“Fuck it and be an artist”: how painter Richard Day makes a living

“Fuck it and be an artist”: how painter Richard Day makes a living

For full-time artist and entrepreneur Richard Day, being an artist is a business, his paintings are products, and his life is golden. Richard brings home the bacon by selling commissioned artwork through his online Etsy shop: shipping paintings from his studio in Norwich to homes, restaurants and offices around the world.

Richard’s painting style is as fearless as his mindset. A carnival of colour with the unfettered energy of a rock anthem, his pieces combine graffitti with traditional portraiture in striking pop-art designs. The backgrounds are often filled with vibrant splashes of spray paint and scuffs of colour; the foregrounds daubed liberally with oil paint, depicting cultural icons, musicians and historical figures. Creating them can take anywhere between four hours and four days depending on the complexity of the design.

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Richard started freelancing full-time in March 2017, and is already building up a storm with over 32k followers on Instagram and hundreds of clients. He’s also taken part in numerous events including live painting – his performances always leaving audiences agape (and asking for his number).

One would think that if being a full-time creative was as easy as Richard makes out, half the population would hand in their resignation to start a cookery school or knit tea cosies for a living. So why aren’t we writing to our bosses right now?

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For some, becoming a full-time artist is a perilous step into the unknown. For Richard Day, it was a necessary manoeuvre to be free of bosses, gallery commission, and menial routines. “I always knew I wanted to work for myself but I never thought being a full time artist was an option.”

Richard admits: “Information isn’t a problem – we have an abundance of information that tells you how to do pretty much everything including how to be an artist. I’m sure there are people much more qualified to give people advice on the topic. My advice would be to just smash it – be very, very stubborn and say fuck it, I want to be an artist. And just go for it.” He adds: “You can champion good qualities such as perseverance, self belief and all that, but for me, stubbornness is key.”

Richard goes onto say there are things you need to take into account when working for yourself. For one, meticulous record keeping and sticking to deadlines is essential. “I’m very aware how many paintings I need to sell to make rent etc. and that is always something I need to consider.” Richard says the most difficult thing he faces is shipping the artwork out, which can often be delayed during the journey.

At the end of our chat I asked Richard what he thought he’d be doing for a living if he wasn’t an artist, to which he replied: “That’s a bloody good question. I have no idea. To be honest, I’d probably be working a shit job trying my best to be an artist.”

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You can find – and commission – more of Richard’s incredible work on his online shop here.

This article is the second in a series of artist features, researched and written by me with many thanks to Richard for the great interview and photos. 

– Karis

18 Ways to Date Yourself This Valentine’s Day

18 Ways to Date Yourself This Valentine’s Day

Whether you are single as a pringle or armpits-deep in a relationship, you should never forget to treat the no. #1 most important person in your life to some well-deserved quality time! (Hint: it’s you.)

Here are 18 ideas on how to go on a date with yourself this Valentine’s Day:

1. Buy an M&S ‘Valentine’s Dine in for 2 for £20’ deal and eat both of the meals yourself.

2. Write down a list of reasons why you’re awesome, and share it proudly all over social media.

3. Write a 2000 word essay over why a popular rom com is a terrible film.

4. Buy cat wine or dog beer and spend a romantic evening in with the pets.

5. Facebook stalk all the people who ever Done You Wrong and consider why their Wrong Doing has made their lives worse than yours. Really relish in it.

6. Draw a nude portrait of yourself. Don’t forget to frame it and hang it in the living room for when your parents next come to visit.

7. Buy a houseplant to be your understanding, judgement-free companion when you cry over Date Night.

8. Let out your hankering for PDA out on trees in the local park.

9. Do some yoga and pretend you have the body of the supple, tanned, muscled gods and goddesses you’ve followed on Instagram.

10. Buy yourself new, ridiculously lacy underwear, and take a good hour sashaying around the house in them.

11. Listen to my Strong Independent Woman playlist at full volume whilst doing activity number 10. (Suitable for Strong Independent Men too.)

12. Book a romantic room in a hotel and convince the staff that you’re waiting for your secret lover (who happens to be a sexy Russian spy).

13. Create a GIF that accurately represents your turbulent emotions so that people will finally understand you.

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14. Bake red velvet cupcakes and decorate them with amusing swear-words.

15. Go to a pottery painting café and hog all the colourful paints, so that the children nearby can only paint in shades of brown.

16. Sit in a deep candlelit bath and consider the fragility of existence.

17. Go to a park and gaze at the sky. Try and find as many penises and vaginas as you can in the shapes of clouds.

18. Invent your own brazenly alcoholic cocktail, trying to capture the strong and bitter taste of your soul.

I hope this has given you some ideas of how to spread more #selflove in your lives. Please date responsibly.


How to Lead a More Fulfilling Life

Some practical tips which I’ve found successful in making me feel more energetic, productive and satisfied in day-to-day life. They may work for you too!

  • Get up early. As much as this pains people, making the most of the daylight hours can make you feel way more on top of things, thus more productive and satisfied. Plus, sunlight is good for your mental health!
  • Maintain a regular sleeping pattern. This means you will have more energy day-to-day since your body is not confused all the time. It also helps with things like your metabolism and digestion if your diet remains fairly regular too.
  • Utilise empty time. Use the time you’re waiting for something, like the bus or your doctors appointment, to do things you enjoy. Why stare into space when you could be reading, blogging, or making plans?
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do (without having children or whatever). It means getting involved in something you love, helping out a good cause, and meeting some of the nicest people from all different walks of life. Plus a lot of places now support volunteers with reimbursements for travel or meals, so that you don’t lose money whilst volunteering.
  • Set yourself targets. For example, you could set yourself a target of buying Christmas presents before December, completing a painting in a fortnight, meeting one friend a week or cleaning your room in an evening. Completing a pre-set goal is the surest way to feel like you have used your time well and gives you boosts of motivation.
  • Watch less TV. Chilling in front of the TV is nice for a short while, but it is a big drain of your time if you’re trying to lead a more productive life. I always think of it as investing time in other people’s lives instead of your own. Use your normal TV session to do things which give you a better quality of life, such as meeting friends and family, instead of just filling time.
  • Make everything an event. It’s not pop over after work, it’s a Curry and Games Night. It’s not a night in, it’s Me Time with a hot bath and a cheeky cider. We’re not going to town, we’re going for truffles in Tracey’s Tea Shop and exploring Saint Nic’s Market. Giving specificity to the activities you do makes you look forward to them way more, and gives you more satisfaction after completing them.
  • Allow twice as much time to do things than you think. Whether it’s driving to the station, baking a cake, or going to the shops, it always takes way longer to do things than you expect. Give yourself more time so you don’t get stressed or be late for something important.
  • Take breaks. All this productivity aside, you really need to give yourself time to chill out amongst this so that you don’t go crazy. Just make sure you set yourself a time limit for it – whether it is an evening in or a week on holiday – otherwise chill time can turn into laziness or purposelessness, and that doesn’t feel good at all.
  • Enjoy the everyday. What you do every day such as showering, getting ready, traveling to work, sleeping and eating may not feel that special, but it is important to appreciate it since you spend a good percentage of your life doing it! Respect your meal times by giving yourself enough time to eat and making yourself nice food. Get enough sleep, buy thick toilet paper, make some cracking car CDs, and do whatever else you can to make yourself feel comfortable in everyday activities.
  • Be nice. Strangely enough, being nice feels nice. Be helpful and friendly to those you come into contact with. Don’t let your bad mood affect those around you, try to make fewer judgments about people, and be sincere. Being nice has both long and short term benefits, but mainly it makes you and the people around you have a more positive day.


Me on the left as Peter Rabbit at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

This is my method for leading a more productive and fulfilling life. If you have any tips on how you make the most out of your day, please comment below and I would love to add them to the list.

Thanks for reading!

20 Awkward Moments at Your First Grad Job

• Forgetting to bring an essential item on your first day of work
• Misreading a client’s body language and going in for a hug instead of a handshake
• Being a ‘superior’ to someone who is older and much more competent than you
• Accepting everyone else’s coffee offers but forgetting to do your round
• Attempting to appear sober in front of the boss at work socials
• That awkward conversation where every colleague explains to every other colleague why they don’t want to add each other on Facebook
• Pretending you know what VAT does and how it works
• Trying not to act surprised by the large sums of money that businesses deal with
• Trying to resist pointing out an innuendo during a business meeting
• Curbing your enthusiasm for food at all times
• Being the youngest attendee by a good 20 years at business networking events
• Accidentally making cutting sarcastic remarks during said networking events because you’re nervous and trying to be funny
• Having to politely laugh off sexist remarks in order to be professional
• Negotiating when is the appropriate time to start using winky emojis in emails
• Trying not to mention that you’re a bit hard up at the moment incase your boss thinks you’re hinting for a pay rise
• Having to ask your colleagues permission for a glass of wine at work-related events
• When the conversation moves to, and skirts around, how you got the job and the other people who applied for it
• When you get tongue tied whilst interviewing someone because they’re too attractive to handle
• Trying to discretely stuff your packed lunch box with samosas at the end of an investment meeting (because wasting food is something you simply cannot stoop to)
• Trying to hide your crazy cat lady nature until it’s too late for them to fire you

One of my comics, demonstrating that these awkward moments are far better than not having a job, let alone an enjoyable one!

If you want to see more of my comics and artwork, go to my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Bread, Mango Juice, and Community Empowerment

The Tompeang Russey Khmer Association (TRK) is an NGO based in Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia which aims to help people in the local community. We spoke to the executive director, Loeurm Sowath in their office in Banan this morning to learn about the organisation and see whether we (VSO Cambodia) and TRK could combine forces in the future.



TRK was founded in 2008 with just two projects (providing English lessons and building a community library), no government funding and a small group of volunteer staff including some University students. They established a branch in Battambang Province in 2010, as well as a partnership with a Korean organisation, who provides volunteers and some targeted funding. They now work in several different areas on eight types of projects, which include providing University scholarships for people who can’t afford the fees, providing electricity in order to hasten community development, and establishing credit unions for local middle- and low-income families.

One of their new projects is creating a social enterprise for women. Their aim is to recruit vulnerable women – women who might have low income, who have suffered from domestic violence or who have been victim to human trafficking – and provide them with training in order for them to earn a better living. They will learn about hygiene, basic business management, baking, and coffee making in order to be able to run a café. The training will give these women valuable skills, which will lead to them generating their own income, which with lead to independence, which in turn will lead to personal empowerment.

TRK are targeting people in the rural areas of Cambodia, including Banan, because they have less opportunities and, often, wealth than the people living in towns and cities. They are also extending their social enterprise project to include making a community vegetable and herb garden, and are planning to expand their office into a café and kitchen at the front which will use the products grown in the garden. This is so that, once trained, the women will have somewhere to work straight away. Sowath also suggested selling local products in the café, such as soya milk and mango juice made by a local farmer – which, take it from me, is delicious – in order to further include members of the community and provide more people with a sustainable income.

The training centre currently being built behind TPK’s office in Banan District


The Tompeang Russey Khmer Association is a fairly young but strong organisation that is powered by commitment to the welfare of their society, as well as a realistic attitude towards sustaining their organisation as well as their projects. It was a pleasure to meet the staff and make plans to help with their education programme. They certainly give reasons to be optimistic about national and global development, since there are so many amazing outcomes of TPK’s eight short years as an NGO: an organisation with such humble beginnings and big plans ahead.

Bats and Rice

Sampeau (Ship Mountain) is very popular to both Cambodian and international tourists. Besides being the site of harrowing events during the time of the Khmer Rouge, and being topped by the beautiful Sampeau Wat, the mountain also houses a colony of over one million wrinkle-lipped bats. Every evening, around 5:45pm, the bats take flight from the three main caves of Phnom Sampeau: Pkasla, Lakhaon and Aksopheak, in an amazing, dragon-like formation. They then disperse and travel over 50km in order to feed on flying insects.

Plant-hoppers are one of the bats’ natural sources of food – in fact, they constitute for about 30% of the bats’ diet. This is very significant since plant-hoppers are migratory agricultural pests, and are responsible for destroying up to 60% of the rice harvest. By eating the plant-hoppers, wrinkle-lipped bats in Cambodia save 2’000 tons of rice a year. Although this is just a fraction of the rice harvested in Cambodia, the amount saved could feed 21’000 Cambodians annually.

The colony of wrinkle-lipped bats in Phnom Sampeau is one of the largest in Cambodia. There is thought to be just 13 colonies in Cambodia, totalling 6.5 million bats altogether. However, due to hunting and mining the limestone hills, which is the natural habitat of the bats, the species is dwindling.

With the communities surrounding Phnom Sampeau relying on rice as a staple food, and lot of the farmers depending on it as a source of income, rice is hugely valuable to the smaller communities and to the country as a whole. The bats of Phnom Sampeau provide greater food security in a country who’s harvests are already being adversely affected by flooding and drought due to climate change, and are therefore very important to people here, whether the locals and tourists are aware of it or not.

Often, without our realising it, the animals and plant life around us play a huge role in our stabilising our ecosystem and thus greatly affect our welfare. What would originally be viewed as an interesting and novel tourist attraction actually could be improving – or even saving – the lives of thousands of Cambodians. This is just one example of why preserving wildlife is of vital important for the planet, and for us as one of the many species who live upon it.

The view west from the top of Phnom Sampeau

See the Game and Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Conservation Trust Cambodia for information, articles and events on wildlife conservation in the UK and Cambodia.

Click here to see my article about celebrating Women’s Day in the community of Phnom Sampov, who live underneath Ship Mountain.

Belated Introduction


I thought I should introduce myself before I get stuck into this blog. I’m Karis, a Fine Art graduate of Lancaster Uni, born and bred in Yorkshire. I’m part of the comic and illustration collective Big Brown Eyes, and am interested in art and culture, indie comics, and tea.

At the moment I am a volunteer for VSO ICS in Battambang province, Cambodia in their livelihoods Programme. During my placement I will be helping to form a Youth Cooperative for young people to share skills and knowledge about agriculture in order to improve their income. I started this blog to talk about our project here, issues that interest me and my experiences at the other side of the world.

I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment about etc. Follow me on twitter @KarisL_ and Facebook, and Big Brown Eyes on twitter @BBEcollective and Tumblr.

Our team working in Banan District, Battambang, Cambodia for VSO ICS

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Phnom Sampov, Cambodia

International Woman’s Day is a worldwide celebration of women’s achievements politically, socially, and personally, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness about women’s rights. It seems appropriate that I spent Woman’s Day halfway across the world in Phnom Samov, Battambang Province, Cambodia, and was lucky to witness a truly international celebration of the occasion.

Inequality between men and women is still prevalent in Cambodia, and impacts everyday life. Living in the community has highlighted the division between men and women to me, particularly in the rural communities. For instance, in Khmer culture touching is inappropriate between men and women, despite a lot of physical intimacy between the same sex. Even family members such as fathers and daughters are not permitted to hug or touch at all when the child is above the age of 10. Men will eat separately before the women at meal times and will rest while the women do the household chores. Alcoholism is a pressing issue here, especially for the men, which besides draining the family income can lead to domestic abuse.

However, despite these very real issues, the attitude towards gender is definitely changing for the better. For instance, the women of Phnom Sampov took a very pro-active approach to promoting women’s rights for International Women’s Day. On the Saturday 5th March, the community of Phnom Sampov held an event to celebrate the women in their community and the improving outlook on a woman’s role in their society.

A banner at the celebration in Phnom Sampov

During the event, the community discussed the outdated expectations of women in Cambodia. Traditionally, women were supposed to stay at home and not pursue higher education, since it was seen as irrelevant in the women’s role to look after the children and the house. Women were expected to stay at home and not travel far for either jobs or leisure. There were few female leaders and women had very little power.

At the event, the women of Phnom Sampov celebrated the improving freedom of women. Although in the rural areas traditional roles still apply, the attitude towards gender roles is changing rapidly within the younger generations and the city in particular. For instance, in my host home, my host family expressed a desire for the three granddaughters to go to University and get a good career.

In a country with formerly very tight restrictions on women’s rights, it is extremely important for events like this to take place so that women can talk openly about their thoughts and situations. Since the changing attitude towards men and women is, according to some of the women I’ve spoken to in this community, due to an increased awareness of women’s rights throughout Cambodia, discussing the topic is particularly important for women to question the way they are treated and perceived. Only through this can misconceptions, such as that men should the sole breadwinners of the family, can be challenged and changed.

They have a saying here, which is that “women are the mothers of the world”. It means that women can do everything in the world that men can do. They play a vital role in national development and if the world contained only men, it will not develop or survive.

Taken from Instagram:https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/215891375863478394

If you’d like to know more about the issues and progress of gender in Cambodia, here is a good website.

Follow me to keep track of my experiences in Cambodia working as a volunteer for VSO ICS.

Happy International Women’s Day!