists can avoid making some of the same mistakes I have!

I am a particular type of artist. I think I am a bit of a difficult type. But there must be others like me about.  I have always loathed the money and business side of art, because if it is business, it feels a hell of a lot less like true 'art'.  And I am not a graphic designer so that rules out an easy income straight away.

I have also got the added awkwardness and frustration with my personal circumstances making it difficult to network and exhibit as much as I would really like to do in London. This will be something I will tackle in the next year and beyond.

However, the goal is to be able to survive and bring up my family solely from my income as an artist.  Just because art is my vocation I don't see why I should be penniless until after death.  I have always intended to achieve a decent salary like other professionals.  I think it should be a subject for another blog, but for so many artists like me, art is not where their main income comes from.  They've all been lying to us!  Although I have been working for years I feel like I am at the start of a new journey to reach a decent salary figure and stay true to my 'difficult' integrity as an artist.  Do come with me on my journey.

There are so many different types of artist. And I hold no resentment towards you if you are different to me.  Your path is perfectly valid but I want to take a different route.  I do not want to spend my life painting pretty pictures or local scenes that I can sell at a local gallery even if that leads to building up a good reputation.

I also have many artisan friends who make beautiful handmade pieces but not all can command the price for the huge amount of time that is involved in the making process and although these are amazing and valid again it is not a route I wish to take.

For the last few years I have had higher expenses than I have had income and that has to change.  I know I will have to continue to work hard but I want it to become easier eventually. I also don't want to pressure to create a piece of work just so I can pay the bills that month. I want a sustainable income and I want to make that from what I love doing, which is making art.  I want a lot don't I?

I want to think really big, I want to take a route that leads me to be nominated for the Turner Prize in a few years time!  Yes that feels a bit weird saying it but it is true, that is what I want! Why is it difficult to say what I want?  Probably because somewhere along the line someone else has made me feel not worthy. Well I'm not going to listen to those people anymore!

So what do I want to do: I want to paint pictures. I may want to do things in other mediums. I may want to be commissioned for larger cultural works. But I will want it to be Art that is true to me and not something that has had to tick boxes to get the right funding.

One of the successful things that I have achieved so far in my art career is a crowd funding project that I created and I hit my target.  This gave me a huge amount of confidence that I really can achieve whatever I want if I can appeal to my fans and the wider community.  I haven't yet attempted more conventional funding routes but I think crowd funding meant I could really concentrate on what I wanted and didn't have to compromise too much.

I am planning my next crowd funding campaign now, which will be in two parts.  But please check out my next blog which will be about the success of my first crowd funding campaign.

So if you are an artist that gets my point of view, or is struggling in similar circumstances, and you are looking for a more unconventional route to success please do follow me on Facebook or join my mailing list on my website,

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Rothko painting defaced by vandal

I just happened to visit the Tate Modern today.  I came in near the Turbine gallery entrance and heard and then saw the flashmob style performance art going on in there. I watched that for quite a while. They seemed like swarming bees to me.

I then decided to go and visit the paintings.  I'd been looking around for about 20 minutes when the alarm went off and I thought it was very odd for a place like the Tate to have a fire drill.  We swarmed toward the escalators but as we arrived at the top, an attendant switched them off and ushered us back towards a small fire exit door.   But there were so many people and I was feeling a bit panicky at the thought of being cramped in a small space with so many people so I sat down on a bench.  Us all being a cultured lot, there didn't seem to be any pushing and shoving.  Before I could get through this fire exit door I was ushered back toward the escalator by the same attendant. So we walked down the escalator and up through the turbine gallery and out into the fresh air. 

After a little while the performance artists continued their crazy little performance, humming and buzzing around and drifted off around the corner to the riverside entrance of the Tate, which probably gave the visitors something interesting to look at whilst waiting for the gallery to reopen.

I didn't stay long as I wasn't sure how long it was going to be closed for.

I have just googled it, and discovered some idiot vandalised a Rothko.  Something about yellowism.

Tim Wright's photo of the vandalism.

The words say Vladimir Umanets (Anagram: I'm true vandalism) A potential piece of Yellowism.

I'm afraid to say that this is probably the work of some London based art students who have thought, as we all have from time to time, of wanting to create a new -ism and thought this was the way to go about it.

Well I have read through as much of their website as I care to and it just seems a load of b@llocks to me. I don't think it is right to destroy someone else's creation like this.

I don't think they have much substance to their claims for another -ism, whether this is a massive mocking of the art world or not.

And well done to the staff at the Tate Modern who got us all out calmly and efficiently!