Getting my pay slip on Monday, reminded me that there are many pros to working for someone else. I’d only spent a few days of the month in work, the rest of the time I’d been off travelling…exploring…exhibiting…meeting other artists, and all of that time being paid, taxed and making contributions towards my pension.

If I was self employed, I wouldn’t be able to do that. It really got me thinking about being paid.

It is interesting to see what some artists class as ‘making a living’ though. There are a few blogs in artists talking on just that – making a living … though mainly through commissioned work. Could I do that? What would be the difference between me doing that or doing the job I do? Neither involves doing my own work. Nah…It’s not for me. (Though I admire anyone else who decides to make a living that way)

Last year I spoke to an artist who was happy with the £150 a month she made from running workshops. ‘It pays for my materials’ she said. Oh OK. What am I doing wrong? £150 wouldn’t even pay for my food bill for a month.

Another artist I know sold £4000 of artworks (which I thought was amazing and I would kill to do that!!) But again, said that would get her through the year.

Surely £4000 is barely 3 months pay – or am I getting my sums wrong?

A living wage is £7.65 an hour (outside of London) the average week is 38 hours. So therefore a living weekly wage is £290.70 or £15,116 a year. Pretty low – but ….ARTISTS!! STOP KIDDING YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE MAKING A LIVING IF YOU EARN BELOW £15,000!!!


Seriously though… when some artists say they are making a living, it puts pressure on others and makes them feel like they are not good enough.

I can’t praise enough the campaign for Paying artists, if everyone stands together, maybe one day we can all make a living, do our work and survive.


I’ve started my blog a few times this week, written the first sentence and then abandoned it. There’s been a lot to do and even more to question.

Monday – Bank Holiday, I had to work as I don’t earn enough not to (like everyone else). Still fuzzy from my NY trip a week on, I was thrown in to do a children’s workshop. It was good that it stimulated me enough to keep me from falling asleep, but it was tiring. The families enjoyed it, but it was loud.

Tuesday, I was cashier. I used to enjoy that job as it used to be done in our pace, but now we do the job of two people so it makes it a nonstop day. We should complain, but we don’t – fear of it being taken off us.

Wednesday was my day off and I had arranged to meet the artist Joe Venning, to check out the space we will be using for the Open Studio tour in June. I had expected to be given rooms that were not in use, so that we could set up a couple of days earlier, so I was a bit of surprise to be shown the immaculate conference rooms. It’s a new bar, restaurant and conference centre close to Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square and right by the town hall. The place was lovely, but I had my doubts. I didn’t want to sound ungrateful – especially as the owners had offered to set up a PV on the Friday night before, inviting all of their mailing list, but it was pretty obvious we couldn’t hang anything on the walls.

Now I have to think of an alternative way of showing my work.

Thursday, back in work and we’d heard just the day before that all museums in the Liverpool area were to close for the day http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/about/venue-closure.aspx although it didn’t directly affect us, it made us reflect on the cuts we’d had nearly 3 years ago. Was it really that long ago? No one really feels safe in their jobs anymore.

I really feel for the graduates this year – there is NO chance of getting a job in the arts.

….and realistically, no chance of me going back to part time so that I can do my own work ( and thus creating an opening for someone else to have my spare hours)

The week has just swung from highs (well, not really) to lows (most definitely) and in between I’ve had to use every spare minute of my ‘free’ time to make more paper boots for the Barnaby Festival. This has made me question, yet again, why I do these installations. They are far too time consuming and there is no payment.

..and yet again, like most artists I should think, I am working seven days a week with no free time :-(

Oh how spoiled I was in NY!


I’m still finding it hard to adjust. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still tired, or simply because I don’t want to be back into the old routine.

20 days away from work has just given me too much to think about.

I was faced with a barrage of emails when i got back – plans for the future. Of course, I could have answered emails while I was away, but people waited patiently for my return before asking questions.

I had a Q & A from the Barnaby festival. ‘What advice would I give to budding artists in Macclesfield?’ I answered without even thinking – ‘Don’t try to make a living from your work’, then I regretted sending it. It isn’t for me to say what people should or shouldn’t do. For me, I have tried and it left me struggling for money. Someone else may be more successful.

It really did get me thinking though. I don’t even try to make money now. I go to work and rely solely on that money to live on. Should I try harder?

I hovered over the next email about an Open studio tour. I do my own work from home, as it’s more convenient for me, but I wouldn’t open up my home to strangers.

I had been offered use of a free space in town for the duration of the studio tour. All I needed to do was pay for inclusion in the brochure and map. £45. I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. I don’t do ‘studio work’ as such and I knew of several artists who’d signed up last year who only got a handful of visitors. As artists, we just seem to be paying out all of the time and not getting any return.

I suppose though, my trip to the US was a lot about breaking new ground, taking risks and being out of my comfort zone.

I signed up. Maybe I can sell £45 of art work? It actually made me think about earning money, so much so that I’ve set out a plan or at least an aim to try to make X amount of money by Christmas and if I succeed I will drop a few paid work days. (I wouldn’t go the whole hog and say that I will give up work as that would be plain stupid wouldn’t it?)

I suspect I will fail as the opportunity for selling work isn’t really there. Not the sort of work I do anyway. At least I would have had a go though and if it doesn’t work out, I can instil my knowledge and experience on another set of poor unsuspecting young artists.

My attempts of getting myself out there seems to have backfired a little as I suddenly realise I have double booked myself for both the open studio tour and Barnaby festival – both on the same weekend http://www.barnabyfestival.org.uk/art ( my name is Factory by the way. I asked if I could have just my name instead, but they wanted the exhibition title. Ho hum)

Perhaps I will worry about that problem nearer the date. In the meantime, I really need to do some work!


Things that I shoved in the pockets of my bag, such as scraps of paper, labels and receipts, are reminding me of NY things today. I started to keep things of interest after making zines with Jean McEwan over there, so it’s been quite wonderful to unpack my bags and suddenly find these things again.

I want to display them like a scrapbook, like I did many years ago, but use them as a journal – a useful aid for future works.

Of course, I haven’t achieved a lot today though – despite an incredible 11 hours sleep last night. It’s just made me feel groggy and not make full use of a lovely day off. But then, I’ve been thinking about a lot of ideas today, so I suppose it wasn’t totally wasted.

The second You tube video of us was uploaded today, so that’s made me think about how I answer questions about my work. I very rarely get interviewed – why would I be? So to have several interviews in a row has left my brain buzzing.

After feeling that my work was becoming more of a routine, the learning curve of the last 3 weeks is starting to unfold now and my mind has been jolted back to a thinking mode.

See/ listen to our interviews here : http://sciartistprojects.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/videos-artists-and-work-in-colonize/


It’s our last day in the US and we have a couple of hours to kill before heading for the airport.

We decided to head to Buffalo for our last two days here, booking into a hotel with the money we made from various workshops. It was a good choice – especially as Debra came with us for one night and acted as a guide to the City.

Buffalo is so much bigger than Jamestown, having a more ‘cosmopolitan’ feel and many major art galleries and museums.

Saturday (yesterday!) was a chance to use my ICOM card, visiting TheBuffalo Museum of Science to see the ‘Mummies of the World’ exhibition, to The Albright Knox Gallery to see their collection ( inc an excellent exhibition by Anselm Kiefer) then on to the Burchfield Art Centre to see their collection PLUS an evening discussion between author Ishmael Reed and Jeff Simon.

All of the above was between shopping (thrift shops everywhere here!) and stuffing our faces with anything that contained sugar. It was such a perfect end to a trip that has had so many extremes.

I think I have gained so much from the experience and hope to put my new found knowledge to good use.