NOTE: If you wish to have your name added, sign the petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stephen_Fry_Reconsider_your_approach_to_Spec_Work


Background info: I was alerted to these two spec-work items aimed at promoting Stephen Fry’s latest book, ‘More Fool Me’ by the blog ShitSpecWork.tumblr.com I’ve been a fan of Stephen. He’s charismatic, intelligent, eloquent. What’s not to like? These two Spec Work items has greatly disappointed me, and the resulting glum has haunted me for weeks, so I decided to write this open letter. Details can be found on http://yourfry.com/details
. and https://www.talenthouse.com/i/design-a-poster-for-stephen-fry. This has been spotted by the site shitspecwork.tumblr.com. More info on what is classified as Spec Work can be found here: 



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Dear Stephen, 

You strike us as an all-round good guy. Intelligent, vulnerable, funny, and we don’t believe you would ever do something that cause someone else harm.
In that spirit, we are writing you to kindly reconsider the approach you’ve taken (or allowed your publisher to take) to promote your latest book ‘More Fool Me’. We’re referring specifically to the YourFry Mashup invite. and your poster contest. 
Inviting a bunch of creative mash-ups aimed ultimately at promoting your book, may seem like a harmless, fun exercise on the surface. But it truly isn’t. Two reasons why this is actually a harmful exercise: Firstly, most respondents to this challenge would fall into the category young creatives, eager to make a mark in the industry, and willing to create something for nothing but exposure. It perpetuates the notion already held by many end clients that asking for something for nothing is completely acceptable. We’ll assure you that the eventual result of this kind of thinking can be felt by the entire creative industry: from the bankruptcy of post production company Rhythm and Hues (despite winning Academy Awards on the year they close down) as well as the ill-health of the post production industry in general, to the average freelancer battling requests for pitches or ‘free samples’ from clients who are too pampered to make a judgement based on their portfolio as to whether they’re the right fit for the job or not. 

Secondly, these mash-ups involve the use of what’s
 actually a highly specialised set of skills. Illustration, animation, film-making, and so on, are all fields in which to create something that’s truly great requires an enormous amount of hard work, skill, and dedication. Asking for the end product without offering proper financial reward, makes it look like we all do this for a ‘hobby’, and that our profession is not a difficult one, requiring enormous amount of rigorous training and experience. It diminishes the value of professional training that a lot of artists like us have gone through in order to pursue our dreams to the best of our abilities. 

As for the request to design tour posters for you, the same arguments apply as the above. Instead of following the respectable method of approaching the appropriate artists / designers for the posters and paying them to create a range of options, your team wants the luxury of getting thousands of choices without paying a single cent. Again, you’re helping to foster the damaging trend that artistic talent isn’t worth much, and it’s perfectly fine to get something for nothing. 

In summary, the entire premise of these two things is a little hurtful and insulting, and it is hard not to feel disappointed that you, Stephen, of all people, would stand behind your publisher for something that cheapens the dream of supporting oneself through one’s passion. Perhaps you, Stephen Fry, can afford to do something for nothing, but we can’t. Some of us are involved in the very real struggle of making ends meet, which we speculate is something that you haven’t had to worry about in a long, long time. 

We illustrators and artists love our work, just like you love yours. We train for years and years, in school as well as afterwards, honing our craft with patience, sweat, blood, and tears. We cannot help being in this profession. As a wise person once said, it’s like a compulsion. People who choose to be in creative fields are simply obeying the irresistible ‘calling’ they feel within their souls. It takes courage and determination to get someplace whereby you can pay your bills doing it. The passion and the drive sees us executing commissions to as excellent a standard as possible; sometimes beyond what the money would pay for. In truth, in an ideal world we won’t have to worry about calculating how fair our monetary compensation is, and just let ourselves get lost in the work. 
Unfortunately, in the world of commerce, this attitude has been taken advantage of, time and time again. And in the market where admittedly supply is higher than demand, illustrators, artists, and designers are facing an increasingly difficult challenge to be allowed to pursue their passion and keep a roof over their heads. 

So please, Stephen, rethink this competition a little. We truly believe your marketing team shares the blame (if not fully shoulders it). As a highly respectable, popular public figure, you have enormous power to educate them and the rest of the world on why this is not an acceptable way to treat artists. If this trend is allowed to continue, we’ll be choking artists out of what they do best: creating beauty to make this world a less grim place. 

We truly believe you know the right thing to do now. Please, help us stand up against Spec Work, starting with what’s currently going on with YourFry.com.


Thank you in advance for listening, and for your time. 

Best, 
Lilian Darmono
Jing Zhang
Dan Woodger
Michiel Van Den Berg
David Andrews

(Photo by Sarah Joy Gordon from AOI, slap-dash photoshop job of Chantal into the picture by me. L-R: Chantal, Fatime, Trina, Pedro, Nathan, Barry—standing in for Jill, Jan, Catherine, me, and Michael). 

Last week I had the opportunity to have a stand at the Brand Licensing Europe 2014, at Olympia, London. I was one of the ten illustrators exhibiting at the Association of Illustrator’s pavillion. We were all first time exhibition, none of us sure what to expect. 

Well it turned out to be a very interesting experience. The most valuable thing I gained? Nine new amazing friends, all of us slaves to the impulse of creating beautiful things, and trying to make a living out of it. 

In case you missed it, or if you just want a recap, here they all are: 

1. Jill Latter 
http://www.jillustrator.com/


2. Pedro Demetriou
http://pedrodemetriou.co.uk/

3. Nathan of Rootytoot 
http://rootytoot.co.uk/




4. Fatime Szaszi
http://fatimeszaszi.blogspot.co.uk/

5. Trina Dalziel 
http://www.trinadalziel.com/

6. Chantal Bourgonje (Horace and Nim)
horaceandnim.co.uk



7. Jan Bowman 
 janbow.com

8. Wanton Fairies
http://wantonfairies.co.uk/

9. Michael Wood Studio
http://michaelwoodsstudio.com/

Aren’t they all fantastic? And there you go! Class of AOI-BLE 2014! 

More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir.  More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir. 

More life drawing practice, at Rose Lipman Centre, De Beauvoir. 

Stella. Norwich-bound train from Cambridge, Aug 9th 2014. 

We started talking when Stella saw me show the conductor the train ticket on my phone. She’s fascinated at the idea of paperless ticket. 

Stella was born in 1940, grew up during and after World War Two. Remembered the rations. Her husband died when he was 40, and Stella never remarried nor dated anyone else since. She has two sons, a daughter, and a granddaughter. She hasn’t spoken to her daughter in five years, but visits her son and granddaughter almost every weekend. She used to work for the rail network, but is now retired. He lives in Norwich, she in Cambridge. Stella has colon cancer, and has been told that she has one year left to live. ‘I’m fine, though. I’m seventy-four, I’ve had a great life. I’m going to enjoy what’s left to the fullest. That’s why I smile to people all the time,” she said. “People think I’m crazy, and I am crazy. I’m crazy about life!”.

Stella has had thirty-two dogs in her life so far, most of them rescues. At the moment she has two, and a cat. She works with another lady, saving abandoned and mistreated dogs from Cambridge and surrounds. She loves animals, and is a vegetarian. She has been having tea regularly for the past thirty years with her next door neighbour, who doesn’t love animals and hardly has anything in common with her. Yet the two has a special friendship. She gets Stella’s medicine for her when she was too weak during cancer treatment. They are loyal to each other in their own way. 

During the half-hour train ride, we talked about animals, and how much we both love pigs. A man overheard our conversation and pointed out several pig farms we rode past along the way. We gawked and giggled. 

"Do you know,’ Stella said,’this is the best train ride I’ve ever had. I have never met anyone who feels the same way about animals as I do. It’s so lovely talking to you!’ 

Likewise, Stella. Someday I hope to be as positive and strong as you are! 

Singing double bassist. 
Came home today to this in our building’s courtyard. His name is ‘AG’, he’s belting out some tune with his amazing voice. Said he’s having trouble playing because his middle finger is hurt. ‘I just got this today,’ he said proudly when I told him that thing he’s playing is such a beauty. I hope to run into him again sometime soon. 

Life drawing practice Life drawing practice Life drawing practice Life drawing practice Life drawing practice Life drawing practice Life drawing practice

Life drawing practice

Swans and Cygnets, watercolour on paper, Jun 2014 Swans and Cygnets, watercolour on paper, Jun 2014 Swans and Cygnets, watercolour on paper, Jun 2014 Swans and Cygnets, watercolour on paper, Jun 2014

Swans and Cygnets, watercolour on paper, Jun 2014

Sunday sketching. Can’t get this image outta my head. I blame Robert Ball’s #beautifuldeath illustrations for #GameofThrones.

Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks. Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks. Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks. Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks. Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks.

Life drawing sketches from the last 2 weeks.

When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade.. When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade.. When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade.. When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade.. When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade.. When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade..

When you are walking somewhere in wilderness, have you ever thought of hidden magical things lurking about un-noticed afoot? Don’t make a sound…and look closer…perhaps you’ll catch a lovely scene like this unfolding right by that old tree in the glade..

This silly old filly
Without using a facsimile
Wants to wish all that would he
ar
A Very Happy Lunar New Year!

For both young and old,
Lots of luck, money, and gold.
And for those with enough wealth,
May all year round you have good health!

Inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I loved the movement and costumes of the chorus girls who performed as the Prince’s maids in the first act. Dressed in stark black-and-white, with their red lips and bouncy wigs, striding in a dynamic stacatto across the stage. In the last act, they took on the roles of the Prince’s nursing team, standing in a formation, casting long, menacing shadows on the stage’s back wall, lit by a harsh spotlight. Truly one of the best performances I have seen !  Inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I loved the movement and costumes of the chorus girls who performed as the Prince’s maids in the first act. Dressed in stark black-and-white, with their red lips and bouncy wigs, striding in a dynamic stacatto across the stage. In the last act, they took on the roles of the Prince’s nursing team, standing in a formation, casting long, menacing shadows on the stage’s back wall, lit by a harsh spotlight. Truly one of the best performances I have seen !  Inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I loved the movement and costumes of the chorus girls who performed as the Prince’s maids in the first act. Dressed in stark black-and-white, with their red lips and bouncy wigs, striding in a dynamic stacatto across the stage. In the last act, they took on the roles of the Prince’s nursing team, standing in a formation, casting long, menacing shadows on the stage’s back wall, lit by a harsh spotlight. Truly one of the best performances I have seen !  Inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I loved the movement and costumes of the chorus girls who performed as the Prince’s maids in the first act. Dressed in stark black-and-white, with their red lips and bouncy wigs, striding in a dynamic stacatto across the stage. In the last act, they took on the roles of the Prince’s nursing team, standing in a formation, casting long, menacing shadows on the stage’s back wall, lit by a harsh spotlight. Truly one of the best performances I have seen ! 

Inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I loved the movement and costumes of the chorus girls who performed as the Prince’s maids in the first act. Dressed in stark black-and-white, with their red lips and bouncy wigs, striding in a dynamic stacatto across the stage. In the last act, they took on the roles of the Prince’s nursing team, standing in a formation, casting long, menacing shadows on the stage’s back wall, lit by a harsh spotlight. Truly one of the best performances I have seen ! 

Leda and The Swan. #drawing

A doodle. #hand #pen #ink

'Flood' #watercolour on #paper