The Truth About Remote Working

The Truth About Remote Working
  • It’s so much easier to concentrate at home rather than in an office. Who knew your beloved co-workers were a huge distraction this whole time!
  • Few of your friends and family seem to believe you actually do any “real work”, and think you must be having a jolly good time chilling all day, rather than frantically trying to achieve your monthly targets.
  • Working from your bed is great at first, but unsustainable. Two main problems here: the strong urge to go back to sleep, and serious bum ache.
  • Your online shopping habits have dramatically increased – being around for every delivery slot is a liberating (and financially dangerous) experience!
  • People expect that you are free to chat and do chores in the daytime, which is not the case if you actually want to keep your job. Saying that, I won’t say no to a cheeky laundry load every now and then, am I right folks.
  • You never, ever wear pyjamas to work, because you fear that’s the road to sadness and despair.
  • Some days you do get desperate to hear a human voice and end up trying to keep your colleague on the phone for as long as possible.
  • Lunch is an extravagant affair with great attention to detail.
  • Tea and coffee is brought to you all the time without question because: “you’re working, I’ll do it”. Best five words in the English language.
  • Socialising on weekday evenings more than than once a week is now emotionally and physically possible.
  • Being one of those cool young professionals who work in coffee shops from their MacBook is not a thing. Commuting, spending money and being in a noisy environment cuts out most of the benefits of working from home!
  • 3 ‘o’ clock, 5 minute nap? Don’t mind if I do.
  • Co-worker messaging groups are the enemy of productivity. Every time your phone bings you have to check Whatsapp, then before you know it you’re halfway down your Facebook homepage. Please social media, have mercy.
  • You find yourself working overtime most days even though no-one is around to witness it. This is mainly to account for the nap and the Facebook stalk of an old school friend you did earlier that day though.
  • You basically become the cat’s servant, who begs you for food and attention all day.
  • Occasionally people catch you having in-depth conversations with the cat, and question if remote working is actually as healthy as you claim.

I hope you enjoyed this list blog about remote working, which I’ve been doing for nearly a year now as Marketing and Communication Manager of Pop My Mind.

Naturally everyone has different preferences towards working remotely or in an office setting depending on their preferred working style. I really enjoyed the benefits of working from home, but it has its disadvantages too, particularly missing out on the social side of work.

What do you think? Do you think it’s a dream come true, or super dull? Let me know in the comments!

For more work-related list blogs, check out You Know You’re Becoming a Responsible Adult When… and You Know You’re Used to the 9-5 When…

Thanks for reading!

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.

Karis

You Know You’re Used to the 9-to-5 When…

You Know You’re Used to the 9-to-5 When…
  • Swearing has infiltrated into daily office conversation on all sides.
  • You have become a little too comfortable sharing personal info with your co-workers.
  • You have come to terms with the fact you are a bit of a hermit (and by “a bit” I mean “a lot”).
  • You have attended an appraisal, and discovered talking about yourself for an hour is an exhausting endurance test which should never be suffered by any living soul.
  • You have stopped entertaining the thought that attending more than one social activity on a weekday within a week is a possibility.
  • You voluntarily give yourself, and stick to, a strict bedtime.
  • You have allocated a generous portion of your monthly earnings to a “new work clothes” budget.
  • You have calculated just how much you earn (i.e. are objectively worth) a day.
  • You now own, of your own free will, a Boots Advantage Card.
  • You’ve realised that actually a lot of what your mum says is very sensible and wise.
  • You’ve read the first two chapters of every shelf-help book aiming to improve happiness, motivation and/or productivity that Google has recommended to you. And aside for not wearing make-up to work, you’ve not really followed any of the advice given.
  • Every time you meet your friends you say, “aww we should do this more often!” – but in reality, if you were to fit any more into your already packed schedule you would internally combust.
  • You have enjoyed the smug feeling of being able to buy your sisters drinks and not ask for it back in taxi money at the end of the night.
  • You feel like the ratio of how many coffees you make for people in the office, versus how many you accept, is the direct indication of your value as a human.
  • Spending the 24 days of your annual leave in the wisest way possible is a year-long headache.
  • The delay-start function on the washing machine has revolutionized your life.
  • You have realised that even if your friends and boyfriend eventually find out you’re really boring and leave you, you will always have food. And this brings you great comfort.
  • Despite being perfectly content in the job you have, you have decided to change your role drastically in order to be nearer to vegan cafes, loved ones and cats.

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like my other list-blogs You Know You’re Becoming a Responsible Adult When… and 20 Awkward Moments at Your First Grad Job! Thank you for reading.

How to be Vegetarian in Japan

How to be Vegetarian in Japan

Although people had warned me that it might be a struggle to avoid meat and fish in Japan, I must admit I didn’t quite appreciate just how difficult it would be to find vegetarian food there before I went – that is to say, vegetarian food which constituted towards full, wholesome meals. For the first half of my trip I really struggled, and mainly survived on rice balls and pizza flavoured crisps (don’t tell Grandma). However, after slowly discovering more and more vegetarian and vegan options hidden in the corners of menus, by the end of the holiday I was fuller and fatter than ever.

I wrote this blog article so that you know what to eat if you’re planning on going to Japan and avoiding meat or fish when you’re there…there’s no time to be hangry when there is a beautiful country to explore!

Your Basic Vegetarian Food Groups

1. Onigiri

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Whenever you’re stuck for something to eat, get yourself to the nearest Family Mart or Lawsons and pick up some rice balls. They tend to either be plain rice with a small amount of filling wrapped with seaweed, or flavoured rice without the filling or the seaweed. Both versions are delicious and provide a great lunch or snack. The vegetarian flavours in the filled onigiri are seaweed (two varieties) which have a green label, or pickled plum. The rice balls without a filling tend to all be vegetarian – in any case you will be able to tell if there aren’t because you’ll see the bits of meat mixed in the rice from the outside.

2. Sushi

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Famously sushi often contains raw or cooked fish (apparently tuna mayo is extremely tasty) however you can usually find veggie versions in both supermarkets and restaurants. I really recommend conveyor-belt sushi restaurants for eating out – you can clearly see from the menu what you’re getting, and even better the vegetable sushi is the cheapest going! Keep your eye out for sushi with cucumber (my favourite), pickled radish, spring onion and egg, which seem to be common. Just whatever you do, don’t go for the bean stuffed sushi, it is terrible.

3. Inarizushi

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So technically this is a type of sushi, but since it is so delicious it deserves its own category. Inarizushi is made of abura-age (fried tofu pouces) stuffed with vinegared rice and flavoured with soy sauce. It has a pleasant sweet taste and is very moreish! You can find these in supermarkets on their own or in mixed bento boxes, making it very convenient as a picnic food, and are also found in some restaurants. This was my favourite savoury snack in Japan!

4. Vegetable Tempura

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I was told about this dream by my sister before going on holiday, and we discovered it on our second night there. Simple and effective, tempura is literally something on a stick which is deep fried, giving it a crisp batter and is often accompanied with a dipping sauce or salt. It turns out you can make tempura out of anything, including shrimp, sausage, meat, tofu, aubergine, potato, cheese, asparagus, onion, tomato and quail egg. At more casual tempura restaurants you can choose precisely what selection you want – giving you complete veggie freedom – however if you go to restaurants with set menus, sometimes they will only have an option for mixed tempura (including shrimp). I found that in this instance you can ask for only vegetables and they will happily accommodate your request, but it would be worth checking this before you all sit down and order drinks.

5. Okonomiyaki

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Basically a pancake made with the usual ingredients of eggs and flour as well as shredded cabbage, this dish makes a very hearty meal. It is often sold as a street food, but can also be ordered in special restaurants where you have designated hot-plates in front of you to cook it the way you like it: an extremely messy and fun experience! Hiroshima Okonomiyaki is another version of the pancake with added yakisoba noodles. You can find both of these pre-prepared in some supermarkets too – just be careful that they aren’t hiding pieces of pork, which are sometimes added for flavour.

6. Instant noodles

When you’re in dire straits, and you just need a big hot meal, turn to instant noodles. Japan has the biggest selection of instant noodles in one corner shop that I have seen in my lifetime, you are honestly spoilt for choice. Some have meat in, but if in doubt the curry flavour is a safe bet for since it only contains vegetable stock. There are also some pot pastas which are conveniently titled in English so you can get your tomato and basil fix too, and you can fill them up with boiling water provided by the supermarket. Convenient!

7. Tofu alternatives

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Japan doesn’t really do vegetarian meals on purpose, however often they do it accidentally by including tofu in dishes as a protein alternative to meat. Keep an eye out for these dishes, especially as part of soups or sides, because you are sure to find them on a few menus.

At our ryokan (traditional inn) the chefs kindly swapped my fish for tofu however with a week or so of warning – above is the delicious meat-free meal they made for my breakfast, featuring fried tofu.

8. Tomato Ramen

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This food is not particularly common, nor easy to find, however if you come across it you must try it, because it will change your life. A mash-up between Japanese and Italian cuisine, it basically features ramen noodles, vegetables and other ingredients in a tomato-based broth. Since being vegetarian means you can’t sample traditional ramen (which is made of a broth using meat or fish) this is a great alternative to try some of the food you’ve heard so much about, in a strangely familiar fusion dish. You can also add cheese, satisfying the dairy craving you’ve had since arriving!

9. Sweet Treats

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The deserts are to die for in Japan, and happily usually vegetarian friendly! Although the soft textures can take some time getting used to, the subtle sweet flavours are heavenly. I recommend shaved ice with syrup to cool you down in the hot weather, which is a traditional snack, and to have a matcha tea with a cake in a traditional tea house. It is a must-have for any stay in Japan!

Recommendations for vegetarians

1. Eat at western-inspired restaurants

I know you came here to sample the “authentic culture” and the “local cuisine”, but if you’re tired of accidentally eating bits of fish, then treat yourself to a nice big meal in an Italian restaurant or British pub (yes, they have those, and they are hilarious). There will always be a vegetarian choice of pizza, chips or garlic bread on the menu, and you will be very grateful for it despite being able to eat the same meal in Britain any day of the week.

2. Eat the sides, not the main course

Often in restaurants you can order your main meal and choose from lots of extras, just like in the UK. If you don’t mind confusing the waiter, order lots of sides instead of a dinner. You can make up a good meal out of grilled vegetables, salad, rice and noodles this way if you can’t find anything appropriate on the main menu.

3. Cook

One of my favourite meals there was when we tried cooking our own dinner in our apartment using the ingredients on offer at the local supermarket. It was loads of fun to work on something together and we saved some spending money too. Get yourself some sake and have a wild night in…

4. Bring a meat-eating friend

They will never get tired of eating free food, trust me. It’s super useful to have someone on your team willing to try the weird and wonderful things you spontaneously buy, and give them the okay. I really appreciated my sister taking on my unwanted food when I bought the wrong stuff, I hate wasted food!

5. Explain yourself

Don’t assume that restaurant staff know what ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ means – it is not a well-known diet choice in Japan! Always explain yourself fully when ordering food and be specific about what you want.

6. Your enemy…

…Is dashi (fish broth) and bonito (fish flakes). They are used in loads of dishes in Japan and are to be avoided at all costs if you want a pure veggie diet. You should be able to tell if a dish has them in though because of their smell.

7. Go pescatarian. Yes I said it.

If you’re not too fussy over what you want to eat, and want to concentrate on more important stuff than searching for a restaurant you can all agree on, then being pescatarian for your holiday would certainly make your life a lot easier. Since the Japanese diet is heavily based on fish, it would open up your options to accommodate most of the menu in any restaurant. However, using the pointers above you won’t have to go to this extreme if you don’t want to.

Useful Phrases

It’s worth learning these phrases before you go to save yourself some unpleasant mouthfuls…

I am vegetarian. Watashi wa bejitarian desu

Is this vegetarian? Kono bejitarian wa?

Does this contain meat or fish? Kore wa niku to sakana ga haitte imasu ka?

Does this contain fish stock? Kore wa sakana no dashi ga haitte imasu ka?

I don’t eat meat and fish. Watashi wa niku to sakana wo tabemasen

I don’t eat meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products. Watashi wa oniku to shīfūdo to tamago to nyūseihin wo tabemasen

Or if you can’t remember that: No meat or fish? Niku mo sakana mo nai?

Yes, it is okay. Hai, daijōbudesu.

I’ll have this please. *point at menu* kore kudasai

No thank you. Kekkō desu.

Obviously I was only in Japan for two weeks and have only scratched the surface of what delicious foods they have to offer the vegetarian community! If you have any tips and foodstuffs to share, please let me know.

Thanks for reading.

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First Impressions of Japan

First Impressions of Japan

Below are some observations of what I found unusual or interesting about Japan from my visit there. I hope they entertain you and give you a glimpse of my experience in this wacky and wonderful country! If you’ve been to Japan and want to add anything to this list or share your own stories, please do in the comments section, I’d love to hear about it.

 
• People are really polite and go out of their way to be helpful, to the point where it can even become inconvenient, such as showing you how to get on a train you don’t want or directing you how to take the best photograph.
• If you ask for directions, you will probably be led in person right to your destination.
• Most people are very petite and it is rare to see someone slightly overweight, making it impossible to fit in as large westerners!
• There are vending machines absolutely everywhere, selling every kind of soft drink imaginable as well as beer, cigarettes, chocolate and even cooked food.
• The main train stations are massive, and we got lost more than once whilst trying to find the right exit.
• Each train station has its own little jingle which plays when a train arrives. Lots of these are from well known songs, and some can be quite majestic.
• In rural areas especially, there are lots of cyclists who never use the bike paths and choose to disturb pedestrian walkways. Instead of ringing the bell to ask you to move, they artfully weave in and out of the people who are walking.
• There is matcha tea flavoured everything!
• The toilets range from being very high tech (with self-opening, self-flushing, music playing and rinsing capabilities) to basic squat toilets. Sometimes in one bathroom there is a choice of both to suit what people are most comfortable with.
• Every street is lined with loads of cables and power lines, which make quite impressive silhouettes in the evening.
• Most things, such as shrines, shops and museums, close early around 4 or 5pm outside the city centre, making lazy lay-ins impossible.
• Except for in certain night-life areas, in the evenings the streets are completely silent and barely anyone is around.
• Women dress very fashionably – mostly in loose, plain clothing – and have immaculately clear skin.
• People can smoke in bars and drink on the street, which takes a while getting used to.
• People rarely talk on the train, but often have a nap instead. I also didn’t see anyone eat or drink at the station or on the trains.
• Of all the Japanese manners I learnt before arriving, very few were followed by modern Japanese people, such as not displaying public affection or ordering the same drink in the first round.
• If in doubt, nodding and smiling gets positive feedback in all social interactions even if you can’t say anything other than “sorry”, “please” and “thank you”.
• Despite there being no rubbish bins to be found, the streets are very clean and tidy. Our hosts were strict on waste disposal and it seems to be taken very seriously here.
• The rural landscape consists mainly of forested areas instead of the meadows, farmland and shrubbery of the UK countryside. It is very beautiful.
• People are obsessed with cute animals here since pet ownership isn’t as commonplace – meaning cat, hedgehog and owl cafes are common! However animal welfare for both pets and livestock is questionable…
• Every single temple and castle we visited had been burnt down due to lightning or war and rebuilt.
• Food is either soft, sticky or slimy. Finding hard food in a meal is a rare treasure!
• The Japanese diet relies heavily on rice, which constitutes for the bulk of both savoury and sweet food.
• Zebra crossings alert you that you may walk by playing various bird noises.
• Ponds often have thriving communities of terrapin and koi fish who beg for food by gathering under bridges and opening their mouths.
• You can buy a decent meal out for £7.
• As a hobby or treat, Japanese people hire traditional kimonos and accompanying outfits, and walk around pretty parks and temples in them taking selfies.
• Animals are huge, especially butterflies, wasps, fish, crows and ants. Strangely the cats are still skinny though.
• People seem to be quite pious and often visit shrines and temples to pray. There are all sorts of good luck charms you can buy from shrines to help with love, study, wealth, family and health.
• Nothing is done by halves in Japan, and everything from adverts to shop signs to themed cafes are taken to the extreme by being loud, bold and obvious at all times!

 

Read more about my travel experiences such as what you come to appreciate living in Cambodia, or Misa’s story of starting a business as a young Cambodian woman in rural Battambang.

 

Thanks for reading!

Why is Art so Expensive?

Why is Art so Expensive?

As an artist and someone working in the creative industry, I often hear the complaint that pieces of art for sale are very expensive to buy. We wonder why on earth this bit of paper costs that more than a flat screen television, or how someone can put a figure on the price of an oil painting in the first place. This is a very difficult topic, especially since art is often perceived as a decorative item as opposed to something which usually goes much deeper. However, from the perspective of art being a decorative item, we can still learn as to why artists charge so much for their product in comparison to that floor lamp you’ve had your eye on.

Essentially, to understand why art often carries a large price tag, you have to view the artist as someone who provides a service, similar to a plumber or a financial advisor. Much like helping you fit a shower unit or advising you on your mortgage, the artist has a certain set of skills which you want to use to benefit your life, and their rates depend on a multitude of factors which relate to this.
I’ve listed below some of the things which go into an artwork and contribute to its value…

 

Materials

Starting from the basics, to create each piece of work requires materials and tools to put it together. These need to be accounted for before the piece is priced.
An oil painting, for example, will need a canvas, paint, terps, linseed oil, brushes and other materials that the artist may use. Material costs can add up quite dramatically, and before you know if you’ve spent your weekly budget in the Range!

Time

Time is the most precious resource that anyone has, including artists, and often they will use this as a measure to determine the price of their pieces. The more experienced an artist is, the more value they often give to their time because they understand this relationship better, but also may have a greater number of other responsibilities or commissions to juggle.

Training

A piece of artwork is often seen as an individual item, however behind every piece of artwork there are many, many years of training and practise. This usually includes college, further education, and / or thousands of hours of personal development to refine their skills in their specific medium. (Just imagine what University costs alone!)

So when you are buying an artwork, you are not just buying the physical drawing or painting but also the expertise that the artist has developed over a long period of time which gives them the skills necessary to make your piece in the first place.

Earning a living

Most commissioning artists don’t earn a living from their work alone – but we can safely assume that the ideal situation would be for them to make a living from their creative projects if they could. In any case, the artist wants to be able to sell their work at a fair rate which is appropriate to an average wage.
If you imagine a very modest wage of £15’000 a year, that would mean that they would have to sell £1’250 worth of artwork each month. If the artist is selling their work for £125 each time, that means they have to make and sell a whopping 10 artworks in 4 weeks! Therefore, providing that the artist is not a machine, the price of the artwork needs to be much higher in order for them to earn a reasonable living wage from the pieces they do make.

Attic Art

Another reason why individual pieces of work are high is that – however skilled and well known the artist may be – that will never sell all of their work, or even the majority of it. A lot of what an artist makes is either to develop their skills, or is created to put in the market place but never gets bought. If you factor all the time and resources that an artist will put into all the pieces they don’t sell, the pieces that they do gain value in order to compensate for this.

Presentation and transportation

If an artist sells their work framed, or exhibits their work in gallery spaces, they will need to factor mounting and framing into their costs too. They will also need to account for the costs of delivering the pieces to its new home, which can be very expensive for large or heavy items, and for sending overseas.

Commission fees

When you come across an artwork in a gallery or magazine, you may see the price and naturally think that the artist is being a bit greedy. However it is worth remembering that the price that you see will not be the amount that the artist receives for their piece.
When submitting their work for an opportunity to be showcased online, enter a competition, apply for an award or have their work in an exhibition, artists are usually required to pay an entry fee. This fee varies depending on the quality of the opportunity and can range from a few pounds to £50 or £100.
On top of this, when a piece is sold, the gallery or curator will take a commission from the overall price to cover their time and effort in creating the exhibition. Usually this is between 20 and 50% depending again on the type of opportunity.

Taxes

Don’t forget like all law abiding citizens, artists need to pay their taxes! So factor in that about 20% of profit from each artwork sale (excluding costs of materials) goes back to the taxman.

Craft

When considering buying an artwork, it is important to remember that you are not buying a normal decoration, like a standing lamp or a cushion, nor are you buying a throw away commodity like a phone case which deteriorates and is replaced over time. What you are taking ownership of is something completely unique. It had been made by hand and no-one else in the world will own anything like it. This makes it not only valuable to begin with, but gives it the potential to gain value with age.

 

The thing to take away from this article is that a lot goes into creating artwork that contributes to the cost of their piece. If an artist was to factor all of this into their prices, no one would be able to afford them! When you buy or commission artwork from an emerging or professional artist, you are always getting an extremely good deal which is much less than the real value of the work.
Although you are not buying something that will heat your shower or solve your money problems, you are investing in something unique, which you desire, which will not only benefit your living space but is also a great investment that increases in value over time. Plus, you will be feeding the starving artist  – how kind of you!

Thanks for reading.

Business and Art Working as One: the Echo Exhibition

Business and Art Working as One: the Echo Exhibition

Experiencing the Echo Exhibition opening night really showed me how businesses of any specialty can support and progress the artistic world, and I think that it is a fantastic blueprint for the future of commercial fine art. Here is my experience of the fantastic Echo Exhibition that opened last night…

About the exhibition

The exhibition is homed in, and supported by, Prettys – a solicitor firm in Ipswich ran by people with genuine enthusiasm towards the arts. Prettys host a biannual exhibition, where they basically deck out their lovely office space with artwork from University of Suffolk artists and invite lots of people from the local area to see it on the opening night.

Luckily for us, this year the work featured in the exhibition was exclusively from the Waterfront Studios – which is a space for artist alumni of the University of Suffolk to rent inexpensive studio spaces within the university.

Each year the role of curator changes, and this time the Echo Exhibtion was curated by the lovely Sarah Bale and Julie Dodds, who share a studio space at Waterfront Studios. They were responsible for selecting and collecting work and installing the two story labyrinth of Prettys’ office with 24 artworks – a mammoth task which they managed to accomplish with tireless enthusiasm and energy.

Where do I come in?

Although I don’t personally rent a studio space (although I’m looking forward to that point in the future!) I happily fell into the exhibition since I work for a creative company called Pop My Mind which is based in the Waterfront Studios. We work in a shared office space in the middle of the artists, meaning we are constantly met with the hammering and drilling noises of Carlos’ jewelry making (the ‘Mad Dentist’ as we like to call him), the cheerful conversations of Sarah and Julie from the corner, and the smell of turps from Adam’s paintings in progress. It’s a really awesome space to work in (even though I can get easily distracted from all the exciting things happening around us) and since my co-workers and I are also artists, the curators kindly included our work!

I entered four artworks into the exhibition which were included: three portraiture ink paintings and one illustrative piece. Plus I also snuck in another ink painting when Sarah and Julie were scavenging for more artwork on the day of the opening night, since Prettys opened up another room for them to fill!

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Me and one of my pieces which was included in the exhibition, called Empty Tension

The private view

The opening night drew in loads of interesting people from the local area, including Prettys staff and contacts, friends and family of the artists, creative people from around Ipswich, and even the Major of Ipswich! There was a lovely buzzing atmosphere as people discussed the artwork and their connection to the event, and despite the amount of rooms which the work was spread between, there were many tight squeezes through doorways and quite a queue at the buffet table.

It was lovely to see my pieces integrated into the exhibition among some outstanding work from the Waterfront Studios artists. There was such varied and high quality work throughout the exhibition, and I found it especially nice to see people’s artwork which I had seen in-the-making now finished and out of the studio context. Having them displayed on walls around the office really brought them to life: Sarah and Julie did an amazing job of matching complementing artworks together and arranging the exhibition so that it seemed both professional and homely.

Ten pieces of works were sold that evening alone, the first one being a stunning portrait of Frida Kahlo by portrait artist Adam Riches (see it on Twitter here). My co-workers and I actually bet on Adam that he would be the first to win – which obviously means we have excellent taste! A few artists also got commissioned that night from visitors of the exhibition looking to furnish their lobbies with some fine art.

A huge congratulations to my boss Oliver Squirrell too, who won the ‘Best in Show’ award for his photographic print (below). This is an award with a paid prize, given out twice a year by Prettys Solicitors to the favourite piece of artwork as selected by their staff.

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Oliver aside his winning piece

How this benefits the artists

As an artist, one of the key things to grow (both in terms of developing your practice and your creative career) is through exhibition exposure. Being involved in exhibitions like the Echo Exhibition is a really valuable experience which connects you to people in the community who you might not have the excuse to talk to much before – as well as a means to meet loads of other art lovers who may be interested in your work and want to support your progress. The biannual opening event by Prettys is looked forward to by lots of people in Ipswich – after all, who doesn’t want to spend an evening drinking wine and looking at artwork?

This valuable exposure of your pieces to like-minded people, and space to mingle and chat, is really what makes exhibiting work in professional ground exhibitions so exciting! The award from Prettys is also a lovely added touch since it is a great way of rewarding an artist for their merit whether their piece is sold or not.

A win-win situation

In my opinion, getting the art world and the business world talking is very important. Being an artist is a not an easy profession or hobby – especially when trying to make a worthwhile living out of your creativity – and it can be difficult to get on the first stepping stone of your creative career without support from the community.

No matter what we do as our day jobs, we should all support the things we are passionate about wherever possible, which is just what Prettys has done. The office has now been furninshed with some diverse and skilful artwork for half a year, and the artists have had their work seen by loads of people and even sold due to this. This win-win situation is a fantastic way of making art relevant and commercially viable; I definitely think that other companies should follow their lead and bring the arts as a significant aspect to their business to improve their own workplace and the creative industries too.

To see some of my artwork, please see my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for my current work!

Thanks for reading.