A story behind the name…

‘You paid for me’ although sounding derogatory, has a whole different meaning behind it. It’s not an explanation to say that my subject are being paid for, rather than, a direct quote. A quote that came from the subject behind part I of this practice. A quote that she herself had written in her blog, said to a client, and also repeated to me during an interview. So, I felt it was right to use this as my title. ‘you paid for me’ is an explanation to clients, it’s an explanation to the viewers of my project, and it’s a big ‘f’ you to the shit-talking clientele, that claim these women are ‘dirty whores’ and still try to pay for their time. Where’s the sense in that? I want my project to be a statement to the people that don’t understand the industry, to build awareness of individuals who choose to work as sex workers, just like ‘you paid for me’ was a statement made to a client who complained about his experience with a worker.

I want it said that although my knowledge of the industry has grown since the last two years, I also don’t know enough. And I will keep saying this, but, collaboration is the key to understanding more. If I can learn more about the industry, we can teach more people about the industry. We can produce imagery and art that represents sex workers in a way that means they are that little bit more understood, than they were previously. Not to show them as ‘human’, because I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean, but to produce their stories, to create a body of work that questions, then understands, and that presents identity in its many forms.

Why did I choose to investigate SWers?

The first time I had ever met/seen a working girl was during my final year of university. We’d just moved in to a block of student flats that was situated in the Red Light Districts of Huddersfield, we were unknowing to this when we first moved, however did not feel affected or offended by this. If we were to see the girls on the street we would just say ‘hi’ and get on with our day, I found no disturbances, or irritancy towards this. I just knew these ladies were doing their jobs, and that’s that. My knowledge on the sex industry was very, very limited, with only news and media references to go from, however I felt our experiences seemed different to what was being presented in the news. My main observations during this time, was the wariness of other friends or students throughout the time we lived there. I feel that the news and media feeds many people with falseness. In fact, we probably had more issues with our neighbours, than we did what was happening on the streets.

One year later I began my Master’s degree at the same University, but different block of flats, however the area was instilled in my mind, especially with the added knowledge that there had been brutal murders, and violence that occurred round in the district. I kept revisiting areas, investigating and observing. Then I found that The Yorkshire Ripper, a well-known serial killer, had also at one point murdered a vulnerable woman, round the corner to where we lived. It made me scared, not of the women, but for these women, because of the chance that violence like this could reoccur. It made me investigate in to the aspects of safety measures and support groups that were available for the workers. And my research began at this point.

As soon as I began researching in to the industry I found out that many workers take up multiple pseudonyms to avoid discrimination or abuse. This was something I wanted to investigate, and after looking at multiple bodies of work, I realised there was a gap in the market for research that examined sex workers many identities, but also that allowed the project to be collaborative, and hopefully a contribution to the industry.

For more information visit my website here.

Those who left sketchbooks

I’ve recently been looking at the way artists document their practice. How they acknowledge their inner conversations, but also just to understand that “sketching”, and figuring things out is normal. I have decided to share a couple below:

Keith Haring’s Journal; 1971 – 1989

With such an iconic, striking, and unique style, I wanted to put Keith Haring’s journal entries first in this blog, his use of social activism, in a stylised and eye-catching way, his work shows part of a new era of pop-art/graffiti. I think his journal’s make it all the more interesting, because as some would expect there to be sketches, drawings, and practice-pieces, there are in actual fact just writing, and daily memoirs. Even such minimalists details are appealing and say a huge deal about how he worked as an artist.

There is so much to unpack with his diaries, there are hundreds of pages, and a lot of context, the books establish at the age of 12 upwards till his 30s.

Janice Lowry’s Journal (93):

A beautiful artifact of musings, emotions, art, meditations, grief and gratitude, Janice Lowry’s journal is an art form in itself. The kind of sketchbook you wished you had as an art/photography student. Something that looked professionally scruffy, well worked through, and included the contents of your life. Not only all of this beauty, but Lowry has curated a historical artefact, where she discussed all of her fears from the 9/11, in this diary, and how she felt during this time. – god I wish I thought about it sooner (Covid n’ all).

I just love this idea of documenting your work, but also going through your own thoughts on top of this. A private/public artefact and additional piece of art.

12th July 2001 – 3rd December.

Jack Whitten: Notes from the woodshed:

Finally, Whitten’s ‘Notes From the Woodshed’ has become a published piece of work. A phenomenal chunk of writings, and explorations behind his paintings. Although not as impactful as the handwritten journal entries, and the journals themselves, the impact with this publication comes from much of the extensiveness, and size of the book. The book is a gathering of different muses throughout his practice, and placed into a beautifully designed book. To see artists words from 1939, is astonishing in itself.

Anatomy of a scandal

Rasha Kahil: an artist whose work I’ve kept in my research folder for a while now, and I have to admit that it’s a fantastic project, Anatomy of a scandal documents the process after her project is released to the public. The response to her work includes a vast amount of negativity, and she uses this to her advantage by establishing a second publication of work. This inspires me. It ushers me to make something controversial, establish a body of work that could create some conversation, and discussions, and with these discussions, to have them available as a second piece of art.

I have started looking towards artists who document their processes, whether that’s pre-publication, or post. The establishment of audience you get from documenting and showing how you work is interesting. I also feel as though if I was to begin making diary entries, or even blog posts regarding my practice, it will present how ethically driven I am through the work. I want to show my subjects that I am genuine, and avoiding the exploitation of my subjects, by properly doing the research.

Secondly, the projects origin In your home, presents themes of identity, as well as, relationship between sitter and subject. In this work, however, the relationship is slightly unusual. In prospect the images are of herself, so self-portraits, however, she is placing herself in her friends’ homes, when they are gone, therefore, it then becomes about them, and their relationship with their friend, the photographer. It’s an interesting dynamic, and some so unique that I will continue to use it as influence in future.

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Both projects can be seen here.

You get me: M. Hussain

In correspondence to my previous post looking at identity, I want to discuss Mahtab Hussain’s practice “You get me?” The practice mixes class, and racial identities, and encapsulates the two perfectly. The photographs mainly take place throughout London, Nottingham and Birmingham, examining South Asian Muslim men living in contemporary Britain.

It highlights the issues these men have with their sense of self, and belonging, an important process of which a multi-cultural identity will face. As mentioned on Hussain’s website, the men expressed their feeling of being ridiculed by the media representations of the lives they live. It acknowledges the identities of which these men have taken, and the fact that all of them have adopted some form of Britishness.

It is important that this project is acknowledged, it depicts 21st century young men and boys so well, and creates strong narrative of the crosses within cultures. The set-up of the images are well thought out, and beautifully composed, it speaks clearly about class and race.

You get me and more publications can be viewed here.

Sawada: Facial Recognition

Identity becomes a huge factor in the work I am looking towards, and the work I have previously produced, so over the upcoming weeks I will be reviewing different practices, that I feel present identity in exceptional ways.

Firstly, I want to discuss Tomoko Sawada, a Japanese female photographer, who has an extensive library of works, most of which focus on that of identity, or similar, however I found most appealed to ‘Facial Signature’. In Facial Signature, Sawada looks at her experiences whilst living in New York, and the archetypes that she was mistaken by – Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Mongolian etc… And with this idea she decided to photograph herself transformed in 300 different ways.

This is a perfect example of how perceptions are made in immediate fashion, however in this example race, and racial identity are at the forefront of this observation. I think it’s important to be aware of projects that discuss matters of a political nature, and how influences can be taken. In this nature identity, for her, has been taken in many different ways. Whether that’s as a false accusation or as true personality traits.

To view Tomoko Sawada’s publications and works, click here.

The consequences of being an outsider

Due to my position of researching sex work, however, being an outsider within the sex industry, it is extremely important that I am aware of the negative impact I could have to the industry. The element of intrusion and distrust I may cause just by solely photographing sex workers, could be detrimental to the identities of these marginalised individuals. Which is why, as an artist and collaborator, I need to ensure that I introduce myself to the industry, explain my position, and also acknowledge my placement with the research and practice I have chosen to take.

The last thing I want to do, is exploit my subject matter. What I look to do, and have focused on through the last year and a half of my findings, is to establish relationship in the imagery I create. I want to ensure I am collaborating, and that they have majority of control over the imagery that we create together. I want to listen to their stories, even those whose I will not tell. But, I also want to feel like I understand them more. Something I have stood by within the entirety of this project, is that this is their voice, the way they can communicate their woes, and experiences of being part of a marginalised community.

I feel their voices, and the imagery that will coincide with these voices – in a midst of the focus on identity – will establish the opposition that the media has against the industry. The imagery will show the fictitious nature of which news articles, newspapers, magazines, and social media gossip, presents these people. The stock narrative of the woman stood by the car in minimal clothing, and fishnet tights, with a dainty pair of heels. Is this the real perception? From people I have met and spoke to, the reality is much different. And it is the reality that I want to portray. I want to establish identity through their own means, and again, I want them to be able to have their own voices.

Hello 2021!!

Happy 2021, here’s hoping the end of the year is much better than the start! Where did time go?! I’m back on the blog, and I will try my best to keep updated!

So, 2 lockdowns later, and on to the 3rd. Here, I am wondering why I haven’t even started shooting yet, but with Covid guidelines, and restrictions constantly changing, it’s not particularly a walk in the park. Plus, I maybe, admittedly, lost track of time, and the months all rolled into one.

Anyway, I thought I would start off with a bit of a welcome back post, a positive look in to the New Year. 2021 I hope will be the year “you paid for me: volume II” gets its feet off the ground, the year I hopefully begin making contacts, provide information to focus groups, and print the originally volume I, and allow people to actually see the first edition of the project.

In the past year I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve been able to understand the industry a bit more, listen to interviews, watch documentaries, and just delve myself in to the research. I’ve been able to work with my mentor, and learn from her. She has given me the ability to be an observer in to important aspects of the society, and provide me with important, ethical information to guide my practice in the right direction.

Alongside the research and work for my project, I am beginning some small rebranding – keep an eye out shortly, for a new logo, and a change on my socials.

I hope that this year is a successful one, not only for me, but for my body of work.

Conversations with: Georgia Jackson

Georgia Jackson is a graphic designer/illustrator, currently based in York, North Yorkshire. Her work is colourful, fun and lively, which has developed over her time studying at the University of Lincoln.

Hi Georgia, thank you for being the first to take part in this project. Please can you give me a small description, of you, and what you do? How did you first become interested in the media industry?
Since I can remember I have always had an interest in creative subjects, then going in to A-Levels I realised that media studies was where I wanted to progress further, but I still needed to narrow this down more, as I wasn’t exactly sure where in media I wanted to be. I studied media production at the University of Lincoln. This was a great course for me as it covered a wide range of media areas, such as script, TV production, radio and a few more. This is where I realised that design and illustration was the best for me, so I kept my focus on that! Now after uni I may be in a completely different job role, working in a service station, but I have not lost my passion for the subject and it’s still something I do for myself to keep busy, and to help out any of my friends or family that need something doing for their own projects, such as logos, cards, invitations etc! 

So, as we are currently in a world-wide pandemic, which means for many people, using their creative outlets to keep busy, I wanted to ask how you were keeping yourself busy, during this tricky time?
I have been keeping myself busy by constantly trying to create work. I have had my Instagram up for a while now, but it got slightly neglected for a long time, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to get focused, and produce some more work. I have wrote a long list of potential projects and I just keep going through them when I can.

Your most recent Instagram posts have included some fan art, where did you get this idea, and if people also wanted to do the same thing, where they would go to submit?
I was just browsing through instagram and saw someone had posted one of their own designs with the #6fanartchallenge, so I looked through the hashtag and saw thousands of other artists doing the same and thought it was a really interesting and fun project to have ago at. So if anyone wanted to give it a try then just create your work and post on instagram with the same tag so people who have also taken part in the challenge can see your style, who you decided to create, and so on! 

 Are there any prominent themes existing throughout your work? If so, what are these?
At the moment there is not really any set theme to the work that I have been doing, just whatever comes to my mind at the time when I sit down to get a piece done. However I do find myself having to stop drawing plants or flowers! 

I love your designs, they’re very quirky and fun, but I wondered who, if anyone, influences this style of work?
I have not got any particular artist that influences my work, but I do follow a lot of illustration accounts that are full of different artists sharing their work, such as Dribbble on Instagram. That way I get a wide mix of different work and style that might spark inspiration for a project of my own. 

Are there any aspirations of where you want to take your work further?
I would love to be able to get more of a following on social media with my work, and then hopefully, start printing and selling some of my work at a crafts market or something similar.

Do you feel that University was beneficial for your career? Developing your artistic style? And learning more about your practice?
I do believe that university has helped me move on with my illustrating and design work, before uni I had different interests across media. It was not until a design and communication workshop that I had in my first year, where I realised that this is really what I enjoyed doing. From then, in the last two years I was able to refine my skill and knowledge of the subject, how to work on different software etc…

If so, would you have any advice for future students thinking about following the same path as yourself?
Try everything! Do not be scared of creating something different that is not your usual style. You might not like the end result but you will have learnt something new along the way that will be transferable in the future!

If you want to check out some of Georgia’s design and illustration work, and give a follow visit here.

Welcome to Conversations with:

Hello all! Alongside my regular researcher content, my exploration work, and just regular ramblings, I have decided to produce a section dedicated to those near, and far, who are amazing, talented and bright artists. I will be posting regular interviews – they might be weekly, daily, monthly; I’m not entirely sure yet, but they will explore the artist of someone close to me, or that I admire. I hope this will be a chance for this page to gather a group of artists/creators/photographers/makers that are maybe not so recognised yet, and will hopefully grow to be in the future. This will be a finding of new artists, all in one place, that will hopefully promote them, and influence me in my own practice.

I really hope this works out! Thank you, to those who engage in my blog, and for sticking around! x