Meet the Professionals
Daisy Wakefield is a Manchester-based Artist and Campaigner. Wakefield combines printmaking, illustration and animation to poke fun at the ridiculous stigmas we assign socio-political issues, in order to break down taboos.
She is one of the UK's leading Period Poverty Activists! She is also a regular artist for The Labour Party, and speaks publicly on sex-positive education, having designed the branding for BUFF Condoms.
In 2019, Wakefield campaigned for the University of West England (UWE) to offer free sanitary products to their students. She used some of her student loan to buy and stock UWE with sanitary products, in boxes printed with her own designs. Subsequently, to the huge media interest in Wakefield's project (BBC and ITV), UWE announced they would supply free sanitary products and be active campaigners against period poverty.
BA (Hons): Drawing & Printmaking, University of the West of England
Art Foundation Diploma, Northbrook Metropolitan College
42nd street (mental healthcharity), BUFF Condoms, The Labour Party, Labour Party Graphic Design, Freedom4Girls, 100 Women I know, #FREEPERIODS, She Shirts, BBC, NUS Women’s Campaign, Sasha Shuttleworth.
"Be excited to make mistakes!"
Notes and links
An amazing online resource aimed at giving the crucial tools to succeed to creators, freelancers and business owners within visual arts industries.
A non-profit organisation which campaigns for equal access to education, and calls for Governments to combat period poverty by offering free period products to school children.
An Art Foundation Diploma is a one-year introductory course for studying art and design in between school and an undergraduate degree. It’s designed to help students figure out their chosen degree discipline, so the teaching normally covers a broad range of specialisms. It’s necessary if you want to go on to do an art or design degree at university.
Freelance work is where you take on contracted jobs from different organisations, rather than working for one business. You are self-employed and responsible for your own hours, salary and tax.
Furlough is a temporary leave from work requested by the employer, which may be caused by lack of available work or economic difficulty. It’s a term that’s been discussed much at the moment because of the pandemic, with the Government covering a portion of peoples’ wages while they’re out of work.
An activist is someone who campaigns for social or political change. This can take many forms: it might be writing letters to your MP, signing petitions, contributing to a political party’s campaign, or strikes and marches.
Pink Tax is the additional cost added to everyday products marketed for women, like razors, shampoo, haircuts, clothes, deodorant, and more. The price gap for these basic products means there is a huge financial impact on a woman over the course of her life.
Period Poverty is the name given to the phenomenon of women and people who menstruate having lack of access to sanitary products and an understanding of menstruation, often due to financial restraints. It was causing girls to miss school because they couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. In 2019 the government introduced a scheme to provide free period-products to all schools and colleges.
A work contract is an agreement between parties concerning employment, that is enforceable by law if broken.
An invoice is a bill sent to the buyer after the terms of the deal are fulfilled.
A deposit is a portion of the bill paid as a first instalment to confirm the contract. Normally the rest of the payment is made after the work is completed.
Daisy Wakefield: I’d say just go with your gut every time.
Matilda McEvedy: Welcome to Hang it, the platform where we try to navigate the artworld and build a community through conversations with friendly people. My name is Matilda and today I will be talking to Daisy Wakefield to find out about her practice as an artist and how she got there.
Hi Daisy! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you practice?
DW: Yeah course. So, I’m Daisy Wakefield. I’m from Worthing originally, and did my Art Foundation in Worthing, sort of Brighton area. Went to Bristol Uni, and did a Drawing and Print BA, which was amazing. And that was at UWE, so University of West of England. I graduated – yikes – in 2019 and now I’m basically doing freelance artwork. Ultimately kind of full-time now, and that’s kind of really kick started because of furlough.
My practice is, I would say I define myself personally as an artist and an activist (or campaigner). Like I would say it’s very fifty-fifty split in how I work, and how I put my time into that (I spend a lot of time researching and then making my artwork). But I would say I’m an illustrator and an animator specifically, within the art realm. Now, I work a lot more digitally, because I have an iPad and that’s an easy way to make artwork that I can spread around basically.
MM: And what kind of projects have you been involved in recently?
DW: So, I’ve been doing commissions for unions, for start-up businesses. They’ve all been very progressive and very me about their political engagement. For example, I’m currently doing a project with the first all-gender condom, that’s going to be launched hopefully when they get the funding.
MM: So, if we go back and talk about your formal training and experience of art school (so your Foundation and BA), what was it about them that you enjoyed most and what did you find…what were the biggest challenges?
DW: Yeah, I mean, I absolutely loved my Art Foundation. When I left college, I was in such a like confused state. I think, for me anyway, my experience of college, I felt really pressured to go to uni. And my mum suggested: well why don’t you just do Art Foundation? Because it’s a year out, its free if you go straight from college. Ended up falling in love with Printmaking there.
My advice of, if you do Art Foundation, or anything like that, the resources are so incredible, and you have the freedom to explore anything you want.
DW: Obviously when you get to uni it can be a bit more…stressful, because there’s more intense grades at risk. But, for me I…yeah…I probably did stuff in my degree that my teachers didn’t like or might not have got me the best grade, or what I thought might not have got me the best grade, but because I enjoyed it that’s kind of how I got a good degree at the end…um…and did the work I loved.
MM: And in terms of your activism, is that something that really came about at UWE, doing the Printmaking course?
DW: Um Yeah that was, that was in my Art Foundation. My teacher basically turned round to me and was like ‘Well, yeah, cool, your artwork’s OK – but what do you want to say? And then um, that was around the same time that I found out about the Pink Tax (which is basically just tax on most “feminine hygiene [products]” – putting that in quotation marks – yeah within that. So, and then that basically just kind of lit a fire in me, and I was like this is just fucking, just so awful (I don’t know if I can swear), this is really awful. And yeah, so I basically started making artwork about the Pink Tax specifically and then how that kind of trickles down within Period Poverty.
I had this passion for it, but I didn’t know how to actually make change! Whereas, in my degree show that was when I was really like, ‘OK, how can I actually make this activism – how can I make change within my community?’
MM: And now you said the pandemic has sort of forced you into the world of freelance. How have you found that? And what have you come up against?
DW: Yeah, I mean, yeah so, I’ve really learnt a lot the hard way as well of contracts, and invoices, and pricing, and stuff like that has been such a minefield for me. Naturally, I think a lot of new artists like myself – my contracts from April compared to now… my contracts back then were not airtight at all.
And so, I’ve had to learn that the hard way, and then said to them, ‘Oh I did that work for you, so can you pay me?’, and they’re like ‘Well, you’re pushing it, because it’s not actually completely in the contract’. Do you know what I mean, it’s stuff like that, I think you have to be really really careful with, and it’s just about communicating.
It’s difficult because I would say be honest, but then also don’t show your vulnerability. So, I think it’s important to be honest sometimes with people, and say, ‘You know what, I’m actually a newly freelance artist. I’m going to send you over my contract. Please can you tell me if it’s not completely clear or airtight and then we can work with it together?’
I’ve really struggled with having the right balance with clients. Being friendly, and also having the authority to say, ‘You owe me money. Can you pay me please?’
There’s a really great…um I think they have a website…it’s called Creative Champs. But they basically had a template contract for artists. So, I basically had a look at theirs and then kind of altered it a bit.
MM: Hmmm. What advice would you give to someone who’s leaving school now, or doing a foundation now, and looking to pursue their practice professionally?
DW: Yeah, I would say for people who are studying, just embrace it and make the most out of the resources you have and just be excited to make mistakes. But people who are thinking of going into freelance, basically the advice I wish I had got before I jumped into freelance in April-time: I wish I did research and found…[Creative] Champs earlier, and had a clear contract set in place. I wish I understood my worth, basically, a lot of the time. And stuff like deposits – if you’re doing any work you should always ask for some money before you even pick up a pen.
MM: Yeah, that’s so helpful! Um…and finally, what’s the most rewarding project that you’ve been a part of?
DW: Oof, um, I think… the Period Poverty Campaign I did for my degree show, you know, that wasn’t something that my teachers told me to do, or a client told me to do – that was just completely what I cared about. I mean it was quite the opposite. My teachers were like, ‘Please don’t do this, you’re really going to piss off the uni doing this’. *laughs* I’d say just go with your gut every time.
Yeah, I think that was also the first, kind of, time I really communicated my art to people as well. I think I really learnt a lot about my art by talking about it. And I mean you don’t need to be interviewed for that, you can do that yourself, do you know what I mean? By, asking yourself those questions, by, you know, writing a journal about the work you’ve done. I think you can learn so much by how you articulate your own work.
MM: And also, I suppose, because you are an artist/activist, being able to see change come about!
DW: Yeah, hands down, that is the most rewarding thing about everything…about it. I mean, I think for me, that’s why I can’t really do any artwork that’s not political now. I get so much, I guess, purpose out of making stuff that I believe is going to make political change. Even if it doesn’t make any, you know, physical change, but it’s the grand scheme of it, isn’t it. It’s like, I know my campaign doesn’t mean that the government listened to me personally. But I know that my artwork, you know, was shared on, for example, Free Periods page (who were the people who campaigned to the government. Do you know what I mean, like it’s all a snowball effect, so even if you think you’re a small artist, or whatever. You’re a small artist in a very big chain.
MM: Well, thank you so much for talking to me Daisy! It’s been really uplifting!
MM: We will link Daisy’s website in the page below and as always there’ll be a glossary. of terms and links that have been mentioned in the episode. And if you want to check out more great content and interviews don’t forget to look at our Instagram page: @hangitcollective for updates and sign up to our newsletter!